I was in Kabul for a five day trip at the beginning of October. Since I was traveling on my own and setting my own schedule, I felt a great sense of freedom that I had not felt on previous trips. I chatted with cab drivers, wandered around Kabul’s women’s garden, andhung out with my cousin’s five wonderful, well-behaved children.
All the kids had responsibilities for house work. With ages ranging from9 months to 15 years old, you can imagine that their mum needs some help. What really struck me was the total lack of complaining on the part of the children. Even the three and a half year old has chores and proudly performs them without being asked.
I returned home inspired by all of this. Over the weekend I asked my own daughters to clean the dishes after Sunday lunch. I divvied up the work evenly between the two of them. First, there were major protests , “Why do WE have to do this?” then, “ I am doing more than her!” I ended up with a headache.
Of course the kids in Afghanistan do not have after school activities, sports, music lessons, or play dates. These luxuries are neither available nor part of the culture. One thing they are expected to do is do well in is school. All of my cousin’s children are excellent students and very motivated.
Madya Jan, my cousin’s 15-year old daughter, is an excellent cook and makes most of the meals for the family. She made this delicious pumpkin dish while I was there. It’s a sort of quicker, modified Kadoo recipe which is very flavorful, so I decided to share it with you. I did modify it a little: rather than frying the pumpkin in oil, I used vegetable broth. I have to admit, the dish tastes better fried, butmost of my friends here in the Western part of the world like to avoid cooking heavily in oil. Either way, it’s tasty and will always remind me of my trip to Afghanistan.
Cousin Madya’s Kadoo
One 3 pound sugar pie pumpkin or butternut squash
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tomatoes roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup full fat or Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
Cut the pumpkin into quarters, remove the seeds, peel and cut in thin strips as shown in the photo.
Heat the vegetable broth in a large frying pan on medium-high heat, add the pumpkin. Keep a close eye on the pumpkin, stirring every few minutes so all pieces are exposed to heat. Add the turmeric, stir well, cover the pot with a lid or aluminum foil and allow the liquid to absorb and thicken. This will take around 10 minutes.
In the meantime, in a sauce pan heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and sugar. Stir well, turn the heat to medium-low and let is cook until the flavors infuse the oil and the tomatoes caramelize a bit, 7 to 10 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t burn.
Pour the tomato mixture evenly over the pumpkin. Cover the top with a tight lid or aluminum foil and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is fully cooked and a fork can go through it easily.
Mix the yogurt, garlic powder and salt in a bowl and stir for a minute or so until it’s smooth and creamy. Portion the pumpkin onto serving plates and put a generous dollop of yogurt to top. Serve with pita bread or Aghan Nan.
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