Pumpkin dishes

The Great Pumpkin Crisis of 2009 -- when a lousy harvest resulted in panic-buying and hoarding -- has us looking at pumpkin in a new way. (Photo by Bob Fila)

Kaddo bowrani, or "baked pumpkin," the appetizer he serves at The Helmand, is the restaurant's most popular dish. Chunks of pumpkin are fried and then slow-baked with a hint of sugar and cinnamon, served with warm yogurt mixed with garlic.

The soft pumpkin and yogurt, slathered on a warm, peppery flatbread, would be the main course in Afghanistan, Karsai said. "Unless it is a state dinner or guests you want to impress."

He buys enough pumpkins to last until May, he said, when he is forced to switch to eggplant or another squash until the pumpkin harvest comes in.

Pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins are traditional ways to enjoy pumpkin in the fall. But The Main Ingredient, an Annapolis restaurant and catering service, startled its first patrons years ago by serving pumpkin muffins with all of its entree salads.

"It was a sweet way to finish off a salad. It was different, and it became our signature," said Evie Turner, a vice president at The Main Ingredient. They serve between 700 and 950 mini pumpkin muffins a week and go through 750 No. 10 cans of pumpkin in a year.

Happily, she said, the restaurant's supplier came through during The Great Pumpkin Crisis.

Would she share a recipe for the signature muffins?

"Never," she said, laughing.

The Helmand's kaddo bowrani (baked pumpkin)

Makes: 4-6 servings

For pumpkin:

1 small pumpkin (baby or spookies work best)

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Cinnamon

For yogurt sauce:

1 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon fresh-cut diced garlic

Dash salt

Slice pumpkin and remove seeds. Peel outer skin. Slice 2-inch pieces lengthwise. Place oil in skillet pan and heat to medium heat. Add pumpkin. Cook on medium heat covered for approximately 10 minutes, turning once. Remove from pan and place in small roasting or baking pan. Sprinkle the pumpkin with the sugar and cinnamon. Cover tightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minute or until soft. Time may differ according to the hardness of the pumpkin.