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Persian Spice - Fall Baby Pumpkins Stuffed with Fragrant Pilaf

This could be the best-smelling hands-on session ever, as spice queen Ana Sortun gets you grinding, pounding, toasting, roasting and blending your own exotic spice mixes, before you cook up an array of Turkish, Lebanese, Greek and Moroccan-inspired dishes that look and taste as good as they smell.


  • Persian spice mix

  • ½ cup dry rose petals, lightly crushed in a spice grinder and then sieved (reserve a couple of teaspoons of rose petals for garnish of yogurt)

  • ¼ cup ground cinnamon

  • 2 ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

  • ½ tsp green cardamom, seeds only (remove the green husk)

  • ¾ tsp of ground nutmeg

  • ¾ tsp of ground coriander

  • fall baby pumpkins stuffed with fragrant pilaf

  • 4 cups basmati rice

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 really large carrot, cut into ribbons

  • 2 onions, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp persian spice

  • 1 tsp saffron

  • ¾ cup toasted pistachios

  • ¾ cup toasted slivered almonds

  • zest of 2 oranges

  • 2 cups dried mulberries

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • salt

  • 6 baby sugar pumpkins or acorn squash


  • Persian spice mix:

  • 1.

    Combine and store in an airtight jar out of the light.

  • Fall baby pumpkins stuffed with fragrant pilaf:

  • 1.

    Soak basmati rice, while bringing large pot of water to a boil. Stir in rice and cook until just tender. Drain and rinse until cool. Set aside.

  • 2.

    Bring one cup of water to a boil in a small saucepot and add one cup of sugar. Add carrot strips and simmer eight-ten minutes until they are soft and candied. Drain and chop roughly.

  • 3.

    Sauté onions with spice until soft. Stir in pistachios, almonds, carrots and orange zest. Add mulberries and two tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt to taste.

  • 4.

    Remove the seeds from the pumpkin and fill with rice stuffing. Cover with water or broth and bake for one hour until rice and pumpkin are both tender. The ratio should be 2:1 of water/broth to rice.

  • 5.

    Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin.

  • 6.

    If stuffing sugar pumpkins, use raw rice and mix together into raw rice.

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