Ghapama Pumpkin Rice Recipe
A very funny name for a very tasty dish! Ghapama is a popular folk song about an Armenian dish. It literally means stuffed pumpkin. The song is popular, but it is surprising that pumpkin is very rarely featured in Armenian cooking.
The lyrics to the song talk about the smells and tastes of food and the appreciation of food by Armenians. It tells a story about an entire community being attracted to the smell of a stuffed pumpkin cooked by a family in the village. Soon, everyone follows the smell and gets a bite of the tasty stuffed pumpkin. Folklorically, the dish tells a story about an entire village being attracted to the smell and gravitating towards it to attend a wedding.
This dish is a very old, traditional Armenian rice dish that is usually made during the holiday season. Traditionally this dish is cooked between New Year’s and Armenian Christmas Day (January 6). It is cooked entirely in the oven in a pumpkin. Since moving to the United States, we have started to make this dish during Thanksgiving. Enjoy the Armenian twist to a very traditional American holiday!
1 3lb to 4lb pumpkin, washed and cleaned on the outside
2 cups rice
6 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup each: prunes, dried apricots, dried cherries or cranberries, raisins
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup almond and walnuts, minced
3 tablespoon honey
½ cup warm water
Cut the top of the pumpkin. Scrape out all the seeds and fibers. Wash pumpkin on the inside and pat dry.
In a pot, pour 4 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Add the rice and lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes, not to cook completely through. Drain the rice and pass it under cold water. Let it drain. Mix the rice with the dried fruits, and nuts. Add the salt, butter cinnamon and honey.
Add the rice to the pumpkin, add the warm water then place the pumpkin in a baking pan. Bake for about 2 hours at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until the pumpkin is soft to the touch. Cut the pumpkin into wedges and serve.