Curried Pumpkin Risotto Recipe - Vote for Becky

I met Miss Becky Cridford in Panama.  Jeff and I thought we had one of the most remote, toughest sites in Peace Corps.  Becky was a five hour hike above us.  This hike involved fording the Mamoni River seven times and some of the muddiest trekking we did.  Becky was volunteering with an organization called CREA that was building a demonstration farm way up on the edge of some pristine primary rain forest.  Becky's a nurse and was brought on board to teach basic first aid classes in the nearby community of Las Ziena.  Jeff and I worked with Becky and her co-volunteer Danielle to bring a sex education presentation to the community. 

Becky has since gone back to England, but is ready to go back out and do more good in the world.  She needs your help.  She has applied for a grant to teach pediatric nursing to Sierra Leone.  Check out 30 second video and see for yourself:

Vodafone Foundation is asking for the public to vote on who they think should receive the grant money.  The top two will receive the funding they need to complete their projects.  Currently Becky's in third place. 

Check out those adorable faces.  You would be helping kids like these get medical care. 

Did you vote?  Please go vote before you read on. 

Becky's also a great cook.  In Panama she showed me how to make risotto.  It was kind of a slap-shot recipe as we generally had neither the correct arborio rice or real parmesean.  We'd make it with that powdered Parmesan stuff that is shelf stable and regular white rice.  It was some of the most comforting food we ate in Panama and got reinvented many times over.  This is my favorite Panama reincarnation.  It leaves out the Parmesan all together so I'm not even sure if it counts as Risotto. 

This recipe was created out on desperation. How to cook yet another pumpkin? I bought an auyama (pumpkin-like winter squash) at the fruit stand in Chepo. I pitched the skin and innards in the compost pile. Soon we had little pumpkin seedlings coming up in the resting side of our compost bin. We let them grow. A month or two later there were five huge pumpkins. Luckily, auyamas store well. This recipe is a hybrid of pumpkin pie, curry and Italian risotto. It's entirely different than its sources and entirely delicious!

Curried Pumpkin Risotto
2 liters of water
1 cube bullion (chicken, beef or veggie)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chunked
6 cloves garlic, chunked
1 1/2 cups dry rice
5 cups squash, pealed and cubed
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup Soya Chunk, re-hydrated (Textured Soy Protein)

Step 1: In a pot, heat water with the bullion to make stock. Keep the stock simmering for the whole recipe. If you have real stock it will make this recipe all the better.  We used bullion because it was easy to backpack in. 

Step 2:  In a separate large pot, saute the onions and garlic in the oil until translucent.

Step 3:  Add the rice, squash, ginger and the rest of the spices. Ladle in enough stock to cover all the ingredients with about a half inch of liquid.

Step 4: "Stand by your risotto!"  Now imagine that said with a British accent.  That's how Becky would say it.  Add a cup of stock every couple of minutes to the rice mixture. Stir continuously, scraping the bottom of the pot, between cups of stock. If you don't stir it will burn to the bottom. The stock should always just cover the ingredients, but not by more than an inch and the mixture should stay just below a simmer. The constant stirring will break down the rice as it cooks, transforming it into a sticky-risotto texture. It will also break down the squash into a creamy puree. You may or may not use all the stock, that's okay.

Step 5: When the rice and pumpkin are cooked and the mixture is thick, add the pre-hydrated Soya. Take the risotto off the heat. (Stir in an extra cup of stock, if it is really thick because it will thicken as it cools.) Let it set for ten minutes covered.

Step 6: Serve and enjoy! This is a giant pot of risotto, share with your neighbors, save for left overs, or cut the recipe in half. To mix up the flavor, at the end, try adding a cap full of vinegar and some honey to make it more sweet and sour. For a little something crunchy, serve with finely diced onions on top.

Now that you have read this delicious recipe and you believe in the culinary and nursing skills of Becky.  Help her get the votes she needs.  Cut and paste this request for votes to your blog or facebook status.  Your help is much appreciated!
There are is only one pediatric doctor and no pediatric nurses in Sierra Leone.  Becky is a dedicated nurse who want to teach nurses.  With your vote you can help her recieve the funding she needs to get training to a country that needs it.  Please take five minutes and vote for Rebecca Cridford.  Thanks  http://www.facebook.com/worldofdifference?v=app_10531514314
Good Luck Becky!


  1. I like your hybrid recipe! Good luck to Rebecca, she got my vote :)

  2. Wow that pumpkin is gorgeous! I love pumpkins, everything about them! Smell, look, taste. I love thanksgiving and fall :)

  3. Foy, this is so perfect! I'm going backpacking this weekend and was contemplating trying to make risotto for one of our suppers. I kinda gave up because I wasn't sure what I could sub. or omit to make it pack-friendly. I'm so glad I read this before I took off. I should really look for more backpack recipe inspiration in your Panama cookbook.

    Love you!

  4. Awesome recipe and a great story!!

    Go Becky!


  5. An amazing story. One of coolest things is how we all adapt to our environment and create the best we can out of what we find. Gives you hope for humanity.

  6. Wow we love anything with pumpkin! I bet my son will love this recipe :)

  7. This is brilliant. Glad to have found your blog :) I look forward to following you!

  8. Thanks for the inspiration, I decided to make a sweet potato risotto instead of pumpkin based off your suggestions.

    I tried voting but Becky already won.

  9. I made this recipe while backpacking on the Superior Hiking Trail last weekend. I used a butternut squash and it was delicious. I was concerned about the lack of white wine and parm, but didn't miss it in the end. I forgot to bring any kind of oil/fat with so I didn't sweat the onions, just tossed 'em in with the rice. Next time I'll do the chopping before I pack and that will save some prep time on the trail. Thanks for the inspiration, best backpacking food ever!

  10. This looks so yummy. Similar to some recipes from Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. I just love those flavors together.