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Spicy pumpkin stew (Duba wat)

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

One of the staple crops in Africa is pumpkins, they have been adapted to grow in harsh climates and serve as an essential nutrient in the diet. Pumpkins are used widely and almost every meal has this vegetable in some form. Here is a beautiful stew that makes the pumpkin shine.

The berbere spice blend is a staple of North Africa. It has been traced back to the 5th century when Ethiopia was an important partner in the trade route between Africa and China. It is composed of several spices, and the recipes vary from household to household. Its bright red colour highlights its warm flavours with a pop of heat. It can be bought in the US from Brundo and in India from Doyen Foods.

This stew was created as a vegetarian option to compliment Moroccan lamb shanks. The stew is light and pops with flavours from the Bereber spice blend. I loved how the pumpkin soak in the light broth and absorb the spices well. I paired it with preserved lemon-scented couscous, but you can enjoy it with rice or injera.

This Ethiopian cookbook is filled with traditional recipes that delight the palate. Yohanis Gebreyesus has trained in some of the best French culinary schools in the world and after working in California moved back to his home country to start his restaurant. His mission is to bring the cuisine of Ethiopia to the world, and this book is just that. It is filled with the standard traditional recipes, and also some newer recipes from his family. This is a wonderful cookbook for those who want to experience and learn about Ethiopian cuisine at home.

For more recipes from the lovely cookbook, click here.


2-3 tablespoons of oil

2 medium onions, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon berbere spice blend (see recipe below)

1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom

lb yellow pumpkin, peeled and cut into half moons

2 cups water

Salt, to taste

Cilantro, to garnish

Click here for the Berbere spice blend recipe.

Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot on low heat. Add the onions and fry till they are very soft and translucent about 4-5 minutes. Do not colour.

Add the garlic and fry for 1 more minute. Add the berbere and ground cardamom and cook on the lowest setting for 3-4 minutes. You want to be careful not to scorch the spices. This step releases the aromas and flavours from the spices.

Add the pumpkin and fry on low heat for 3-4 minutes to coat the pumpkins with the oils and spices. Stir often so the spices do not burn

Add the water and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes till the pumpkins are cooked through but not falling apart. Stir gently during this time being careful with the pumpkins.

Serve hot garnished with cilantro.

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