Sat, Apr 30, 2016 - Page 12 News List

Pumpkin with a chestnut twist

Long popular in Japanese cuisine, kabocha has many fine qualities and provides a rich creamy sweetness to a wide variety of dishes

By Ian Bartholomew  /  Contributing reporter

This dish is based on a North African dish, tbikha, which according to Claudia Roden, a great authority on Mediterranean cooking, is really just any mixture of vegetables, fresh or dried, cooked together with chickpeas or beans. For me, the tomato and chickpea mix is perfect for dialing back the richness of the kabocha. A mix of cinnamon, Thai chili and sweet pepper has replaced harissa, often used in authentic versions of tbikha, as this North African hot paste is not readily available in Taiwan.


700g kabocha

Generous glug of olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

Nub of ginger, crushed

1/2 stick cinnamon

1 small local chicken (土雞), chopped into large pieces

400g can tomato concasse (peeled and seeded)

1 tsp sugar

Salt and pepper

1 small hot chili (朝天椒), seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped (more if you want to ramp up the heat)

1 red sweet pepper, seeds removed, diced

2 cups cooked chickpeas

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped


1. Remove the hard skin of the kabocha with a cleaver or chef’s knife. The skin and flesh are extremely hard and some care should be taken. Cutting the kabocha in half to provide a nice stable surface before cutting away the skin is recommended, as is the use of a sharp knife with a very stiff blade.

2. Remove the seeds and fibers with a spoon.

3. Chop the kabocha into bite sized chunks and set aside.

4. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat with a generous glug of olive oil. Add the onion and fry until translucent.

5. Add the ginger, chili and sweet pepper and cook for another 5 minutes until the onions are beginning to brown. Add the cinnamon, tomato, sugar and chicken, stirring to mix well. Add the pumpkin and chickpeas, stirring again to mix.

6. Cover and cook for 40 minutes over low heat, stirring once or twice more. The vegetables will give off liquid, but if the mixture seems too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water. Season with salt and pepper about half way through cooking.

7. Serve with copious amounts of chopped flat leaf parsley.

Ian Bartholomew runs Ian’s Table, a small guesthouse in Hualien. He has lived in Taiwan for many years writing about the food scene and has decided that until you look at farming, you know nothing about the food you eat. He can be contacted at

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