Ghapama, seasonal disk of Armenia © Shutterstock

Armenia’s pumpkin delight
How to make Ghapama, a traditional Armenian dish
1 Mar 2024

Ghapama is a seasonal dish traditionally served in the fall in Armenia to celebrate the bounties of autumn, also baked for major festive occasions, such as Christmas, New Year, Easter, weddings, etc. It is prepared from a whole pumpkin stuffed with rice, butter, honey, raisins, nuts and dried fruits.

As a traditional dish, Ghapama carries with it certain symbolism as it signifies the end of the year. Metaphorically, the walls of the pumpkin represent the ‘basket’, in which the harvest and the blessings of the year are contained. According to another legend, the Ghapama pumpkin represents the planet and its filling represents the people, whereby the entire dish comes to symbolize a world in which goodness, kindness and generosity prevail.

Republic Square in Yerevan, Armenia, at Christmas © Shutterstock

Ghapama is one of the most unique recipes of the Armenian cuisine in the sense that the main ingredient, pumpkin, serves as both a cooking and serving vessel.


1 pumpkin 

1½ cups rice

4 tbsp butter melted

1 cup of dried fruits, chopped

¼ cup raisins

¾ tsp ground cinnamon

1½ tbsp honey

½ cup nuts chopped

¼ cup hot water

dash of salt or to taste

To prepare Ghapama, the pumpkin’s core is delicately removed to preserve the peel, which is then mixed with the ingredients, placed back into the pumpkin and baked in the oven. The baking time is about 90-120 minutes, depending on the size of the pumpkin.

Step 1: Carving the pumpkin

Remove the top of the pumpkin and cut it open. Save the top to use as a lid.

Scoop out the seeds and clean wash the inside. Apply a tablespoon of butter honey mixture inside the walls of the pumpkin and sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon to coat the insides.

Step 2: Making rice for Ghapama’s stuffing

Cook the rice for 10 minutes, add a pinch of salt, drain and set it aside.

Step 3: Preparing the filling

Combine raisins, dried fruits and honey and cook with butter until the raisins are plump and the fruits have released their juice. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and add chopped nuts. Combine honey and melted butter into a pouring cup.

Step 4: Stuffing the pumpkin

Place the rice mixed with the filling into the pumpkin. Drizzle it with butter and honey. Place the top (lid) on the pumpkin and securely cover it with foil.

Position the pumpkin in an oven-safe dish and bake in a preheated oven for an hour at 350°F(180°C). Check it is done by testing the pumpkin’s flesh near the lid area.

Step 5: Serving the Ghapama

Place Ghapama on a big platter. Cut into wedges and serve as individual slices with spoonful of rice filling.

Bon appétit! 

If you would like to contribute a traditional and emblematic recipe from your country, to be featured in the magazine, please contact Valérie Coutarel at

* Valerie Coutarel is Chief of the French Section Interpretation Service at the UN in New York.
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