Treasures from Afghanistan

Afghanistan is almost as multiethnic as India, so the country’s cuisine is extremely varied, says howler. The quality of rice is taken very seriously, says limster, who adds that there are several varieties, usually flavored with saffron or a range of herbs. Brian S says he “spent a month in Afghanistan just before the Russians invaded.” His restaurant memories are of “mud walls, blazing samovars full of tea, priceless carpets, people sitting on the floor eating,” and always a pilao, also spelled “palao” or even “pillow” in the United States. A pilao is like a biryani, a rice dish cooked with, perhaps, sweet meat, slightly candied carrots, and sultanas.

In addition to pilao, a dish not to miss is aushek, says Joan Kureczka. It resembles leek-filled ravioli in a lamb and tomato sauce, usually served with a second, garlic yogurt sauce. And try kaddo, a dish of sugar-roasted pumpkin served with the same two sauces that accompany the aushek. Mantwo, steamed wheat dumplings filled with mince, are great, continues Joan, before recommending pretty much anything with lamb or eggplant. “Some of the dishes may resemble Northern Indian, but more savory than spicy (the hot spices are served as sauces on the side),” she says. “Breads are thick flatbreads,” almost like focaccia.

Brian S adds that the bread in Afghanistan was “the best I’ve had in my life. Baked fresh every two hours, and the bakeries had runners who would bring it to the restaurant.”

Board Link: Afghani Cuisine

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