All posts filed under: Afghanistan

Green Tea

Monday Meal Review: Afghanistan

Skipping Silverware No one moved an inch. Afghan music tiptoed softly about the room. Steam rose from our plates. I knew, as hostess to our dinner party of four, I had to make the first move. Holding my breath, I dipped my fingers into the slimy eggplant and brought the food to my lips. There was a pause. “Wow. This is…. good!” I said. The tension gave way to giggles. My friends gingerly dug their fingers into their meal. I waited, searching their faces. One by one, they smiled. “Yes, this is good!” Skipping silverware is not a simple proposal. Out of consideration for my friends, I had put a few forks by their plates – “just in case”they (or Mr. Picky) weren’t game. Even after everyone began eating with their hands, the challenge remained: not making a complete mess of our plates, our hands, and our faces. Even using a napkin became confusing; our hands just got dirty again. I can’t get over how much enjoyment I got out of being so uncomfortable. The awkward experience of using my hand as silverware gave me a fresh dining experience. I kept a …

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Sabse Borani

Spinach Yogurt Dip | Sabse Borani

Both tangy and sweet, Sabse Borani is no ordinary spinach dip. The caramelized onion is this recipe’s secret to success, elevating earthy spinach and yogurt to new heights. Wonderful with homemade noni Afghani (or any fresh flatbread). (Serves 4-6) Ingredients: 1 cup frozen, chopped spinach 1 medium onion, thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, crushed 2 Tbsp vegetable oil 1 cup drained yogurt salt, to taste Method: 1. Drain yogurt over a small bowl for 1 hour. Use either a coffee filter in a large colander or a fine strainer by itself. 2. Heat oil in a medium skillet. Saute the onion until golden, stirring occasionally. This can take 15 minutes. Watch that your pan does not dry out and the onions burn. If you do think the pan is drying out, add a little water and/or cover. 3. Add garlic and heat until aromatic. 4. Add spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. 5. In a small bowl, combine yogurt with spinach mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. For maximum flavor, serve cool, but not cold. Votes: 2 Rating: 4 …

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Cardamom & Rose Water Custard | Firnee

If you haven’t enjoyed rose water and cardamom before, you’re in luck! The bold flavors of this Afghan Firnee are a novel delight for the western palette. Rose water and cardamom give this creamy custard an ethereal quality, while the ground nuts add a mystifying texture. Enjoy with tea and dried apricots. (Serves 4) Ingredients: 2 1/4 cup whole milk 1 cup sugar 4 Tbsp cornstarch 1 tsp ground cardamom 1 capful rosewater 2-4 Tbsp pistachios, finely ground 12 whole pistachios for garnish Method: 1. Heat milk in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat. 2. In a small cup mix cornstarch with a few tablespoons milk. Stir to create a smooth, gravy like consistency. This is called a cornstarch slurry. 3. Add cornstarch slurry, sugar, cardamom, and rose water to saucepan. Stirring constantly, heat mixture until it thickens and a few bubbles break through the surface. 4. Remove from heat and ladle into serving dishes. This recipe will fill 4 small ramekins. 5. Cover with  plastic wrap, pressing lightly onto the pudding. This prevents a skin from forming on the custard. …

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Seer Moss

Lemon Garlic Yogurt Sauce | Seer Moss

When allowed to sit for an hour (or best overnight), this Afghan yogurt sauce strikes the perfect balance between garlic, mint and lemon juice. Even those who generally avoid mint will be won over by this sauce, especially when served with boldly spiced rice and vegetables. Serve with braised eggplant and Kabeli Palau. (Makes 1 1/4 cups) Ingredients: 1 cup plain yogurt 3-4 cloves crushed garlic 2 Tbsp lemon juice 2 Tbsp minced fresh mint 2 Tbsp Olive Oil Method: In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Let chill for at least an hour to let the flavors meld. If the mixture separates, simply stir together to recombine. Adapted from the Afghan blog, Foodie Man. Votes: 1 Rating: 5 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe When allowed to sit for an hour (or best overnight), this Afghan sauce strikes the perfect balance between garlic, mint and lemon juice. Even those who generally avoid mint will be won over by the fresh flavor, especially when served with boldly spiced rice and vegetables.Lemon Garlic Yogurt Sauce | Seer Moss CourseAppetizers & Snacks Lifestyle5-ingredients or less, Gluten-Free, Potluck Friendly, …

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Burani Bonjon

Spicy Braised Eggplant | Burani Bonjon

This Afghan braised eggplant dish is best served at room temperature. The cayenne gives the eggplant an enjoyable kick, while the turmeric gives it a golden glow. Serve with Seer Moss (Garlic Yogurt Sauce). Ingredients: 1 large eggplant (about 8″ long) 1/2 can diced tomatoes 4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced 4-6 Tbs vegetable oil 1 Tbs dried cilantro (use fresh for garnish if you have it) 1 tsp turmeric 1/8 tsp (or up to 1 tsp) cayenne pepper (mild or death-by-cayenne) Salt & Pepper, to taste Method: 1. Slice eggplant lengthwise 1/4 inch thick. Salt liberally on both sides and lay on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet for about an hour. The salt will draw out bitterness. Rinse the salt off of the eggplant and pat dry. 2. Saute crushed garlic in olive oil until fragrant in a large, heavy bottomed skillet. Set aside garlic in a small container. 3. Add  vegetable oil to the skillet and heat on medium-high. Add eggplant and brown, cooking in batches if necessary. The eggplant should be relatively soft when done. …

