|GHAPAMA - Photo credit: Pam Aghababian, http://cavecibum.blogspot.com/|
I was reminded by my friend Ara that there is a traditional song re-popularized by Harout Pamboukjian about this wonderful Armenian dish. “Hey Jan Ghapama, Hamov Hodov Ghapama”, meaning ‘Dear Ghapama, tasty, aromatic ghapama’. Ara went on to say the lyrics claim that over 100 guests will come if (ghapama) is ever made.
A more formal, yet fun, rendition of the ghapama song was performed by the KOHAR Symphony Orchestra and Choir of Gyumri, Armenia.
1 pumpkin, about 3 lbs.
1 ½ cups rice
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) butter, melted
¼ cup each of dried plums, apricots, cherries, chopped
¼ cup raisins
½ - 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of salt, or to taste
1 – 2 Tbsp. honey (or sugar)
½ cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pecans), optional
¼ cup hot water
2. Scrape out the stringy fibers and seeds. Discard fibers, but rinse and save the seeds for roasting later on, if desired. Rinse the inside of the pumpkin; pat dry.
3. In a saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add rice, stir, cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Cook rice for about 15 minutes. Rice should not be completely cooked. Drain any excess liquid.
4. In bowl, mix together the partially cooked rice, chopped, dried fruit, melted butter, salt, cinnamon, honey (or sugar), and nuts, if using.
5. Loosely stuff filling into pumpkin; pour the ¼ cup hot water over the top of the filling.
6. Place the pumpkin on a baking sheet for support. Put the top of the pumpkin back on and bake at 325°F for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until soft. Insert a toothpick into the pumpkin to determine tenderness.