I love the crisp clear mornings and chilly nights that have arrived along with Halloween this week. We have always celebrated Halloween, even as a small child my mum used to throw the best Halloween Parties.
One year, I think I was around 7 years old, she threw a party for us and all my school friends came. The food she made was so scary that none of the children would eat anything! The standard of costume back in the 80s, for us at least, was a bin bag with our faces painted. Nowadays it is very different! Some of the social media posts I’ve seen of friends celebrating this year look amazing and a far cry from the old bin bag witch that I used to go as!
In Iran today, many of the younger generations, under 35, that make up 75% of the population, do indeed celebrate Halloween despite the clear risks. They do so away from the watchful eye of the police and demonstrate their knowledge of Western culture and traditions.
At the request of our three year old, we have decorated our house with cobwebs and made Halloween snacks this year and our little one is loving all of the theatre surrounding it. My husband not so much! However, we do have a tradition that we have had since we met and that is picking our pumpkins and then carving them in competition with each other ! I am pretty sure I have won more times than I’ve lost but who’s counting 😉 I love this tradition. It is something we now do with our little one. It reminds me of doing the same thing with my parents. My mum used to use the pumpkin flesh to make Khorest Kadu and my dad would sit and pick all the seeds out, dry them, methodically cover them in salt and bake them. I haven’t thought about that in years, neither have I done it myself! They are lovely yummy and crunchy and a nice alternative snack for this time of the year.
Khorest Kadu, the way I make it, is sweet and sticky and I find works better with the dark meat of chicken rather than any other meat however you can also use beef or lamb. If you are vegetarian you can replace the meat with chickpeas and broad beans which also works well. It’s warming and perfect after a cold autumn day. So if you are struggling to think of ways to use all that leftover pumpkin without making a pumpkin pie or a soup, try this! You won’t be sorry you did.
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My Little Pumpkin Stew
2 tbsp coconut oil melted
2 large onions diced
750 gm chicken thighs on the bone
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp plain flour
750 gm diced pumpkin flesh – fried off until browned
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 tsp ground saffron with a pinch of sugar and dissolved in warm water
Fry off the onions until soft. Set aside.
Coat the chicken thighs in the flour and dried spices.
Add to the onions and fry off for 1 minute.
Pour in 1/2 cups of water and simmer for around 45 minutes.
Add in the sugar, lime, saffron and pumpkin and cover and simmer for another 45 minutes until the pumpkin is soft.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with tadig and rice. Decorate with pomegranate seeds and coriander.