Pumpkin & Chickpea Pilaf

Pumpkin and squash truly come into their own as we head into winter. Although harvested in autumn they need time to cure (dry and age) in a dry place for at least a month, ideally two. Nature has packaged them perfectly to last the winter months, the flesh sweetening and improving in flavour as time goes by – a little like a good cheese or wine. Of course, they won’t last as long but I do feel their sweet spot (quite literally) is from about now (June) through to August.

Even with curing, not all pumpkins and squash are created the same with some less sweet and flavoursome than others. Dry heat cooking, such as oven roasting, is my preferred cooking mode to evaporate moisture and intensify the flavour. For the recipe below, choose a dense-fleshed pumpkin such as a grey-skinned crown pumpkin or dark green-skinned buttercup squash.

If purchasing pre-cut make sure the inside is a deep orange colour from the skin to the seeds. I was lucky to find a large Queensland blue pumpkin at a produce market a few months back that I have been storing for this moment. This one-pan dish can be a meal on its own or served as a side to slow-cooked lamb. It is gently spiced with warming flavours, while the fresh herbs and seasoned yoghurt for serving bring a freshness to complete the dish.

Find more Pumpkin recipes on Homegrown Kitchen:

Pumpkin & Chickpea Pilaf

If preferred, and to save turning on the oven, the pumpkin and chickpeas (combined with the flavourings in the recipe) can be added along with the rice, adding ½ cup extra stock (using 2½ cups total stock). Noting that this option won’t be quite as sweet and flavoursome without the caramelising heat of the oven.
Servings 4 as a side
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 37 minutes


  • About 600g crown pumpkin or buttercup squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Pinch each ground cumin, coriander and smoked paprika
  • About ½ tsp salt, divided
  • 400 g can chickpeas (or 1½ cups cooked), drained
  • 1 onion (about 150g), diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • ½ cinnamon stick or ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (200g) white basmati rice (can also use quinoa)
  • 2 cups (500ml) hot vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp toasted sliced almonds
  • small handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • ½ cup (120ml) natural yoghurt seasoned with salt to serve


  • Preheat the oven to 190ºC (fan 170ºC).
  • First, prepare the pumpkin for roasting. Remove the skin from the pumpkin and chop into 2cm pieces. Put on a roasting tray, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, add the spices and a generous pinch of salt.
  • Toss to combine then arrange in a single layer on the tray. Put in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. After this time add the drained chickpeas, mixing to combine then return to the oven for a further 10 minutes until the pumpkin is tender.
  • While the pumpkin is cooking, heat a heavy-based frying pan over moderate heat. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil along with the onion and fry until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, spices and rice and muddle over the heat for 1-2 minutes until wonderfully fragrant.
  • Add the hot stock and a good pinch of salt (you may not need this if using seasoned stock). Cover with a lid and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Fluff the rice then gently fold through the roasted pumpkin and chickpeas. Scatter with sliced almonds and chopped coriander. Serve with seasoned yoghurt on the side.

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  1. Thank you Nicola. Every time I get into a dinner rut with my 4 year old you come to the rescue with a gentle and delicious meal we both love. I love your recipes.

    1. Hi Helen, thank you so much for taking the time to leave this lovely feedback. I am glad my thoughtful, gentle recipes can bring some inspiration to your kitchen.
      Happy cooking, Nicola

  2. Hello Nicola,
    I recently came across your website, and even though I haven’t made any of your delicious sounding recipes, I am very impressed. My eyes are on the pumpkin chickpea pilaf, and the orange fig biscuits. We are at the end of summer here in Canada, and time to put the oven on again for biscuits and comfort foods.
    I was born in NZ and married a Canadian but I still cook and bake mainly NZ type foods. Your blue is big and beautiful. I was lucky enough to buy a NZ blue pumpkin a couple of years ago from a farmers market, so very delicious, and I will look for another as the pumpkin season will be soon upon us. I live in hope.
    Regards Yvonne

    1. Hi Yvonne
      How lovely that you have found my website and can find some recipes to enjoy from my website to remind you of New Zealand.
      The blue skinned pumpkins are my favourite. Super sweet and dense flesh. I always look out for them at the markets.
      Happy baking!

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