In Armenia, we believe that we grow the most delicious fruits because they taste of the sun. If you want to experience the flavours of the sun, try out this special recipe for a typically Armenian dish, one of my favourites: "ghapama".
"Ghapama" is a made from pumpkin which is stuffed and baked, and can be eaten as a main dish or as a dessert (I could eat it at any time of the day), but one thing is sure – "ghapama" is guaranteed to put you in a good mood and make for a cosy evening. So, to really get a taste of Armenian culture, put on the "Ghapama song" and let's get started!
P.S. As the song suggests, be prepared to host hundreds of guests if you are making ghapama, as no one can resist its delicious smell!
Here is what you will need:
- 1 medium-sized pumpkin
- 1 cup rice
- 4 tbsp. melted butter
- Raisins, dried plums and apricots
- Nuts (almonds and walnuts)
- 3/4 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp. honey (or sugar)
- Pinch of salt, or to taste
- 1/4 cup hot water
Now, it's time to prepare the filling. Bring two cups of water to the boil and add the rice and a pinch of salt. Reduce to a low heat and let it cook for 10-15 minutes (don't fully cook the rice as it will continue to cook in the oven). Drain any excess water, and let's add some colours to the rice. Cook the chopped dried fruits, raisins, and nuts (you can skip this step if you don't like cooked nuts) in melted butter, honey (or sugar) and cinnamon for 10 minutes, then add the half-cooked rice to the mixture.
Stuff the pumpkin with the mixture, keeping in mind that the rice will expand in size when cooked (so don’t overfill the pumpkin with mixture). Add ¼ cup of hot water. Cover the pumpkin with the top you cut off earlier and bake it at 165ºC for about 1 ½ to 2 hours. You can tell it’s ready when the pumpkin is soft (or when you can no longer resist the sweet smell!)
Et voilà! You’ve just prepared your own “sun” and now it’s time to eat!
P.S. Remember to take a photo when it comes out of the oven before there is nothing left!
This recipe was created by Arpine Hakhinyan.
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Hi, I am Arpine. I obtained my MA in Political Science and International Affairs from the American University of Armenia (AUA). Previously, I did my BA in International Relations. As part of my MA thesis on women's shelters, I completed an internship at the Women's Support Centre. I also worked as a research assistant at one of the research centres of the AUA, conducting research on the environment, gender issues and domestic violence. Later, I did an internship at the EcoEco Department of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, and an online internship in awareness raising at the Geneva-based Humanium NGO. During the 2017 Parliamentary elections in Armenia, I was a project assistant at the Transparency International Anti-corruption Centre in Armenia. Currently, I work as Media & Communications Coordinator at the NGO Creative Armenia. I'm really proud of becoming a Young European Ambassador and getting the opportunity to share European values in my country, especially in the regions.