My two-week series on Turkish food draws to a close with this sweet poached pumpkin dessert, Kabak Tatlisi. When I received a small pumpkin in my weekly CSA delivery last week, I flipped through my Turkish cookbook and found the inspiration I needed. This poached pumpkin recipe is delicious and a perfect dessert idea for upcoming Halloween or Thanksgiving celebrations.
When it comes to pumpkin, I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve come to realize that pumpkin is an ingredient which I don’t give much respect. Never do I use it in its natural form but instead only when it’s pureed (and nearly always from a can). I love that this recipe celebrates pumpkin and allows it to shine.
The magic of this recipe is that the pumpkin gives off its natural juices which are then used to make a poaching liquid. The recipe is a simple ratio of sugar and pumpkin, 1 part sugar 2 parts pumpkin. You can season with cloves and I like the addition of lemon for a subtle zing.
Poached Pumpkin (Kabak Tatlisi)
adapted from The Food and Cooking of Turkey
4 cups pumpkin (peeled, seeded, cubed)
2 cups sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup walnuts
Cut the pumpkin cubes into 1-1 1/2 inch cubes. Place pumpkin into a small pan. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Cover the pan and allow to sit for 3-4 hours. The sugar will draw out an amazing amount of liquid from the pumpkin.
When I uncovered the pan 4 hours later, the liquid had covered the pumpkin. Place on a medium burner and bring to a simmer. Add the cloves and lemon juice. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. During the last 5 minutes the pumpkin color will change and will take on a bright orange ‘candied’ look. Remove from heat.
Serve in bowls along with the syrup. Crush walnuts over the top. Grab a spoon and dig in!
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the poached pumpkin. The cloves give a nice spicy warmth to the syrup. The pumpkin flavor is mellow (and thoroughly delicious).
Soon it will be Halloween and everyone will be buying pumpkins from the market. During Halloween, we carve pumpkins for decoration and don’t even use their flesh. After eating this dessert it’s sad to see so much good pumpkin wasted for the holiday. I would much rather eat a bowlful of this than have a carved pumpkin on my doorstep. :-)
With my Turkish series drawing to a close, does anyone have a suggestion for what region or ethnic cuisine I explore next? Leave me a comment and let me know what you’d like to learn more about.