Khoresh Kadoo Halva’ee – Halloween Stew

Khoresh is Farsi for stew – you may recall. A few posts ago we made a gorgeous rhubarb stew (modesty: out the window!) and the festive concoction pictured above is another type of Persian stew called “khoresht’eh kadoo halva’ee” which translates into “butternut squash stew.” But let’s instead nickname it “Halloween Stew” in honor of that very awesome and very American holiday of ghosts, goblins, candies, and costumes. It seems an appropriate nickname. After all, a butternut squash is kissing cousins with the pumpkin; tastes like candy when cooked; and the orange color of its flesh is the trademark color of Halloween.


Just like its namesake holiday, a Halloween Stew is childlike and all grown-up at the same time: there is the sweet-as-candy butternut squash taste but then there are prunes involved! The flavoring of this stew is something lush: as is the wont of Persian cuisine, there are many contrasting notes of texture (soft and chewy and mushy) and flavor (earthy, sweet, mildly tart) whirling and combining to form a frighteningly pleasurable dining experience.


I’ll keep it short and sweet this time and skip (just after this one pic) right along to our haunting Halloween Stew recipe.This is no trick. Just a treat.

Happy Halloween!


  • 1 butternut squash (at least 2 lbs)
  • 1 cup (or more, up to you) pitted prunes
  • 1/2 lb stew meat
  • 1 medium onion (chopped or sliced)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 big lemon (freshly juiced)
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric (1/2 for sauteing squash, 1/2 for sauteing onions)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger (signature touch of Maman but optional
  • salt & pepper to taste


  1. Peel the butternut squash. Cut 1″ thick slices. Discard seeds. Then cut each slice into 3 or more smaller chunks.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon (or more) of olive oil and saute the butternut squash pieces for 10-15 minutes until they are nearly cooked. Then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and stir to mix. Leave aside for now.
  3. Saute prunes in 1 tablespoon of olive oil – very briefly, just give them a whirl or two. Leave aside for now.
  4. In a big pot, heat oil till it sizzles. Add onions, sprinkle with salt (prevents onion from emitting liquid and getting soggy) and saute (avoid over-stirring) over medium heat – for 5-6 minutes – until nicely golden and translucent. Then add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and pepper. Stir to mix.
  5. Add meat to the onion and saute over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, searing the meat on each side. (Tip: if necessary, add more oil or 1-2 tablespoons of hot water to avoid burning the meat while searing.) If you are using the grated ginger (optional but nice) add it half-way through this step of searing the meat.
  6. Once you’ve seared the meat, Add 3 cups of water to it, also add salt to taste, and bring to a boil. Cover pot with lid, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1 1/2 hour (or longer if necessary) until the meat is tenderly cooked. Halfway through cooking the meat, add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric. In the final stage of cooking the meat (the last quarter of hour before you expect the meat to be th0roughly cooked), add the tomato paste and lemon juice. At this time also add in the butternut squash (taking care not to break/smoosh the pieces) and the sauteed prunes as well. Stir gently. Cover and continue to cook on low heat for another 15 minutes.
  7. Adjust salt and lemon juice to taste. Serve!


Serve hot – poured into a deep serving bowl. When transferring stew to the serving bowl, use a delicate touch with the butternut squash pieces to avoid crumbling. As an optional nice touch, sprinkle a thin dusting of cinnamon on top of the serving bowl if you so please.

Serve with fluffy rice!

Make it, and enjoy it, and noosheh jaan!

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Comments (32)

  • Yvonne Rafi 12 years ago Reply

    This will be part of our Thanksgiving.
    Everyone will send you blessings on clouds of gratitude. You are beyond wonderful.
    I’m going to make two. One ba goosht, one be goosht. Yum.

    azita 12 years ago Reply

    Dear Yvonne, I’d love to know how to make a veggie version of this. Will you share your be-goosht recipe with me? How do you make the stew broth taste rich without the meat

  • petit4chocolatier 12 years ago Reply

    This dish is superb! I love your pictures; especially before and after.

    azita 12 years ago Reply

    Thank you! The before/after stuff tickles my funny bone! I’d like to do a whole series about them.

