Pumpkin and Bechamel Pudding قرعة بالبشامل

Stewed pumpkin topped with bechamel is a surprisingly addicitive combination. It is a dessert that is well-loved in Egypt and Eastern Libya. While pumpkin is almost a staple vegetable in Libyan cuisine, it is mostly used in savoury dishes, such as couscous, lamb stew or steamed pasta. This pumpkin pie is one of the few exceptions. The Egyptian version of the pudding includes a sprinkling of raisins and nuts between the layer of pumpkin and bechamel, and these can be easily added to this East Libyan recipe.  Pumpkin with bechamel is easy to make, and is delicious served either hot or cold.

Serves 6

1/2 kilo pumpkin
100g butter (melted)
100g flour
2 cups sugar
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Stick of cinnamon (optional)
2 eggs
Cut pumpkin into squares and place in a pan with 1 cup of sugar and just enough water to cover, and the cinnamon stick if using. Cook on low heat until pumpkin is tender.
Remove the pumpkin, leaving about 2 cups of liquid in the pan. 
Add the flour to the liquid.

Add 1 cup of sugar and 2 cups of milk while whisking.
Add the eggs and the vanilla and stir until smooth.
To inrtensify the sweet bechamel’s pumpkin flavor, add a few pieces of pumpkin and mash. Pour in the melted butter  and give one final stir.
Mash the rest of the pumpkin squares with a fork roughly.
Spread less than a third of the pumpkin bechamel in an oven-proof dish, add mashed pumpkin on top, and then cover with the rest of the pumpkin bechamel. 
Place in the oven until surface becomes golden. Serve hot or cold.