My delicious Roasted Pumpkin Pulao is a true fall favorite in my family. When oven roasted, the pumpkin becomes very sweet & almost creamy in texture – which works very well with the Basmati rice, warm aromatic spices & the crunchy cashews. It’s a perfect combination of both tastes & flavors, a definite match made in heaven – this dish is a great way for kids to enjoy eating their vegetables & I guarantee they will even ask for seconds!
Pumpkins are both very healthy & nutritious. They are loaded with beta-carotene, an important antioxidant. They are also a rich source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, iron & dietary fiber. Pumpkins are also thought to have anti-inflammatory properties & play a role in preventing certain cancers and heart disease.
This simple yet delicious dish is just perfect for entertaining & especially around the holidays. It’s a great way to celebrate the fall season with family & friends ☺.
ROASTED PUMPKIN PULAO (Roasted Pumpkin Rice Pilaf)
2 cups basmati rice, washed twice and drained well
1 small pumpkin, peeled & diced into small cubes (about 2½ to 3 cups)
¼ tsp ground cumin powder
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2-3 green cardamom pods (gently cracked open)
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick (approximately 2 inches in length)
2-3 shallots, finely minced
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
½ cup of unsalted cashews (toasted), roughly chopped
½ tbsp orange zest
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp pulao masala (or garam masala)
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 tbsp ghee or butter
3¾ cups of water
few drops of orange blossom water, optional
handful of toasted cashew nut pieces for garnish
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
First, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Then in a large roasting pan, combine the pumpkin cubes with 2 tbsp of ghee. Season with the ground cumin powder, salt & pepper. Mix well to combine and spread in a single layer. Roast on the center oven rack for about 30-35 minutes or until the pumpkin is just tender & lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven & set aside to cool.
While the pumpkin is roasting in the oven, heat a large deep skillet on medium high heat. When hot, add the remaining 2 tbsp of ghee. When melted, add the cumin seeds along with the cardamom pods, bay leaf & cinnamon stick. Stir for about a minute or two & then add the shallots, ginger, cashew pieces, orange zest, ground allspice, pulao masala & nutmeg. Stir and let cook for a few minutes and then add in the Basmati rice. Mix well to coat the rice grains with all the aromatics and let cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often. The rice will become very fragrant with a nutty aroma. Remember to season the rice with salt & pepper. Then add the water, cover and reduce the heat to low. Do not open or stir the rice for 18-20 minutes. Lastly, remove the pan from the heat & gently (but quickly) fold in the roasted pumpkin cubes. Then cover the pan again with a lid & allow the rice to rest for at least 8-10 minutes or so. Fluff gently with a fork, drizzle the orange blossom water over the top & then garnish with the extra cashew pieces & cilantro leaves. Serve hot with your favorite dishes as part of any Indian meal.
Traditionally, delicious caramelized onions are often used to garnish pulao dishes. These are simple to make but do take time & patience, they are well worth it & you will be rewarded.
Slice 1 large onion very thinly & fry it in about 2 tbsp of ghee (or butter) over medium heat. Next, add a pinch of salt & stir occasionally. The onions will gradually become softened & translucent at first, then they will reduce & become golden brown. This may take up to 25-30 minutes (or slightly longer), but it’s totally worth the extra little effort.
The pumpkin need not be roasted, it can also be lightly steamed or boiled until just fork tender if you wish. You could also
make this dish using butternut squash.
Try adding some golden raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried apricots, dried dates or even craisins to the dish.
Instead of orange blossom water, try adding saffron (soaked in a little milk). For a very savory dish, try adding 1 tbsp of curry powder.
Instead of toasted unsalted cashews, you can add toasted pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, macadamias…