This dessert conserve comes from Afghanistan, where it is called Muraba-e-Kadu, and is based on a recipe in Helen Saberi’s Afghan Food & Cookery. She calls it jam, but the pumpkin holds its shape, so conserve seems more apt. Don’t be put off by the 60 cardamom pods: crack them open with mortar and pestle and remove the seeds over a bowl. The time and amount aren’t so much as it sounds, the spice lending a delicate fragrance. Dots of black are suspended in the amber glow.
Makes 5 to 6 cups.
Put the pumpkin in a medium large pot with heavy bottom. Remove the zest (outer orange layer of skin) from the oranges with a zester; or use a vegetable peeler, then with a sharp flat chef’s knife cut them into julienne matchsticks. Squeeze the juice to measure about 2½ cups. Put zest and juice into the pot with the pumpkin. Stir in the cardamom seeds (see headnote) and sugar. Let the pumpkin, fruit and spices marinate overnight in the refrigerator, covered, stirring once or twice.
Bring the pumpkin mixture to a boil; lower the heat and simmer for about 1¼ hours, top askew, until the liquid has reduced and thickened into a syrup and the pumpkin turns amber. Let it cool. Serve the conserve with plain thick yogurt.