This creates a firm, crunchy outer layer in the pumpkin pieces while their inside will turn soft and creamy.
This is a very traditional Brazilian recipe. Kabocha is a wondrous Japanese pumpkin that is sweet and creamy, working well with both savoury dishes and desserts. The skin has a lot of the goodness from the vegetable and can be eaten, so do not throw it away, but use it in the Kabocha Pumpkin Skin, Onion and Chorizo Fritter recipe.
- Yield: 12 Servings
- 2¼ lb (1 kg) kabocha pumpkin
- 1¼oz/3 tbsp (30 g) quicklime powder (calcium oxide, available online or from hardware shops)
- 28 fl oz/3 1/3 cups (800 ml) water
- 14 oz/1¾ cups (400 g) granulated white sugar
- 5 cloves
- 2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- Peel the kabocha pumpkin and cut it into 3 cm (1¼ inch) cubes. Place the cubes in a large sealable container.
- Dissolve the quicklime powder in 2 litres (3½ pints/8 1/3 cups) of water and pour this alkaline solution over the pumpkin, ensuring that the cubes of pumpkin are completely submerged in the solution. Cover the container and let it rest overnight.
- Discard the quicklime solution; place the pumpkin cubes in a large colander and thoroughly wash them under fresh running water to eliminate any traces of the quicklime mixture.
- In a pan large enough to hold the sugar syrup and pumpkin cubes, place the measured water and sugar, and mix well over a low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon and let it simmer for a few minutes until nearly boiling. Add the pumpkin cubes and continue simmering for about 30 minutes until the pumpkin is cooked, then remove from the heat. The pumpkin should have a firm exterior but be very soft inside; you may need to try a couple of pieces every so often to check doneness.
- Let the pumpkin squares cool down completely. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until needed. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Serve chilled or at room temperature.