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Noni Afghani

Afghan Flatbread | Noni Afghani

  When cooked gently over medium heat Noni Afghani is soft and chewy. The yogurt keeps the bread moist, while the cumin seeds add an earthy flavor.  This comforting flatbread is ideal for sopping up Afghan dips and curries. Ingredients: 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (1 package) 2 tsp sugar 1 1/2 tsp salt 1 cup water 1/4 cup plain yogurt, low-fat or whole milk 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for bowl 2 Tbsp whole cumin seeds 4 Tbsp ghee or butter, melted Method: 1. In a large mixer with paddle attachment, combine flours, yeast, sugar, salt, water, yogurt, and olive oil. 2. Switch to dough hook. Mix for about 10 minutes, or until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be moist but not overly sticky. Add extra flour a little at a time, if necessary. 2. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a clean, oiled bowl. Cover and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size, …

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Kabeli Palau

Afghan Rice with Chicken & Carrots | Kabeli Palau

Kabeli Palau (also known as kabuli pulao) is a much loved party dish in Afghanistan. The highly seasoned rice dish is finished in the oven, giving the cook 45 minutes to prepare for the arrival of their guests (simply prepare garnish ahead of time). The intense flavor of garam masala is balanced by sweet bursts of carrot and golden raisins.  Update (2015): This is the original recipe as prepared for the blog; the recipe in my memoir has been further tested and streamlined. Note: You may purchase 6 cups chicken broth and use leftover chicken pieces. This will save you several steps (and at least an hour) if you are in a hurry. Ingredients: 1 lb basmati rice, rinsed 1/4 cup ghee or butter 1 large onion, sliced thin 1/2 chicken, bone in or 3 chicken breasts 2 Tbsp tomato paste 1 Tbsp salt 1 clove garlic, crushed 6 cups water 1 Tbsp garam masala 1/4 tsp saffron Garnish: 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks or shredded 1/2 cup golden raisins 1/2 cup slivered almonds pinch saffron 1/2 cup hot water Method: 1. In a large pot, bring 6 cups …

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Once upon Rose Water

“Stay focused,” I told myself. I finished picking through the 1/2 pound bags of cinnamon sticks and lifted my head, scanning the aisles for Rose Water.  The Indian grocery store, Laxmi Spices, was small but well-organized. Ava squirmed on my hip, reaching for the pretty bags in front of her. “Stay focused.” I whispered to her and walked towards the Rose Water. Ava let out a squeal and lunged to the side. I caught her and looked in the direction of her small, outstretched hands. That’s when I lost all self-control. There, on the floor, was a pile of steel pans. Glorious steel pans. Usually, I am an indecisive shopper. One look at these pans, however, and I knew that I would be purchasing one. Let me tell you, these pans are heavy-duty. They don’t have pansy plastic handles so they can go from  stove top to oven with ease. And they aren’t coated in nonstick, a product I only tolerate for omelette making. Their shape serves both as a wok and as a casserole dish (perfect for this weekend’s Afghan rice dish). For only twenty dollars this pan is better than anything …

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Ava and Mr. Picky enjoying their first taste of the adventure with Afghanistan

Menu: Afghanistan

After hours going through my cookbook collection, browsing through library shelves, and surfing online, I can honestly say that I am ready to eat some Afghan food! I put together a menu for this weekend, but not without some heartache (I had a tough time eliminating potential dishes – everything sounded so good!). Here’s what I came up with: Sabse Borani [Recipe] Traditional Afghan spinach-yogurt dip Burani Bonjon [Recipe] Spicy Braised Eggplant in a Garlic Mint Sauce (Garlic Mint Sauce recipe) Kabeli Palau [Recipe] Twice-cooked Basmati Rice with Chicken and Carrots. This traditional party dish is seasoned with graham masala and saffron. Noni Afghani [Recipe] Noni Afghani is a flatbread similar to Naan. Noni is used to scoop up food in the place of silverware. Firnee [Recipe] Firnee is a sweet custard seasoned with cardamom, rose water and dusted with finely ground pistachios. Dried Apricots Many Afghans enjoy the sweet taste of apricots after dessert. Connecting Cuisines You will notice several similarities between Afghan and Indian cuisines. This regional influence is just one of many. In Afghanistan, Enchantment of the World Terry Willis remarks: The flavors of several different …

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About Afghan Food (and we’re off!)

Dining under duvets I keep a cold house in the winter. Icicle nose cold. Sure, the frigid air makes me irritable, but usually throwing on another sweater solves that problem. Unless I am getting out of the shower, in which case I just have to grit my teeth and dry off quickly. Well, imagine my delight when I uncovered this gem of a fact about Afghan culture: In the depth of winter food is eaten around the sandali, the traditional form of Afghan heating. A sandali consists of a low table covered with a large duvet called a liaf which is also big enough to cover the legs of the occupants, sitting on their cushions or mattresses and supported by large pillows called balesht or poshty. Under the table is a charcoal brazier called a manqal. The charcoal has to be thoroughly burned previously and covered with ashes. (Afghan Food and Cookery, Helen Saberi) What a cozy atmosphere! A few items of cultural significance Saberi tells us that guests are given the honor of sitting at the head of the table (when there is a table …

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