Challaw Kadu (Afghan Pumpkin with Meat and Yogurt Sauces and Rice)

My good friends Tim and Virginia recently took me to dinner at Kabul Afghan Cuisine in San Carlos, CA.  In addition to outstanding lamb, this dish is one of the must-have items on the menu.  In the process of trying to figure out how to make it, I found several websites that describe it as “Americas favorite Afghan dish.”

Click here for a PDF of this recipe without photos.

Inspired by Kabul Afghan Cuisine, San Carlos, CA

For the basmati rice

  • 2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tb butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1.5 cups white basmati rice
  • 2.5 cups chicken stock

For the pumpkin

  • One 2 – 3 lb Sugar Pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2 – 3 inch pieces
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Canola oil

For the meat sauce

  • Canola oil
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb ground lamb or beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup water

For the yogurt sauce

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp dried mint

In advance: prepare the basmati rice and place in rice cooker with timer set for dinner time.  Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft – about 5 minutes – stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and coriander and stir to combine.  Add the rice and cook for 4 – 6 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and add stock.  Stir to combine, then scrape the entire mixture into a rice cooker.  Close the lid and set the timer.

60 minutes before you want to eat (or more or less depending on your knife skills) – prepare all of the ingredients for the pumpkin, meat sauce, and yogurt sauce.  When you peel the pumpkin, you will likely lose some of the flesh in the process.  Don’t worry about this – it’s unavoidable.

40 minutes before you want to eat – preheat the oven to 350.  Heat some canola oil in a skillet over medium high.  When it is hot, add the pumpkin pieces to brown lightly.  Turn frequently and brown all sides.  Remove pan from heat and transfer pumpkin pieces to a roasting pan.  Mix cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the pumpkin pieces.  Cover with foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes  or until tender.

30 minutes before you want to eat – In the same skillet you used to cook the pumpkin, add some more oil.  (Unless there are burnt pieces of pumpkin – and there shouldn’t be – don’t worry about cleaning the pan before this step.)  Turn heat back to medium high.  Add the onions and cook until lightly browned – 5 minutes or so.  Add the coriander, salt, pepper, and garlic and stir to mix.  Add ground lamb or beef and cook until browned – 8 – 10 minutes – stirring occasionally.  Add the tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer and simmer until ready to serve.

10 minutes before you want to eat – make the yogurt sauce.  In a mixing bowl, add the minced garlic and salt.  Use a fork to mash into a paste.  Add the yogurt and dried mint and stir to combine.  Taste and add more salt if necessary.

5 minutes before you want to eat – remove the pumpkin from the oven.

To serve, place several pieces of pumpkin on a plate.  Top with the yogurt sauce then the meat sauce.  Serve rice on the side.

3 Responses to “Challaw Kadu (Afghan Pumpkin with Meat and Yogurt Sauces and Rice)”


  1. 1 P. Ward August 3, 2012 at 6:20 AM

    You cannot believe how delicious this dish is. Leave off the meat and you have a vegetarian favorite as well. If you’re ever in San Carlos, CA, visit this restaurant. It is fabulous!

  2. 2 Tatiana November 9, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO delicious! I’ve had Challaw Kadu at a restaurant and it was amazing. I didn’t think I could ever make it as delicious and IT WAS! I get asked to make it now on a regular basis. X

  3. 3 Kate November 9, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    This was so, so tasty. We made it with lamb. My mouth is still watering. I do feel, however, that the pumpkin is lacking something and I can’t pinpoint what it is. Kabul is one of our favorite restaurants in the bay area. (We now live on the central coast). Thank you so much for your adaptation. It was splendid.


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