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Comforting Kadu – A Creamy, Mediterranean Pumpkin Stew

As fall approaches, a new list of warm and hardy seasonal vegetables bursts with flavor and abundance. Pumpkins, Brussel sprouts, winter squash, and kale suddenly decorate plates and satisfy our bellies. Kadu, a warmly spiced, creamy, stewed pumpkin dish often made in Afghanistan and other surrounding areas, delivers cozy fall flavor from across the world straight into your kitchen. 

Delicate spices and a sweet pumpkin and tomato stew with tangy yogurt sauce give Kadu an exotic flavor profile with all the sensations of fall comfort food. For those looking for an unusual vegetable dish that pleases the tastebuds and leaves you feeling full, this dish delivers on all notes.

kadu
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

In our hometown of West Columbia, South Carolina, the best Kadu comes from Ariana’s, a small Greek and Mediterranean restaurant with clean, bright, and beautiful plates full of flavor. My recipe came from a craving for that very Kadu on a cozy night at home. While differing slightly from their perfected recipe, I believe it captures the same spirit of warmth and delicacy. Give Ariana’s a try if you are ever in West Columbia, SC, and be sure to check out the recipe below for a brilliant bite of fall flavor. 

Ingredients for Kadu.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Ingredients

For The Kadu

  • 2 TBSP Grapeseed Oil 
  • 1/4 Purple Onion (Optional) 
  • 1/2 Small Pumpkin
  • 1 tsp Garlic
  • 1 Knob Of Ginger
  • 1 TBSP Of Honey
  • 1 TBSP Fresh Cilantro Leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 Cup Vegetable Stock
  • 2-3 oz. Of Tomato Sauce

For The Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/4 cup of Yogurt
  • 1 tsp of Garlic
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Smoked Paprika (to taste)

Optional

  • Fresh Mint or Cilantro
  • Extra smoked paprika

Grape Seed Oil

Often in Mediterranean cuisine, grape seed and olive oil grace pots and pans to introduce subtle flavor in the early stages of the cooking process. Grapeseed oil is nearly tasteless, so you can worry less about it overpowering other ingredients like the delicately sweet pumpkin.

Hands pouring grape seed oil into a red measuring spoon.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
The Method

Allow grape seed oil to warm in your pan before adding the other ingredients. Cooking with oil keeps the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan and provides more even distribution of heat without watering down or taking any flavor away from your ingredients. 

Substitutions

Oils such as canola oil, peanut oil, or any other oil that can withstand high heat levels will also work in this recipe in equal amounts. 

Closeup of cut purple onion.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Purple Onion – Skip This Step For Extra Sweetness

I added 1/4 of a purple onion to my recipe to bring in a savory element and make the dish feel slightly more pungent. That little bit of funk the onion adds gives the dish a hearty feel, but skipping the onions gives a sweeter and brighter taste. Feel free to adapt this recipe to suit your flavor preferences. 

Closeup of chopped purple onion on a red cutting board.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
The Method 

Chop onions finely and allow them to simmer for 1-2 minutes before adding the pumpkin to the pan. The onions will develop more savory flavor in your dish.  

Purple onion simmering in grape seed oil in a pan.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Pumpkin 

Pumpkin, fall’s most representative emblem, brings sweetness and finesse to this dish. The pumpkin stews down so beautifully in oil, tomatoes, and a perfect blend of spices to be soft, but not mushy. Its ability to hold a solid, yet fork tender consistency tells of its textural complexity, and that is why pumpkin makes Kadu so delicious. 

