25 September 2007

Blissful Unemployment, Day 21: Pumpkinarrific!

If you live in the vicinity of Cambridge or San Francisco (or maybe Baltimore?) and you don't know the Helmand restaurant, then you should familiarize yourself with it immediately. Helmand makes Afghan food that is unbelievably good. It's one of the things i miss most from my time in the Boston area; there's good Afghan food to be had in New York, but so far i haven't found anything like Helmand.

Whenever i visit Helmand, i make sure to have at least a little bit of kaddo ("kadoo"), a sweet pumpkin dish served with a yogurt sauce and optionally a meat sauce. It is a strong candidate for Most Delicious Thing There Is To Eat. (After all, it is orange in color, and we all know the simple rule that Orange Food Tastes Good.)

My Better Half got it into her head that i should try to make kaddo at home, which proposal immediately was seconded by myself. It didn't take much searching to find this recipe, which claims to have originated at Helmand itself. I stopped at Whole Foods to get some sugar pie pumpkins, filled a couple holes in our spice collection, and got to work.

The hardest part was peeling the pumpkin pieces, but it's the kind of task i'll get a lot better at with practice. (I used a vegetable peeler; i'm not deft enough with a knife to do that kind of work without losing too much delicious pumpkin.) Covering the pumpkin with oil and then a small mountain of sugar feels somewhat silly the first time (as the linked recipe implies), but if you've ever eaten kaddo you know it'll be worth it.

We didn't have any dried mint (even after the Whole Foods trip), so i used dried basil in the yogurt sauce, figuring that Fage is good enough to accommodate substitutions. Olive oil worked fine instead of the corn oil the linked recipe calls for, though i wouldn't necessarily use one that smells/tastes overpoweringly of olives. MBH strongly prefers ground turkey to ground beef, so i used that in the meat sauce.

(I paired the kaddo with a biryani recipe that wasn't very good, so i'm not even going to link it here.)

Everything came together incredibly well, and on the dinner table the pumpkin, yogurt, and meat sauce looked, smelled, and tasted like heaven. Not quite as good as Helmand's, but easily the most delectable thing i myself have cooked so far. I was going to take a picture to see if i could capture the visible waves of pure deliciousness for this blog, but the camera's battery was dead, and i sure wasn't going to wait.


frances said...

Hey, I randomly found this while looking for a recipe for kaddo (sans meat). I live in Cambridge and love Helmand, but I love Khyber Pass in SoHo a bit more (well, a lot more, in fact). Thought I'd offer up the recommendation for the next time you hit up the Big City.

Grievance said...

I'm not aware of a Khyber Pass in SoHo, but i have eaten at the Khyber Pass on Saint Mark's Place -- is that the one you mean? If so, then i have the opposite reaction -- Khyber Pass is scrumptious, but Helmand is better. Haven't been there (KP) for a couple years, maybe i should go...