Kadoo Borani – Afghan braised pumpkin

As soon as there is a chill in the air and the pumpkins are ripe and sweet, it is time to make this humble, sweet, and savory vegetarian dish from Afghanistan. I have never visited this beautiful country but my ancestors came from there. It seems the lineage attracts me to the beautiful cuisine:)

This dish is very popular in Afghanistan and there are so many versions. I have experimented with many over the years and my version here is by far the most exquisite. The squash bites are gently braised in aromatic spices and tomatoes and then served with garlicky yogurt are worthy of showcasing on an elegant holiday table

It is very easy to make this dish vegan by using a non-dairy yogurt – that simple.

A few tips that worked well for me

  • Butternut squash is perfect for this dish and readily available in the US, Cut in chunks which gives the dish a nice bite when tender
  • I lightly pre cook the squash in vegetable broth for 5 – 7 mins. I find this gives a better consistency that adding the raw squash to the sauce.
  • Use a good quality tomato paste and chopped tomatoes
  • Adjust the sugar to your tastes. I feel the tomato paste also imparts some sweetness so I have barely used 1 tsp of coconut sugar .
  • Use a heavy-bottomed pan which is large. My cast iron pan worked beautifully.
  • The use of dried mint in the yoghurt is just beautiful

Simmering Squash

Kadoo Borani - Braised butter nut squash - sweet and savory

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

A beautiful and aromatice way to braise squash in spices and serve with yoghurt the Afghan way...


  • 1 large butter nut squash, peeled and cut in thick slices
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp crushed fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 large tomatoes pureed coarsely
  • 1 Tsp coconut sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup thick yoghurt ( I used a plant based yoghurt)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp crushed dried mint


  1. Peel and butternut squash and cut in thick chunks or slices. You can dry roast the seeds for a snack.
  2. Finely chop the onions or whiz through a food processor. Do the same for the tomatoes
  3. Combine the yoghurt with garlic powder, salt and mint and put in the fridge.
  4. Using a large pan, heat the oil and add the onions. It will take about 10 mins for them to brown. I have used minimum oil so medium heat and a pinch of salt with help the onions.
  5. While the onions are browning, use another pan, add the broth ( about 3/4th cup) , bring to boil, add the squash and cover on low heat for 5 -7 mins.
  6. Once the onions are golden, add the garlic, ginger and all the spices and sugar and sauté for a minutes. Careful not to burn ( use broth or water if needed)
  7. Immediately add the tomato paste and tomatoes and cook the mixture for 5 mins
  8. Add the squash at this point with the broths its been cooking in. Bring to boil and then simmer covered for about 10 mins.
  9. You can check on the mixture and adjust the cooking time. It should be thick and saucy with tender squash pieces.
  10. To plate, layer yoghurt sauce on the serving platter and top with the squash. Add dollops of yoghurt sauce on top lightly.
  11. A sprinkle of dried mint or fresh cilantro is optional but super good.
  12. Serve with naan or rice.

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