How to Cook a Pumpkin
Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Cooking a pumpkin is so easy and in Kampala they are available year round. Don't forget to look for a green gourd, I've never seen an orange pumpkin here.
When your recipes call for cooked pumpkin, do it yourself in just a few simple steps. Before I cooked my first pumpkin here, I messaged a friend who told me how to do it in 200 characters, it is that straightforward. These instructions are to cook a pumpkin to remove its soft flesh, not to steam pieces of pumpkin with the skin on in the Ugandan method. The pumpkin flesh can be used in pumpkin bread, pumpkin butter, or served hot with a bit of butter. You can also add it to smoothies or feed it to a weaning baby.
1. Cut open the pumpkin
This is an intimidating step for some people, but it really isn't difficult. Approach it the same way you would a jack-o-lantern. Start by cutting a circle around the stem and remove the stem. With a large kitchen knife, cut down one side of the pumpkin and turn it over to cut down the other side, so you have two even halves. Scrape the inside of the pumpkin to remove the seeds. Either toast the seeds or discard them.
2. Cook the pumpkin
Place the pumpkin flesh side down in an oven safe dish with about one inch (3 cm) of water. I use our tagine because it is the same shape as the pumpkin but you can also use a glass baking dish. My Kampala oven doesn't vary much as I turn the dial, so I just turn it on full heat and cook the pumpkin for 1.5 to 2 hours. Online sources recommend 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius), but the temperature really isn't going to have a huge effect on the outcome of the pumpkin except for the cooking time. So just check it at an hour and a half and cook it longer if needed. You can tell the pumpkin is cooked when it starts to slump, as shown below.
3. Peel the pumpkin
Let the pumpkin cool until it is safe to handle. A well cooked pumpkin will be easy to peel and likely won't require a knife. If some peel is stuck spots, gently cut it away to preserve as much of the pulp as possible.
Just like that, you have pumpkin pulp to enjoy! A large Kampala pumpkin yields about 4 cups of flesh for each half, or 8 cups total. A small pumpkin yields more like 4 cups total.