Armenian Thanksgiving Pumpkin

Photos of cooked pumpkins by Raffi

Photo: Raffi

What should you prepare with all those apples and pumpkins? Many people confront this question after the celebratory hayride and apple and pumpkin-picking excursion. I love to try exotic recipes with my pumpkins. This year I am making a fall dish from Armenia called Ghapama. This vegan dish, dramatically presented inside a whole roasted pumpkin, can be the star of your Thanksgiving table.

Ghapama is a harvest dish with its own special rituals. First, a fresh pumpkin is picked. Then the whole family helps to clean the pumpkin, stuff it with rice, fresh apples, dry fruits, and nuts. Then they enjoy each other’s company while the pumpkin bakes. When it is ready, everyone eats it straight out of the oven while it is piping hot.

Adapted from Arusyak Mirzakhanyan

  • 1 7 Lb. pumpkin
  • 1 cup rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cups diced apples
  • 1/4 cup minced dry apricots
  • 1/4 cup minced dry plums
  • 1/4 cup minced dry peaches
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup dry cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup agave nectar
Photo of pumpkin with top removed by Raffi

Photo: Raffi

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the rice in a pot.
  3. Add 3 cups of cold water and salt.
  4. Cook the rice on high heat for 15 minutes, then strain. It should not be fully cooked.
  5. Place the rice back in the pot, and add the coconut oil.
  6. Add the nuts and dried fruits.
  7. Mix in 6 tbsp. of agave nectar and 2 tsp. of cinnamon.
  8. Set the rice mixture aside.
  9. Wash the pumpkin.
  10. Open the pumpkin by cutting off the top.
  11. Reserve the top of the pumpkin to make a lid.
  12. Scoop out the seeds and pulp.
  13. Spread the rest of the agave nectar on the interior walls and floor of the pumpkin.
  14. Pour the rice mixture into the pumpkin.
  15. Cover the pumpkin with its lid.
  16. Place the pumpkin on a baking pan.
  17. Put the pumpkin in the oven.
  18. Cook for 60 minutes.
  19. Lower the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  20. Check if the pumpkin is ready by poking it with a fork.
  21. When the pumpkin is soft and easily pierced, it is ready.
  22. Cut slices of pumpkin, and serve with the rice filling.
  23. Eat immediately!


Leave a Reply