In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

That Pumpkin Cook Real Nice Boi!

trinidad pmpkin talkariGrowing up I remember hearing my mom saying to my grandmother or aunts in our unique accent “yea, that pumpkin real nice boi” and now that I occasionally cook pumpkin, I know exactly what they mean. No two pumpkins cook the same (end result), the texture, sweetness and overall taste can differ from pumpkin to pumpkin (and I don’t even mean variety… that’s another story altogether). The soil, amount of sun, rain (water) and growing conditions plays a huge part on the quality of pumpkin and the final product you get when it’s cooked.

That said, here’s a very simple recipe for cooking pumpkin which will almost guarantee a great final dish. (don’t forget to also check out the butternut squash recipe I posted many moons ago)

BTW, in Trinidad and Tobago this pumpkin recipe is usually called “Pumpkin Talkari” and it’s a hit at many of the Hindu homes and celebrations since it’s a vegetarian dish that’s full of goodness and simply amazing with roti.

You’ll Need…

3-4 lbs pumpkin (peeled and cubed – 1 inch pieces
1/2 medium onion (divided)
1/2 hot pepper (your choice – I used habanero) (to control heat, don’t use the seeds or inside ribs of the pepper)
3 cloves garlic chopped fine or crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin works best for me as it gives it a nutty flavour)
1 teaspoon salt (check at the end of cooking to add more if needed)
1/2 teaspoon golden brown sugar

Peel, cube and wash the pumpkin and drain off the excess water. Then in a deep pan, heat the oil on medium heat and add 1/4 of the sliced onion. Cook this for a couple minutes (until soft), then start adding the cubed pumpkin. BTW, if you live in North America you must note that this is NOT the pumpkin grown for Halloween. Go to any ethnic grocery store and they’ll surely have cooking pumpkin in stock.

how to cook pumpkin trinidad

trini pumpkin recipe vegetarian

how to cook pumpkin talkari

guyana pumpkin talkari

It will seem like a lot, but it will cook down. The next step is to add the rest of the ingredients, stir / cover and allow to simmer (low heat – covered) for about 30 minutes or until the pieces are tender and start to melt. You will notice that it will spring it’s own natural juices, the key at the end to ensure all of this is burnt off. After the 30 minutes or so you’ll need to use the back of your cooking spoon to gently crush any of the pieces that may still have the cubed shape (cook last few minute with the lid off). The idea is to get a smooth consistency at the end. Don’t forget to check for salt.

caribbean pumpkin recipe

cooking pumpkin

trini pumpkin recipe

vegetarian pumpkin recipe

trinidad pumpkin recipe

Didn’t I say this was a simple recipe? I’d love to hear from you.. maybe you have a unique twist on making this? Leave me your comments in the area provided below and don’t forget to join our group on Face Book! Click on the image below to connect!

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  1. Paul Marshall
    July 7, 2017 / 12:10 pm

    So not sure what pumpkin you are using here – however when I was growing up in Barbados Gran used what we called a garden pumpkin – bell at one end becoming a cylinder to where the vine was.

    Are you talking the same type?

    • admin
      July 8, 2017 / 3:10 pm

      any pumpkin/squash can be prepared like this. however the typical Caribbean pumpkin is the “caribbean calabaza pumpkin”.. do a quick search on google

  2. Nieceyrh
    June 21, 2017 / 6:58 pm

    I didn’t follow the recipe exactly but I eyeballed it and it worked beautifully… never realized how long the pumpkin needed to simmer… thanks for the suggestions of pinch of geera and massala… makes a big difference in the taste… loved this! Thanks Chris I cud finally make a good pumpkin…

  3. October 11, 2015 / 4:49 am

    This is a PERFECT dish for all the #PumpkinRescue / #DiscoSoup events that take place in the UK after Halloween with all the pumpkins that get discarded… I know Jack-o-lanterns are not as delicious as other varieties but I think would tasty up rather well with this world of flavours and spice.

    Love your blog BTW, cheers!

