Kar' Assaly: Egyptian Pumpkin Pie
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
Autumn is officially in full swing, with chilly weather bringing comfy sweaters, trips to the cider mill, and plenty of sugary sweets.
Americans of all backgrounds have grown to admire the country’s native fall harvest each year, which brings one special crop in particular: pumpkin. Technically considered a fruit, pumpkin can be used to make savory desserts, hearty soups, and tasty beverages to get through the cold weather.
While pumpkin pie has become an American holiday staple, the Arab world is also using the fruit for traditional recipes. Kar’ Assaly (Arabic for “pumpkin pie”) is a classic Egyptian dessert that is gaining popularity in America. It consists of cooked pumpkin, mixed with lots of sugar, butter, nuts and raisins. The dessert is then topped with with béchamel. Those with a super sweet tooth can add maple syrup, honey, chocolate chips, nuts, and/or vanilla ice cream on top to make kar’ assaly extra delicious.
Although the origins of the dish are unknown, its place in the homes of Egyptians will always be revered. Rather than baking a traditional American pumpkin pie, try this Egyptian version to help blend Arab and American customs together this holiday season.
Recipe for Kar’ Assaly
- 1 medium pumpkin (butternut Squash)
- 200 sugar for each 1 kg of pumpkin flesh
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup freshly grated coconut
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
- ½ cup unsweetened almond or cow milk
- ½ tsp natural vanilla extract
- 2 tsp plain flour or corn flour
- Slice the pumpkin into wedges and remove the seeds and skin. Chop the pumpkin flesh and weigh. Add the flesh to a pan and allow the pumpkin to cook very slowly in its own juices, stirring occasionally to prevent the pumpkin from sticking to and burning on the bottom of the pan.
- When the pumpkin is very soft drain away any excess fluid then add 200 g sugar for every 1 kg of original pumpkin weight. Stir until the sugar dissolves then take the mixture off the heat and set aside to cool.
- Mix the almonds, raisins, grated coconut and spices together to make the filling.
- To make the creme bechamel, whisk the flour into the milk and add the vanilla essence in a pan. Bring to the boil and stir continuously until it thickens – add more milk or some water if too thick.
- Grease a baking dish and layer half the pumpkin mix on the bottom, cover with the nut mixture, and add the rest of the pumpkin on top. Depending on how big of a portion you’re making, you could have several alternating layers.
- Add the creme bechamel on top, and bake at 220 C for about 15 minutes or until golden brown, like so.
- Serve with some real maple syrup or honey for more sweetness. Or indulge with a scope of vanilla ice-cream, sprinkled with pumpkin seeds, nuts and chocolate chips!
Recipe from Gourmet Cooking Club