This delicious Jamaican style pumpkin rice is a great savoury side dish to add to your dinner table during the holiday season.
When it comes to the fall and winter period, you know that squash is always on the scene. Winter wouldn’t be the same without pumpkin making an appearance. Today I’m going to show you how I make my version of pumpkin rice, it’s full of flavour, minimalistic and makes the perfect side dish especially for thanks giving or at the dinner table during the fall.
Types of squash
The term squash in an umbrella description of various squash varieties and they include
- Butternut squash
- Calabaza (West Indian pumpkin)
- Yellow summer
- Gold Rush
Just to name a few. In the Caribbean and Latin America the most commonly used pumpkin for culinary use is the Calabaza which is round and varies in size and comes if different shades – green, red, tanned, orange and so fourth.
Where to purchase pumpkin?
During the winter/fall pumpkin in widely available in supermarkets and in the market. If you’re not skilled at cutting a whole pumpkin I would advise purchasing it from the market where you can ask them to cut the size that you need.
What if I cannot find Calabaza pumpkin?
I do appreciate it might not always be possible to purchase the same type of squash which I have cited. All varieties of squash are linked one way or another and tied to the same family. Therefore, you can use another version of squash without it impacting the results.
How to make pumpkin rice
Let’s talk ingredients – so my recipe is slightly modified compared what I ate as a youngster. I’m partial to some vegetable stock in place of water and quite like the taste of all purpose seasoning and pimento in my rice.
Pimento berries are also known as allspice. If you cannot find this ingredient then simply skip ahead.
The pumpkin – the squash needs to be chopped into small pieces, not diced but on the small side. Also, very very important make sure to use FRESH pumpkin.
I cannot empathise this enough because pumpkin is quite saturated so using frozen pumpkin will result in mushy rice and will impact the overall result. You want the pumpkin and rice to compliment one another.
Adding the liquid – as mentioned before my choice of liquid is vegetable stock while many islanders use water. This is just MY preference, if you want to use water that’s fine, just use the measurements written below.
Also, some people like to use coconut milk instead so you can quite easily spin this recipe on its head somewhat.Whatever the case please follow the measurements using your desired liquid. I have tried this recipe several times over to ensure the correct ratio of liquid/rice results in “fluffy” “shelly” rice.
Brown rice – I always use brown rice for my rice dishes. If you have been following my website then you will know I don’t endorse unrefined rice. Brown is more nutritional dense with plenty of minerals, it also keeps you fuller for longer.
Scotch bonnet – using a whole scotch bonnet adds flavour to the rice. Don’t burst the pepper as the membrane is where the heat is and will ruin your recipe. Keep in mind you only need the flavour not the heat. If you cannot source scotch bonnet pepper then add a whole chilli as an alternative.
The health benefits of pumpkin
Like many superfoods out there pumpkin is certainly no exception to the rule so let’s have a look at what pumpkin is rich in
- Low in saturated fats
- Low in cholesterol
- High in vitamin A and E
If I use vegetable stock, do I need to add any more sodium?
It depends on the brand of vegetable stock, most are loaded with addictive and preservatives which is why I like to recommend using my homemade stock .
Adding any pink salt is a matter of discretion and shouldn’t require much anyway.
What can I serve pumpkin rice with?
Well the rice itself is gluten free and vegan friendly, it all depends on your dietary needs
- meat i.e stewed chicken (non vegan)
- Legumes or pulse (meat free option)
- You will need my all purpose seasoning for this recipe
- homemade vegetable stock is also recommended but optional
- additional sodium is subject to the type of stock that you use
- DON’T use frozen pumpkin only fresh
- Remove the scotch bonnet prior to serving
How to make pumpkin rice in steps (with pictures)
Saute the onions, scallion and garlic until soft and translucent then add your herbs/spice and scotch bonnet
Add the chopped pumpkin and vegetable stock to the pot
Finally add the brown rice, lid on then reduce the heat to simmer for 25-30 minutes
- 4 cups of pumpkin chopped into small pieces
- 1 cup of brown rice rinsed
- 1 small onion chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 3 scallion sliced
- 1 tsp of all purposes seasoning see post
- 1 tsp of black pepper
- 3 pimento berries or 1/8 tsp of ground allspice (optional)
- 1 tbsp of dairy free butter
- 1 whole scotch bonnet
- 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 3 cups of vegetable stock can use water
- pink salt according to taste
- On medium heat, in a dutch oven or casserole dish begin to sautee the scallion, onion and garlic until transparent.
- Then add your all purpose seasoning, black pepper, sprigs of thyme, pimento berries, scotch bonnet and continue to cook and stir for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add the pumpkin along with the vegetable stock and finally add the rice grains.
- Bring to a rolling boil before adding the butter and reducing the heat to medium/low.
- Put the lid on the pot and allow the rice and pumpkin to cook through for 25-30minutes.
- Leave the rice to cook for the given time, don't stir the rice or the grains will fall apart. The rice will be fluffy with liquid asborbed completely.
- Once the rice is cooked, adjust for salt levels if needed