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Tikvenik – Bulgarian Sweet Pumpkin Pie
From: Nelka

This is a very traditional autumn and winter dish here in Bulgaria. It’s almost always done at home and probably that’s the reason why I find it to be so comforting when I feel down or lonely or homesick. Or, simply, when I want to feel at home.

SERVES 8 -12

  • 1 (1 lb) package phyllo pastry
  • 1 1/2 lbs pumpkin or any suitable squash (peeled and seeded)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ounces walnuts (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 lb vegan margarine (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons caster sugar (for sprinkling)

Cut the pumpkin into large pieces and boil. You could do that in a sauce pan with water to cover, or even better steam boil it.

When soft enough drain place in a bowl and puree with a fork.

VARIANT: Some people instead of boiling the pumpkin prefer to grate it and sauté it with some butter or vegetable oil, and others prefer to grate it and put it in raw. Downsides are that in the first case it ends up quite greasy and in the second ¬quite crunchy.

Add the sugar, the walnuts and the cinnamon and mix in with the pumpkin.

If you decide to use the margarine, melt it.

Take two sheets of filo pastry and drizzle some butter on the top one. You could also use a single sheet, grease both sheets, or do as I do and skip the margarine altogether.

Spoon some of the pumpkin mixture over the pastry and roll loosely. Repeat with the rest of the pastry.

Take a non-stick baking sheet or tin (or else oil it). If it’s rectangular place the rolls parallel to each other. If it’s round start lining the rim with the rolls, slowly spiraling them towards the centre .

VARIANT: You could decide to do one whole pie instead of individual rolls. For that choose a baking tin slightly smaller than the size of the filo sheets (it could be round). Layer the sheets one by one slightly folding them to fit into the tin and to allow air between them. If you are using butter, drizzle some over each sheet you lay. When you have laid two sheets, spoon some pumpkin mixture on top. Continue layering the pastry and the pumpkin mix and finish off with a single sheet of dough.

Place the baking tin in the oven and bake at medium heat for about 20-30 minutes. 10 minutes into the baking you could take the pie out and spread some butter on it, but I don’t do that.

Let the pie cool down and serve sprinkled with some castor sugar.