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Recipe: Sweet Pumpkin Coils for Fall

Pumpkin has been beloved in Sephardic Jewish communities ever since the sixteenth century, when it was first introduced to Europe from North America. Greek and Turkish Jews use pumpkin to make a variety of soups, stews, and fillings for sweet and savory pastries (bulemas, filas, borekas, pastels), as well as fritadas (baked omelettes). They often serve a sweet pumpkin custard called fnaro at weddings, circumcisions, and other special occasions. Italian Jews often use pumpkin to stuff ravioli (tortelli di zucca), make fritters (fritelle di zucca), and bake cakes such as torta di barucca. The ingredient is essential to zucca franta: mashed pumpkin flavored with olive oil and herbs that is traditionally served to break the fast of Yom Kippur. Tunisian Jews often begin their meals with a cold pumpkin puree called ajlouk el qar, which is flavored with lemon, ground caraway, coriander. As it is associated with fall, pumpkin is often served during the autumn Jewish holidays: Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, and Hanukkah. Now that fall is finally here, please enjoy this recipe for sweet pumpkin coils!

Recipe initially featured in Hazana: Jewish Vegetarian Cooking by Paola Gavin, published by Quadrille, now adapted.

Sweet Pumpkin Coils

Rodanchas de kalavassa amarillia (Greece)

In the past, these delicious coiled pastries from Thessalonika were made with homemade pastry, but commercial filo pastry makes them much quicker and easier to prepare. The filling is simply made with pureed pumpkin, mixed with sugar and a dash of olive oil, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, and rose water. Rodanchas are usually served lightly dusted with icing sugar.


12 sheets of fresh or thawed filo pastry, each about 30 x 18 cm
extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
icing sugar, for dusting

Ingredients for the filling:
1 small pumpkin, about 900g (2 lb)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
100 g (1/2 cup) superfine sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons rose water
100 g (1 cup) freshly shelled walnuts, finely ground in a blender or food processor

Makes 12 pastries.


To make the filling, bake the whole pumpkin in a preheated 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4 oven for 30 minutes or until tender.

Remove from the oven and when it is cool enough to handle, cut in half and remove the skin, pith and seeds. Place the pumpkin flesh in a large bowl and mash with a potato ricer. Add the olive oil, sugar, cinnamon, and rose water and mix well. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Hazana: Jewish Vegetarian Cooking
Full image
Paola Gavin's Hazana: Jewish Vegetarian Cooking.

Lay a sheet of filo pastry on a clean cloth, with the longer side nearest to you, and brush lightly with oil. Spoon a line of filling about 1.5 cm (1/2 in) thick along the long side of the pastry, just inside the edge.

Fold the edge over the filling then roll up into a long, thin tube, brushing the filo lightly with oil as you roll. Take hold of one end of the log and loosely roll it up like a coiled snake, being careful not to tear the pastry. Repeat with the remaining pastry and filling.

Arrange the coils side by side on a well-oiled baking sheet and brush the tops lightly with oil.

Bake in a preheated 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4 oven for 15 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When cold, dust lightly with icing sugar.

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Sweet Pumpkin Coils
Full image

Sweet pumpkin coils from Paola Gavin's Hazana: Jewish Vegetarian Cooking. Photographer: Mowie Kay. Food Stylist: Maud Eden.

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How to cite this page

. "Recipe: Sweet Pumpkin Coils for Fall." 4 October 2018. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 23, 2019) <>.


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