“Kaddoo,” the Urdu word for “pumpkin,” can also be used as slang, to call someone silly or stupid.

I can’t think of any kaddoo recipes I grew up eating, but since my move to North America, roasted vegetables in general have become a winter staple and a source of comfort.

Over time, I graduated from roasting the basics—potatoes, asparagus and the like—to squash, turnips, and yams. But there was always a stand out winner: pumpkins! I love them in cookies, salads, and even in bread. The beauty of pumpkins is that they are both the star of the show and really good at highlighting other flavours.

One of my close friends grows squash and other vegetables from summer to fall. She let me take a couple of pumpkins off her hands, so I went home and got to work. 

As someone who doesn’t like long and complicated recipes, I thought—what would take little effort but still taste good? Did I really feel like running the oven for a long time when it was warm-ish outside? I was either going to make a bearable curry or a nice pot of sauteed vegetables with steamed rice. Here’s what I actually made:

Kaddoo Mac n Cheese:

  • What corners did I cut?
    • I didn’t limit myself to a particular set of ingredients, instead, I went for the taste I wanted, which was spicy and sweet.
    • I  used cut and frozen vegetables. I recommend chopping everything in a food processor for this one. Just save yourself the time, because cutting the pumpkin is work, and no-one wants chunky veggies in their mac n cheese.
    • I didn’t make a roux. Y’know what works nearly as well? Just regular ol’ cheese. A lot of it.

Time: 30-45 min.

Tools:

  • Big pot
  • Smaller pot for the macaroni
  • Food processor (or large knife to chop everything individually)

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbsp. oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 habanero peppers (Way less if you are sensitive to spice. Even half a habanero pepper will add lots of spice.)
  • 1 or 2 small pumpkins, diced into small pieces
  • 1-2 tbsp. brown sugar, honey, or molasses
  • Approx. 150-200g of macaroni
  • 300g cheese of your choice – the meltier, the better
  • 50-60ml. of milk

Spices:

  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 tsp.Cayenne Pepper
  • 1-2 tsp. Nutmeg (optional)

Directions

Chop/mince onion, garlic, and habanero peppers in the food processor.  Saute in a large pot with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper until golden brown.

In the same pot, raise the heat and add diced pumpkins. Sear the pumpkins with brown sugar and nutmeg, until the pumpkins soften and brown (about 20 mins). Stir regularly. I like to eat a slice at this point to test the softness and spice level, and to get a sample.

While the pumpkin softens, boil your pasta and cook until it’s done.

Lower the heat and mash the pumpkin mixture to desired consistency. I like them similar to the texture of soft mashed potatoes. Fold in grated cheese, and a splash of milk. Continue to add milk until it’s more of a sauce, but only add a little at a time. Adjust salt to taste.

Fold in the pasta until it’s totally covered with sauce. The amount of pasta you add really depends on if you like your mac n cheese saucier or drier.

Notes:

  • If you are like me and like crispy cheese, an extra step you can add is to add extra cheese on top and broil it for a couple minutes before serving.
  • This recipe keeps and freezes really well.

More on Sania’s Work:

Not Your Nani’s Qorma (Issue 6)

The Little Side Dish That Could (Issue 7)


Sania is a Pakistani freelance writer and editor who is passionate about seasoning her food, the Oxford comma, and creating painfully curated Spotify playlists. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit with a focus in race and post-colonial studies, and wants to fill the gaps where she doesn’t see herself represented in writing and media.

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