Original name: Ghapama

Origin: Armenia

In Armenian, the word ‘Ghapama’ literally means cooked in a covered pot. Recipe-wise, ghapama is a stuffed, baked pumpkin traditionally served between the New Year and Armenian Christmas which Armenians celebrate on January 6th.
NOTE: Sometimes ghapama is made with a winter squash such as the acorn squash variety rather than pumpkin.
To make ghapama, a medium sized pumpkin (about 1.5 kg in weight) is cut open at the top, then the fibrous strands and seeds are scooped out. Generally, a stuffing made with partially cooked rice, dried fruit, raisins, chopped nuts, cinnamon, sugar or honey is placed in the cavity. The filled pumpkin is baked until tender and served table-side. There is a traditional song re-popularized by Harout Pamboukjian about this wonderful Armenian dish. “Hey Jan Ghapama, Hamov Hodov Ghapama”, meaning ‘Dear Ghapama, tasty, aromatic ghapama’. The lyrics claim that over 100 guests will come if (ghapama) is ever made. A more formal, yet fun, rendition of the ghapama song was performed by the KOHAR Symphony Orchestra and Choir of Gyumri, Armenia.

1 pumpkin, about 1.5 kg (medium big)
300 gr rice
4 tablespoons butter, melted
40 gr dried plums, chopped
40 gr dried apricots, chopped
40 gr dried cherries, chopped
40 gr raisins
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
30 gr chopped walnuts
30 gr chopped almonds
60 ml hot water
25 gr ginger root

Wash and dry exterior of pumpkin. Cut off the top in a circle shape as it will be used as a lid. Scrape out the stringy fibers and seeds. Discard fibers. Rinse the inside of the pumpkin; pat dry.
In a large saucepan or in a pot, bring 720 ml of water to a boil, add enough salt (1 teaspoon – 1.5 teaspoons). Add rice, stir, cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Cook rice for about 10-15 minutes. Rice should not be completely cooked. Drain any excess liquid. In bowl, mix together the partially cooked rice, chopped, dried fruit, melted butter, salt (if needed), cinnamon, honey and nuts. Loosely stuff filling into pumpkin; pour the 60 ml hot water over the top of the filling. Place the pumpkin on a baking tray for support. Put the top of the pumpkin back on and bake at 180 C for about 1.5 hours or until it gets soft. Insert a toothpick into the pumpkin to determine tenderness. Serve the whole pumpkin on the table and cut in wedges when eating.