Make this traditional Armenian stuffed pumpkin – Ghapama- for your next fall festivity. It is filled with goodies that fall provides.
Autumn is truly a wonderful season. It’s a time when we celebrate the bounty of the year, sown in spring, sunbathed in summer. It’s time to harvest the crops and reflect. The trees are covered with crimson and gold leaves, giving us one last show before a winter’s slumber. Pumpkin and gourds are plump and inviting.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
The poem by by John Keats perfectly describes the Autumn.
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Chronicles of Pumpkin and Ghapama
Unknown to Europeans until more recently, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita pepo were one of the staples in the Americas well before the arrival of the Conquistadors. In a short amount of time, the pumpkin, yet another fruit that crossed the Atlantic, affirmed its deserved place in folklore and cuisine.
The varieties of squash and pumpkins are used in both sweet and savory dishes. Armenians make preserves, puree, cook them in milk, and serve them with lentils. One of the most famous and unique Armenian dishes prepared with pumpkin is called Ghapama.
Ghapama is one of the most festive dishes of traditional Armenian cuisine. Prepared from a whole pumpkin, and traditionally baked in Fall and for, New Years, Easter, wedding and birthday celebrations. Ghapama is unique in the sense that the pumpkin serves both as a cooking and serving vessel, and its the star ingredient at the same time. Sweet, fragrant, colorful both outside and inside, it’s a dish made with a pumpkin stuffed with rice, butter, honey, raisins, nuts, dried fruits and other bounties of autumn.
Grocery and Pantry List
Special Tools to Use:
Bake in 350°F(180°C) the preheated oven.
Step-by-step: How to Make Stuffed Pumpkin
To prepare Ghapama, the ingredients are boiled, the pumpkin’s core is delicately removed to preserve the peel, it’s then filled with these ingredients, and baked in the oven or tonir. A Tonir is an earth-clay, wood-fired oven traditionally used for bread baking and cooking. However, for this recipe, we’ll be using a regular home oven.
Step 1: Carving the pumpkin
With the paring knife score the top of the pumpkin and cut it open. Save the top to use as a lid.
Scoop out the seeds, clean wash the inside.
Generously apply the butter and honey inside the walls. About tablespoon of the mixture.
Sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon to coat the insides.
Step 2: Making rice for stuffing
Bring five cups of water to a boil and cook the rice like you will cook the pasta. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set it aside.
Watch how to make this step by step
Step 3: Preparing the filling
Core, and peel the apples and quince. Cut the neck of the butternut squash and peel the skin.
Dice them and set them aside. Dice into half-inch cubes. Cut the apricots into little chunks.
In a small source pan, combine cubed apples, butternuts squash, raisins, apricots, and honey and cook with a butter until the raisins are plump and the squash is softened a bit, the fruits have released their juice.
Transfer all the plumped fruits into a bowl and add the chopped nuts.
Combine the honey and melted clarified butter into a pouring cup.
Step 4: Stuffing the pumpkin
Start by layering one-third of the rice into the base of the squash. Add one-third of the raisins and fruit mixture, then drizzle it with butter and honey. Repeat this process in alternating layers until you finish with the fruit.
Place the top (lid) on the pumpkin and securely cover it with foil.
Position the pumpkin in a rimmed, oven-safe dish to catch any drips.
Bake in a preheated oven for an hour. Check for doneness by testing the pumpkin’s flesh near the lid area.
How to Serve Ghapama
Place ghapama on a big platter. Cut into wedges and serve as individuale slices with spoonful of rice filling.
Ghapama – Armenian Stuffed Pumpkin with Rice and Fruit
- 1 pumpkin 3 kilogram
- 1 cup rice
- 70 gram butter melted
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 butternut squash cut, pitted, seeded, diced
- 1 apple diced
- 1 quince diced
- 1/2 cup golden raisin
- 1/2 cup dried apricots
- 1/4 cup almonds toasted
Carving and preparing pumpkin
- Cut the top of the pumpkin, so it serves as a lid (save it). Remove the seeds, clean wash the inside.1 pumpkin
- Generously apply the butter and honey inside the walls, rubbing them in. Sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon to coat the insides.70 gram butter, 1/4 cup honey
- Core, and peel the apples and quince. Dice them and set aside.1 apple, 1 quince
- Cut the neck of the butternut squash and peel the skin. Dice into half inch cubes.1 butternut squash
- Cut the apricots into little chunks.1 cup rice
- Bring five cups of water to a boil and cook the rice like you would cook pasta. Add a pinch of salt. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Toast the almonds on a dry skillet for 2-3 minutes.1/4 cup almonds
- While the rice is cooking, add 2 tablespoons of melted butter In a small sauce pan; combine the cubed apples, butternut squash, raisins, apricots, honey and cook until the raisins are plump and squash is softened a bit and the fruits have released their juice. Add the almonds to the mixture1/2 cup golden raisin, 1/4 cup almonds, 1/2 cup dried apricots
- Combine the rest of the butter with honey and set aside.
Stuffing the pumpkin
- Fill in ⅓ of the rice in the bottom of the squash. Add the 1/3 raisin and fruit mixture followed by a drizzle of the butter and honey. Alternate the same process and finish with the fruit.
- Put the top (lid) on and tightly cover with a foil.
Baking the pumpkin
- Preheat the oven to 350 ℉ (180℃)
- Place the pumpkin in a rimmed oven-safe dish to catch juice overflowing from the sides.
- Bake in a preheated oven for an hour. Check if done by testing the pumpkin flesh at the lid area.
- Raise temperature to 425℉ (210℃) and cook for an additional 30 minutes uncovered
- To serve, take the top and cut into wedges following the indentations on the pumpkin.
- Garnish with toasted almonds.