Pumpkins, almost as far as the eye can see

I am exaggerating with my title, I actually can’t see any pumpkins at all at the moment, but they do seem to be even more popular this year than ever. We went to a farm shop and looking across the car park to the fields beyond, there were orange and golden globes hanging like lanterns.

This is something I wrote a few years ago:

There was a letter in today’s newspaper about how popular pumpkin lanterns now are to ‘celebrate’ Halloween; in the old days swedes and mangle wurzels were carved out in the same way with a face cut into the side, the centre hollowed out and a candle placed inside. These days pumpkins are sold everywhere, and last week I saw them growing in north Norfolk, looking like small orange animals grazing in the fields.

The point the writer of the letter was making, was that most people who buy pumpkins and hollow them out, don’t use the flesh for anything, and it just gets wasted. “Few of these pumpkins are used as food, yet valuable land, machinery and labour are used to grow them and distribute them to shops…” He suggested plastic pumpkins which could be used year after year as Christmas decorations are would be a great alternative. because pumpkins are only recently popular, there aren’t as many traditional recipes associated with them as there are in the USA, such as pumpkin pie,

The sort of pumpkins used to make lanterns, often seem to me to be rather tasteless, compared to some of the sumptuous squashes now available! However, if you have carved out a pumpkin, here is a great Iraqi recipe for a very easy pumpkin curry:

  • 1½ – 2 lbs pumpkin – peeled, de-seeded, chopped into chunks
  • 1½ onions
  • 3-4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil, or whatever you prefer
  • 1-2 tablespoons of curry powder of your choice (old-fashioned basic yellow all-purpose curry powder would be fine)
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 – 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • water
  • salt to taste
  1. fry the pumpkin in  a little extra oil, until browned and tender, take from the pan and leave on kitchen paper while you continue
  2. add the 2 tbsp oil to the pan, and when hot add the onions and garlic, stir well
  3. add the curry powder and let it cook a couple of minutes to get rid of the raw taste of the spices
  4. after a few minutes add the purée, salt, lemon juice, vinegar and sufficient water to make a sauce; simmer for about ten minutes, making sure the onion is soft, adding more water if necessary – check if you need more salt
  5. put the pumpkin a shallow oven-proof dish and pour the sauce over it, stir round so the pumpkin has sauce all over it
  6. place in a preheated oven, 350º F, 180º C, gas mark 4 and cook for 30-40 mins until the sauce is a lovely dark brown and has been absorbed into the pumpkin (check from time to time it’s not drying out, cover with a piece of tin foil if it seems to be getting too dark and maybe turn the oven down)
  7. serve with plain boiled rice

Here’s an interesting article about mangel wurzels:



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