Afghan Style Pumpkin with Yogurt Sauce

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This Afghan Style Pumpkin with Yogurt Sauce is rich and earthy. It features sautéed pumpkin and onions flavored with turmeric, ginger, and chiles, which is topped with a ground beef and tomato sauce, and then a garlic and mint yogurt sauce.

Afghan Style Pumpkin with Beef, Tomato, and Yogurt Sauce

While we tend to think of desserts when we imagine cooking with pumpkin (usually from a can), pumpkin is served in sweet and savory dishes throughout the world.

Evidently pumpkin is native to North America, but has spread across the world and adapted to the cuisine of every region. You can eat the flesh, the seeds, the flowers, and even the leaves.

Pumpkin flesh is super nutritious – high in vitamin A and fiber. It’s very filling, and is great for vegetarian main courses.

Afghan Style Pumpkin with Beef

There are so many flavors in this Afghan style pumpkin recipe. Onions, turmeric, ginger, jalapeño, garlic, coriander, tomatoes, and mint come together to create a wonderful savory dish.

While giant pumpkins might be fun to grow, for a more flavorful dish, use smaller pumpkins, particularly sugar pumpkins, which are usually available in the fall.

You can also make this dish with other winter squash, such as butternut. You can also make this dish vegetarian by eliminating the beef and using vegetable stock to cook the pumpkin. Just double the tomatoes if you eliminate the beef.

Afghan Style Pumpkin with Yogurt Sauce #pumpkin #AfghanFood

This recipe has been inspired by the book Mark Bittman’s Kitchen Matrix: More than 700 Simple Recipes and Techniques to Mix and Match for Endless Possibilities. Over 700 recipes in 300 pages.

Our inspiration this week is the chapter, Pumpkin +3 Ways. There are three international style dishes: Risotto con la Zucca, Moroccan Style Pumpkin with Lentils, and this Afghan style pumpkin. I pretty much stuck with the recipe because it sounded so interesting.

It was delicious.

More pumpkin recipes from my fellow participants.

pumpkin, yogurt, beef

Main dishes


Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Afghan Style Pumpkin with Yogurt Sauce Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 minced jalapeño, seeds removed
  • 8 cups cubed (1 inch) pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 pound ground beef (optional)
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes (use twice as much if you eliminate the meat)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the turmeric, ginger, and jalapeño and cook for 2 minutes more. 
  2. Add the pumpkin, stock, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the pumpkin is tender, approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove the lid and, if necessary, boil the mixture until the broth is thick. Season with more salt and pepper to taste as needed. 
  3. In a separate skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the crushed garlic, ground beef, and salt and pepper. Cook the mixture, breaking up the beef, until it has begun to brown. Add the tomatoes and coriander. Over low heat, simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  4. In a separate bowl, stir together the yogurt, mint, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. 
  5. Top the cooked pumpkin with the tomato beef mixture, and then the yogurt sauce. Garnish with more mint.

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