Pumpkin Rice Recipe

Pumpkin rice is such a popular Jamaican, it has carved out its own identity  among the ‘seasoned rice’ set. To churn out a good batch of pumpkin rice is to end up with something akin to a nice risotto.  A good version of this rich creamy flavor filled rice dish requires only a ‘dry’ pumpkin and a few other staple ingredients. Pumpkin (aka calabaza squash) does not refer to the North American version. This pumpkin comes in many shapes and sizes. It is hard to give directions on picking the perfect pumpkin but you can substitute butternut squash for a good pumpkin.

pumpkin (Kabocha squash)
there are no definite rules for picking the perfect pumpkin. Though I have seen plenty of Jamaican housewives knock, shake and otherwise harass many a pumpkin trying to discern its quality.

As for a recipe. The main 2 ingredients in this delicious dish are pumpkin (calbaza squash) and white rice but, that’s where the similarities end. The dish is completed by adding a little butter or other oil. Other vegetables or herbs are optional. I like to add scallions or onion and thyme, a little salt and pepper is mandatory. Cured meats like salt fish  or corned beef make a tasty addition.


Pumpkin comes in many shapes, sizes and textures. The one I am most familiar with comes from the Kabocha family. A butternut squash yields a similar texture and flavor to a good pumpkin. I don’t like butternuts because the skin is very hard which makes it difficult to cut.

This particular recipe has been on my to do list for a while now. Mainly because the recipe was requested by a faithful soldier of mine months ago. Below is a versatile easy to follow recipe that you can reproduce in 45 minutes or less.

Serve pumpkin rice with any meat or combine with other side dishes for a complete meal. Or add the meat and make it a one pot meal.

making pumpkin rice

Saute the pumpkin with all the other ingredients , until the pumpkin is soft. Use a spoon or fork to crush some of the pumpkin (just mash it against the side of the pot) until you get a nice ‘stewlike’ texture. . Stir in the rice and add water.

making pumpkin rice


pumpkin rice with saltfish
Fluffly and soft but still shelly rice (al dente if we must) is what you’re aiming for.





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