Updated: Sep 1
If I had to choose only one dish made with pumpkin, I would go with this recipe. This porridge reminds me of my home-country. Rich and slightly sweet, it's definitely a comfort food for me. Pumpkins are very rarely used in savory Ukrainian dishes - in fact, in the countryside they're often fed to farm animals. This pumpkin porridge is something I grew up with, and it's really a favorite in many regions. We call it "garbuzova kasha." If you've ever had rice pudding or tapioca pudding, this porridge very much like those.
This is a super simple and delightful Ukrainian recipe with only a few ingredients: pumpkin, rice, milk, butter, vanilla, and salt. Sugar and toppings are totally optional.
Every spoon of this Ukrainian Sweet Pumpkin Porridge will give you a joy!
My mom, sister, and grandmother used to boil the pumpkin in milk. But I found that it's too easy for the milk to burn, so I prefer to use water. If you like a richer flavor and want to taste the real old way, go ahead and try it. Just check the notes below to see the trick for how to prevent milk from burning.
My parents' generation usually sweetened their pumpkin-rice porridge with sugar. I have to mention white beet sugar is the only sugar I knew before I came to the US. Ukraine used to be famous for sugar beets (and also wheat, apples, and sunflowers). Adding sugar isn't traditional, as sugar was a luxury for my grandparents' generation and the ones before them. I tend to go for honey or maple syrup instead. In the video I used a small amount of organic cane sugar because my husband insists on having some sugar. If it were just me, I wouldn't add any sugar at all.
It may seem unusual to have a pumpkin dish without pumpkin spice or cinnamon, but please, give it a try.
What Kind of Pumpkin Is Good for Ukrainian Sweet Pumpkin Porridge?
Any you have on hand. I used "New England Cheddar." Just make sure it's a baking pumpkin and not a decorative one.
Is Rice the Only Grain I Can Use?
No. In fact, in the old days, millet would probably be the first choice for Ukrainians. I've used quinoa, amaranth, bulgur, rice, and oats in this porridge. I love them all and will use whatever I have on hand. It's important to note that the cook time will vary depending on which grain you use.
Do I Have to Use Goat Milk?
The good news is this porridge can be vegan if you want. You can use any nut milk or cow's milk instead of goat milk. I love our local raw goat milk, so that's what I used in the video.
The amount of milk to use totally depends on your taste. I like thinner porridge, but my boys like it thick. The amount of milk in this recipe is somewhere in between. Feel free to adjust it.
How To Boil Dairy Milk
It's way too easy to burn dairy milk. Here's what you can do to avoid that:
1. Before you add milk and pumpkin to the pot, grease the walls of the pot with cold butter.
2. Add a little bit of water before adding the milk and pumpkin. Then continue to follow the recipe.
This method works for any recipe where you have to boil milk.
Storing and Reheating Porridge
This porridge keeps easily up to 5 days in the fridge.
The best way to reheat it is on the stove with extra milk or water added.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
2½ lb. baking pumpkin (2 lb. peeled weight), cut into ¾-inch chunks
3 cups water
1 cup milk (I used goat, but you can use nut or cow milk)
1 cup short-grain rice, washed (such as sushi rice or risotto rice)
2 teaspoons pink salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup raw cane sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon of honey, dry cranberries, or nuts for garnish (optional)
Put the cut-up pumpkin in a saucepan and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is very soft.
Add the rice and salt to the saucepan and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, until the rice is just cooked.
Add milk and vanilla extract, then mash the pumpkin with a potato masher until it's liquid. Cook the porridge for another 10 minutes, stirring so it doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan. Add a splash more water or milk if it starts looking dry.
When the rice is soft and the porridge is thick and creamy, stir in the butter and sugar.
If you feel the porridge could be sweeter, drizzle over some honey or dry cranberries. Chopped nuts are a great addition as well. Feel free to come up with your own toppings. After all, you're the boss of the kitchen.