Adapted from the Impromptu Kitchen
Makes 2-4 servings
1 sugar pumpkin
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup + 1 tbs oil (pick something neutral, like canola or grapeseed)
1 cup yogurt
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (or use a garlic press since it is a little easier)
2 tbs dried mint or 4 tablespoons fresh mint
1 tsp dried dill or 1 tbsp fresh dill
1 tsp + 1 tsp + 1 tbs kosher salt
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs coriander seed, freshly ground if possible
1 tbs cumin seed, freshly ground if possible
1 tbs smoked paprika (or use sweet paprika if you don’t have smoked)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup water
Preheat the oven to 300F. Peel the pumpkin, then cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the halves into 1/2-inch slices and lay them in a 9 by 13 pan. Sprinkle the slices with the sugar and 1/4 cup of oil and then toss them together with your hands. Cover the pan with foil and bake it for 2 hours. Midway through the cooking process you can flip the slices, re-cover the pan, and continue to bake it. When finished, the pumpkin slices should be a much deeper orange and will be very soft and tender.
While the pumpkin is baking, make the yogurt sauce – the longer it sits the better the flavor will be. Just mix together the yogurt, garlic, mint, dill, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover it and let it sit in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.
After the yogurt sauce is done, heat the last tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook for about 15 minutes or until they get a little color on them and most of the onions are soft and translucent. Add the tomato paste and the coriander, cumin, (smoked) paprika, and cinnamon and stir well. Cook for a minute or two or until the tomato paste darkens a bit and the spices are fragrant. Crumble up the ground beef and then add it to the pan along with another tablespoon of salt. Cook the meat for about 30 minutes. First it will lose its pink color and then after about 15 minutes it will start to go very dark brown as the water cooks out. Just keep scraping the pan every few minutes so that it doesn’t burn.
Once the meat is deeply browned and the sizzling noise has subsided considerably, you should have a layer of brown bits on the bottom of the pan. To get that back into the sauce, keep the heat on medium and pour in 1/4 cup of the water. Use a hard metal spatula or a wooden spoon to scrape the pan and loosen all the browned bits so that they come back into the sauce. Then cook it for a few minutes to get rid of the extra liquid. If that doesn’t work the first time around you can always add the rest of the water and scrape again but if you don’t need it, don’t worry. Taste the meat mixture and add more salt if needed.
To serve the dish, lay out slices of the candied pumpkin on a plate and the meat over the slices. Then top the whole thing with about 3/4 cup of the yogurt; reserve the rest for spooning on at the table. And yes, the leftovers and delicious are will keep for several days.