Closeup of large piece of cut pumpkin on a red cutting board.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
The Method
  • Remove the skin and pulp from your pumpkin. 
Hands using a knife to cut away the skin from a small pumpkin.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
Hands using a spoon to scoop out the middle part of a pumpkin.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
  • Chop pumpkin into 1 inch pieces. 
Hands chopping pumpkin into one-inch pieces on a red cutting board.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
  • Cook pumpkin in oil with the onions for about 4 minutes before adding the other ingredients. Pumpkins should begin to brown. (Similar to searing a piece of beef- but lightly.) 
Pumpkin cubes added to cooked purple onions in a pan.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
Substitutions

In certain seasons, grocery stores and markets do not carry pumpkins. In this case, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, or even carrots can be substituted for pumpkin. As with any substitution, cooking times may need adjustment, and the texture may vary slightly from that of the pumpkin. 

Pumpkin and purple onion stirred together in a pan.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Garlic

A brilliant ingredient like garlic can change a dish entirely. When added early in the cooking process, garlic sweetens and the pungency softens into a blissful bite of aromatic richness. 

Overhead view of an open jar of minced garlic.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
The Method

After the pumpkin sautées for about 4 minutes, add garlic and cook for one minute before adding other ingredients. 

Substitutions

Garlic powder can be used in place of garlic in this recipe. Add your garlic powder when adding the other spices for best results. 

Ginger

Ginger heightens and brightens dishes. Often, ginger gets used for medicinal purposes involving clearing out the sinuses. The taste of ginger has a spicy element that fills even your nose with flavor. A small knob of ginger gives Kadu a fragrant, opening feeling that prepares your body to receive a warm hug of flavor and delight.

Hands using a grater to grate ginger into a pan.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
The Method

Peel ginger using a spoon to scrape off the brown layer of skin, and then grate over the cooking garlic with a cheese grater or zester. Stir ginger into other ingredients and allow to cook for 1 minute. 

Substitutions

Fresh ginger can be replaced with fresh ginger paste (about 1 Tsp- more if you prefer a little more ginger kick.) or ginger powder (to taste).

Honey

Honey brings out the inherent sweetness of the pumpkin and tomato sauce, helping to integrate their flavors even more. 

The Method

Pour 1 Tbsp over your pumpkin mixture and stir until fully incorporated with other ingredients.

Fresh Cilantro Leaves

Cilantro leaves add a little freshness to the dish. I like adding herbs early in the cooking process to cook fresh flavor into the other ingredients. I also love adding fresh herbs at the end to add a pop of freshness in each bite. This brightens the dish and keeps you coming back for more. 

Hands using a knife to chop cilantro leaves on a red cutting board.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
The Method 

Finely chop cilantro leaves and stems and add to your pumpkin mixture or add 1/2 tsp of coriander powder to your pumpkin. 

Adding chopped cilantro to pumpkin and purple onions in a pot.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Smoked Paprika

Often used in Mediterranean cooking, smoked paprika adds a slight smoldering taste to the pumpkin that reminds me of campfires and fall fun. 

Smoke paprika in the bottom of a pot.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
The Method 

Add your paprika along with salt and pepper to the pumpkin mixture and stir until fully incorporated with the other ingredients. 

Vegetable Stock 

Let the stewing begin! Using broth or stock instead of water gives pretty much any dish more depth of flavor. I rarely use water in cooking if other, more flavorful liquids are available. 

The Method 

Pour Vegetable stock and tomato sauce over the pumpkin mixture and allow it to come to a simmer. Cover and adjust stove temperature to a low heat. Continue cooking for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Substitutions

Wine and beer are great options to replace vegetable broth. If preparing this dish for meat eaters, chicken broth is also a perfect substitute. 

Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce when paired with pumpkin brings out earthy, fresh flavors and enlivens the Kadu. The sauce melds with the sweetness of the pumpkin, developing a velvety sauce. 

Hands using a can opener to open a can of tomato sauce.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
The Method 

(See Method below Vegetable Stock.) 

Tomato sauce being added to pumpkin, purple onion, and spices in a pot.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Yogurt Sauce 

While your kadu stews, tossing together a quick yogurt sauce could not be easier. Yogurt adds a cooling element to your dish with its slightly tart and acidic brightness and establishes the perfect balance of a hearty meal with a light finish. 

