About the Recipe
Growing up in Zimbabwe when my sister and I were young kids, we had our own little adventures playing in the garden including prodding Chongololos (giant African millipedes) and watch them curl up defensively. My grandkids, on one of their frequent visits to Zimbabwe, renamed the pie I made for them Chongololo pumpkin pie!
Traditionally pumpkin and cheese pies called Boyos de kalavasa were made with yeast by the Sephardic community in Rhodes Island.
I like to make a large coiled version with store bought filo pastry. It is delectable infused with the warming cinnamon and clove spices, a tangy combination of Greek cheese, crunchy chopped toasted almonds and olive oil. This pie makes a spectacular festive centerpiece when entertaining or is just perfect for a cozy weekend family gathering. You can make the pie ahead of time and pop it in the oven to bake before serving.
For the pastry:
1 packet (250g) filo pastry at room temperature
For the pumpkin and cheese filling: 1kg (21⁄4lb) pumpkin or butternut, peeled, seeded and cut into 5cm (2in) cubes
2 tsp caster (superfine) sugar or honey 1⁄2 tsp salt or to taste 1 tsp ground cinnamon a pinch of ground cloves 1⁄2 cup cooked rice (optional) 1⁄2 cup crumbled feta cheese 1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds 1⁄2 cup olive oil (or unsalted melted butter or a mixture of both), plus more for brushing
For the topping: 1-2 tbsp sesame seeds
Prepare the pumpkin and cheese filling: To steam the pumpkin, pour water into a pan to a depth of about 2.5cm (1in). Place a steamer basket in the pan. The water should come just up to the bottom of the steamer. Cover and bring to a boil. Place the pumpkin chunks in the steamer basket, cover and steam for about 30-40 minutes or until tender. Remove the hot pumpkin and place in a clean tea towel or dish cloth and let cool. Then squeeze out the excess moisture.
Place the cooked pumpkin in a bowl and mash with a potato ricer. Add the sugar, salt, spices, cooked rice (if using), cheese, almonds and oil and mix thoroughly.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly brush a round baking pan with 1 tbsp oil.
To shape the coiled pie: Open a filo sheet on a flat work surface with the wide end nearest to you. Keep the remainder covered with a damp tea towel. Brush with the oil, butter or a mixture of both.
Spread about 4tbsp of the filling evenly along the edge of the filo and carefully roll the pastry up into one long cylinder about 3.5cm (1.5in) in diameter, tucking the filling in on the edges.
Holding the roll in both hands, gently twist it almost the way one wrings wet laundry. Place one end of the twisted roll in the centre of the prepared tray and coil it tightly into a spiral shape. Repeat until the pastry and filling are used up, placing each twisted roll to each other, working your way in a coil towards the rim of the tray.
Brush the top of the pastry coil with oil and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm cut into wedges so that each piece is comprised of part of the several rolls.
Stella’s Hint: * 2 x 500g (1lb 2oz) cans pumpkin, drained and squeezed, can be substituted for the fresh cooked pumpkin