  • apuginthekitchen 12 years ago Reply

    This is another stew I never tried, I love it! The butternut squash is a wonderful addition a little sweet in a savory stew. What kind of meat do you use, I know you can probably use any kind just want to know what you like. Your tadiq looks perfectly crispy and delicious.

    azita 12 years ago Reply

    I’ll make it for you one day Suzanne! Until then, let’s see, my mother prefers (the very non PC) veal for almost all stews. There you have it! 😉

    apuginthekitchen 12 years ago

    Totally not PC, well I think good beef would be good in this lamb might be too strong and overpower the squash; Even a vegetarian version would be wonderful. Would love for you to make it!!

    azita 12 years ago

    I’m hoping Yvonne (lovely friend who commented above) will share her meatless recipe for me and we would re-make this vegetarian style. I’d be into that too. Meanwhile, if you use beef, the cooking time will be on the longer end (1 and half hour to 2 hours) … just FYI.

  • B. Farajollahi 12 years ago Reply

    What a genius idea!!! And  what  a master piece of tahdig!      

    azita 12 years ago Reply

    Seriously? We were looking at the tadig “ba negaheh tahagor” but now boosted by your compliment I’m puffing up thinking yeah, that’s pretty damn good tadig!

  • johnnysenough hepburn 12 years ago Reply

    Love the idea of this. It’s very seldom I’ve cooked butternut squash, except for soup. My last post I’m going to try with chunks of marinated stewing beef this w/end so this recipe might have to wait a while. Will have to try it, especially with prunes!

    azita 12 years ago Reply

    You make me catch my breath with all the cooking that you do – at the level of cooking that you do! I hope you’ll get a chance to make a version of this. Let me know if you do!

  • arefadib 12 years ago Reply


    azita 12 years ago Reply

    Seriously? That means a lot Mehrdad jan. Seriously!

  • leduesorelle 12 years ago Reply

    Perfect for these cooler, way to much shorter days! I’m most intrigued by the delicious-sounding (and looking!) combination of squash, prunes and meat…

    azita 12 years ago Reply

    Way too much shorter days … the downside of fall! Have to agree, it’d be a cheerful and hearty meal for the season.

  • Peace Of Iran 12 years ago Reply

    My mother in law makes this sans meat as a vegetarian side dish. She also adds sweet potatoes or yams… MMmmm! I wish it was cold here in L.A. so I could cozy up with some khoresht. Lately it’s been more abdoogh hiar weather! Love the post!

  • azita 12 years ago Reply

    Dear POI: so good of you to visit. That’s first! We’d love to do a veggie version of this – I would love to get my paws over your mom-in-law’s recipe. I’m curious to know if she substitutes anything (and if so what) for the meat. Would that be possible? That’s second! xo

  • tableofcolors 12 years ago Reply

    This stew looks fantastic!

  • azita 12 years ago Reply

    Hello! Thank you for visiting and for the nice comment!

  • Suzie 12 years ago Reply

    Hi Azita, I wanted to thank you so very much for helping with Veronica’s fundraiser for myself. I really appreciate your kindness and generosity! I look forward to your blogs 🙂

    azita 12 years ago Reply

    Suzie, nice to meet you! It’s absolutely my pleasure to help with the fundraiser and I hope it will be a huge smashing success!

  • Mmmm I love sweet/savory stews. This looks amazing. I’ll be trying it with the handy butternut squash I have in my kitchen as I type!

    azita 12 years ago Reply

    Ooh, how cool, do let me know how it turned out if you end up making the khoresh. Would love to know.

  • Iruni in Dubai 11 years ago Reply

    Azita jan, please get a literary agent and publish this blog as a book. It is too divine.

    azita 11 years ago Reply

    Iruni in Dubai jan, you made my day! Kayf kardam az ein comment! Thank you for visiting and commenting!

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