  4. David
    May 12, 2015 / 7:22 pm

    Devi when cooking sugar enhances your salt foods eg pumpkin or peas while salt enhances your sweet foods eg porridge

  5. Susie
    May 1, 2015 / 4:46 pm

    Adding coconut milk instead of sugar gives a creamy texture and with the jeera and garam masala it’s brilliant

  6. Donna Taylor
    March 9, 2015 / 10:22 am

    Dear Chris. I will enjoy this recipe. Thhank you Chris

  7. Kirwyn Marin
    February 17, 2015 / 5:17 am

    Hey Chris this is the traditional recipe that has been handed down for generations and you know what ? Its fail proof but I too like to add a bit of roasted gherra and also a touch of Garam Massala at the very same time the pumpkin is added to the pot so that I wont get that grainy taste of uncooked massala and gherra.

  8. Tony
    February 10, 2015 / 9:59 am

    add a teaspoon grind geera while cooking for the real trini taste.

  9. Taran
    February 18, 2014 / 9:45 am

    Sugar gives it that needed sweetness and for an extra kick add a pinch of roasted geera.

  10. devi
    February 7, 2014 / 6:53 pm

    why add sugar?

  11. angelintrini
    July 13, 2013 / 4:01 am

    This recipe worked beautifully

  12. KathyR
    June 22, 2013 / 5:33 am

    Pumpkin and Curry Shrimps cooked together tastes great.

  13. debbie
    November 4, 2012 / 11:32 am

    Great recipe ….. Everyone loves it.

  14. Allie
    September 1, 2012 / 8:28 pm

    Sallina, I have a hard time finding pumpkin also but I can always easily find butternut squash and have used it on several occasions to make "pumpkin" choka – I find the end result is very similar you don't mis the pumpkin (that being said if you had the two dishes side by side the pumpkin version would win out – but squash is an acceptable substitute)

  15. Kat
    July 17, 2012 / 5:48 pm

    Great recipe…I use it all the time.

  16. alty
    September 19, 2011 / 6:28 pm

    Great my husband loved it

  17. Keisha Boynes
    August 4, 2011 / 12:47 am

    Hey, I'm on this new quest of mine so I've been trying to make a couple of your recipes a week. Tonight, I made a pelau with cole slaw for work tomorrow and sada and pumpkin. They were all satisfactory with the exception of the pelau. I think the sugar burnt a little too much. Better luck next time. Thanks a million for what you are doing here!

  18. Radha Nehorah
    April 30, 2011 / 7:41 pm

    when buying pumpkin, it should feel dry, not soft and soggy,you can also use squash in place of our west indian pumpkin.Pumpkin needs to be cooked under slow heat, Use lots of garlic when cooking pumpkin, thats the secret ingredient for tasty pumpkin.


  19. Tyla
    March 24, 2011 / 2:26 pm

    love pumpkin

  20. sallina
    February 2, 2011 / 1:30 pm

    I live in North Carolina and it is very hard to find pumpkin, by any chance can you post a picture of what type of pumpkin I should use?

  21. Vanita
    October 29, 2010 / 11:42 am

    I usually sometimes add a tablespoon of curry powder and 1/2 tsp of cumin (geera)in the oil for a different flavour.

  22. August 2, 2010 / 6:51 pm

    Chanced upon your blog; loved the window to Caribbean cuisine.
    Regards the above dish, we have a similar dish, very simple: just boil the pumpkin alongwith slit green chillies in coconut milk and garnish of coconut oil.

  23. July 22, 2010 / 4:27 pm

    This pumpkin recipe sounds delicious and easy. I can't wait to try it!

    Guy Fieri

  24. June 29, 2010 / 12:16 am

    Pumpkin and paratha roti (buss-up-shut) is the combo that Guyanese love.

  25. June 28, 2010 / 7:40 pm

    I love this… thanks for posting. Making me feel for pumpkin now too.

  26. Denise Nurse
    June 27, 2010 / 1:26 pm

    Pumpkin choka is a favorite of mine with Sada Roti and buss up shot. When buying pumpkin, choose pieces with an even texture, firmness, rich yellow color, thin skin the smoother the better. Be careful in the US pumpkin is usually displayed under lights and orange awning that makes the color appear to be what it is not.

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