i love the willow trees along the Charles River. these are among the last trees to hang on stubbornly to their leaves in late November… i totally respect that.
I really thought that I would be elbow-deep in pumpkin recipes and posts by now… I certainly have enough pumpkin recipes bookmarked and 2 cans of pumpkin puree patiently awaiting their use in my kitchen. Perhaps what’s even more surprising is that my first pumpkin recipe of 2011 is a savory dish, rather than baked sweet!
The Helmand is an acclaimed Afghani restaurant in Cambridge that I’ve luckily had the opportunity to dine at several times- and lucky for me, almost every time was for free as it is a favorite of my department for recruitment dinners! I’d never cooked anything remotely resembling Afghani food before, and due to the complexity of spices that entice my tastebuds every time I eat at the Helmand, I was very intimidated to even try. Luckily, a good friend and a frequently visited blog paved the way into the unknown for me, and I decided to give it a go.
This dish epitomizes sweet and savory. Pumpkin slices are baked with a not-so-insignificant amount of sugar until they are candied and almost too sweet, with a silkily soft and yielding texture. Ground beef is cooked with tomatoes, turmeric, and coriander to make a flavorful and savory sort-of stew. And to round out the warm, sweet and savory components of the dish is a cooling tangy garlic-mint yogurt sauce. The dish on the whole, especially on a chilly fall day, is utterly fantastic, it’s comforting and filling, and so flavorful, just the thing I am sure I will continue to crave throughout the winter!