A green dish of yogurt with spices sprinkled on it.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield
The Method

Add yogurt, salt, smoked paprika, and minced garlic in olive oil to a bowl and stir together until all of the ingredients are integrated. 

Mint

Add a little fresh mint to the top of your Kadu for extra fresh flavor. 

Pairings 

Kadu can be eaten as a main course or a side dish. It pairs beautifully with pretty much anything in Mediterranean cuisine. I love it beside a lamb stew or gyro, over rice with parsley, and with kebab. 

Hummus or baba ghanouj make a perfect companion for Kadu. You can even whip a little pumpkin puree into the hummus to repeat the pumpkin theme in your meal. 

Drinking Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or a Chilean wine with subtle spices would bring out the warmth in Kadu, accenting its flavors without overshadowing them. I especially love the butteriness of chardonnay paired with the creamy pumpkin texture. 

We enjoyed our Kadu with a nice fall salad. The pomegranate vinaigrette in this recipe highlights Mediterranean ingredients like pomegranate and Tahini. Often I find that ingredients growing in the same regions taste great on a plate together. 

A bowl of fall salad with pomegranate vinaigrette.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

The Beauty of Kadu

Most people think of meat when they think of a hearty meal, and most vegetarians get tired of eating the same vegetables. Kadu answers both of these dilemmas with a new question, “Why not pumpkin?” Its hearty texture holds up against the stewing process beautifully, making it a great meat substitute, and it changes up the go-to from mushrooms and eggplant to something a little sweeter. 

Pumpkins certainly remind me of fall, bringing in memories of cozy sweaters and trick-or-treating, but they also taste great when stewed together with tomato sauce, coriander, and smoked paprika. I know this is a recipe you will love and soon attach to your family’s greatest memories of fall. 

Pinterest image of Kadu.
kadu

Comforting Kadu - A Mediterranean Pumpkin Stew

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Delicate spices and a sweet pumpkin and tomato stew with tangy yogurt sauce give Kadu an exotic flavor profile with all the sensations of fall comfort food.

Ingredients

  • Kadu Ingredients:
  • 2 TBSP Grapeseed Oil
  • 1/4 Purple Onion (Optional)
  • 1/2 Small Pumpkin
  • 1 tsp Garlic
  • 1 Knob Of Ginger
  • 1 TBSP Of Honey
  • 1 TBSP Fresh Cilantro Leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • 1/4 Cup Vegetable Stock
  • 2-3 oz. Of Tomato Sauce
  • Yogurt Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup of Yogurt
  • 1 tsp of Garlic
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Smoked Paprika (to taste)
  • Optional Toppings:
  • Fresh Mint or Cilantro
  • Extra smoked paprika

Instructions

      1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot to medium heat on the stove. Pour in grapeseed.
      2. Finely chop your purple onion and add it to the hot oil.
      3. Remove skin and pulp from the pumpkin. Cut pumpkin into one-inch pieces and add to the sauteeing onions, cook for about 4 minutes (until the pumpkin has browned a little).
      4. Add minced garlic and saute for 1 minute.
      5. Grate ginger over pumpkin mixture and stir to integrate with other ingredients.
      6. Add honey to the pumpkin mixture and stir to integrate with other ingredients.
      7. Chop your cilantro and add it along with the other spices to the pumpkin mixture. Stir to integrate with other ingredients.
      8. Add Vegetable stock and tomato sauce to your pumpkin mixture, stir into the other ingredients, and allow the mixture to come to a simmer.
      9. Cover your pumpkin stew and turn the oven to low heat. Allow the stew to cook for about 20-25 minutes or until the pumpkin softens.
      10. While the stew is cooking Mix together all ingredients for the yogurt sauce.
      11. When the stew has finished cooking, drizzle yogurt sauce over the top and add your fresh mint or cilantro (optional).
      12. Enjoy!

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