Festive Feasting - Roast Pumpkin with Persian Rice

by Olivia McCrimmon November 04, 2021 4 min read

Festive Feasting - Roast Pumpkin with Persian Rice

Looking for a show-stopping vegetarian Christmas recipe? This is it! We’ve turned up the festive vibes by adding Susie’s Stuffing to this Ottolenghi classic, which adds a satisfying crunch to the decadently soft and creamy pumpkin. We’ve paired the pumpkin up with Samin Nosrat’s cult recipe for Persian Rice. The tahdig (crispy rice cake) will be the meat free crackling you all deserve. These two make great sides to traditional Christmas roasts.


  • 1.5kg of Japanese pumpkin
  • 400g of Susie’s Stuffing
  • 200g of Natural Yoghurt
  • 90ml of Mount Zero Organic Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp of Mabu Mabu Organic Sriracha
  • 1 clove or organic garlic
  • Mount Zero Pink Lake Salt 
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 50g of coriander, leaves and stalks
Persian Rice
  • 3 tbsp of Natural Yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp of Saint David Dairy Butter
  • 2 cups of basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp of neutral oil 


  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan.
  2. Remove the pulp and seeds from the pumpkin and discard. Slice the pumpkin into crescent shaped wedges around 3cm thick. Place in a large bowl with the cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, ¾ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Mix well so that the pumpkin is evenly coated.
  3. Place the pumpkin on two baking trays and roast for 40 - 45 minutes, turning halfway, until soft and starting to colour on top. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  4. To make the herb paste, place the coriander, garlic, the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and a generous pinch of salt in a small food processor, blitz to form a fine paste and set aside.
  5. Place Susie’s stuffing in a lined baking tray and roast at 220°C/200°C Fan for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When crispy, transfer to a bowl lined with kitchen paper to remove some of the excess fat. Set aside.
  6. When you are ready to serve, swirl together the yoghurt and Sriracha sauce. Lay the pumpkin wedges on a platter, generously scatter over Susie’s Stuffing, drizzle over the spicy yoghurt sauce and then the herb paste. For some extra Christmas cheer you could scatter over some pomegranate seeds, slivered almonds and roughly chopped pistachios.

Persian Rice

  1. Fill a large pot with 4 litres of water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. In the meantime, place rice in a bowl and rinse with cold water, swirling vigorously with your fingers and changing the water at least five times, until the start has run off and the water runs much clearer. Drain the rice.
  3. Once the water comes to a boil, salt it heavily, around 1/3 of a cup. This sounds like a lot of salt but it will only lightly salt the rice itself. Add the rice, and stir.
  4. Set a fine-mesh sieve or colander in the sink. Cook rice, stirring from time to time, until it’s al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain into the sieve and immediately begin rinsing with cold water to stop the rice from cooking further. Drain. Remove 1 cup of the rice and combine it with the yogurt.
  5. Set a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat, then add the oil and butter. When butter melts, add the yogurt-rice mixture into the pan and level it out. Pile the remaining rice into the pan, mounding it gently toward the centre. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, gently dig five or six holes into the rice down to the bottom of the pot, which will be gently sizzling. The holes will allow steam to escape from the bottommost layer of rice so that a crisp crust can form.) There should be enough oil in the pan so that you can see it bubbling up the sides. Add a little more oil if needed to see these bubbles.
  6. Continue cooking rice over medium heat, turning the pan a quarter turn every 3 or 4 minutes to ensure even browning, until you start to see a golden crust begin to form at the sides of the pan, about 15 to 20 minutes. Once you see the crust turn from pale amber to gold, reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes. The edges of the crust should be golden, and the rice should be cooked completely through. There isn’t a way to tell what tahdig will look like until you flip it, so I prefer to err on the side of over-browning, but if that makes you uncomfortable, pull the rice after about 35 total minutes in the pan.
  7. To unmold the rice, carefully run a spatula along the edges of the pan to ensure that no part of the crust is sticking. Tip out any excess fat at the bottom of the pan into a bowl, gather your courage, and then carefully flip it onto a platter or cutting board. It should look like a beautiful cake of fluffy rice with a golden crust.
  8. Now it’s ready to serve. You could top with some ‘jewels’: pomegranate seeds, slivered almonds and roughly chopped pistachios but it will be delicious as is.