Afghan Cuisine and Recipes

Afghan cuisine is largely based upon the nation’s chief crops; cereals like wheat, maize, barley and rice. Accompanying these staples are dairy products (yoghurt and whey), various nuts, and native vegetables, as well as fresh and dried fruits; Afghanistan is well known for its grapes. Afghanistan’s culinary specialties reflect its ethnic and geographic diversity. Though it has similarities with neighbouring countries, Afghan cuisine is undeniably unique.

Afghan Cuisine

Afghan cuisine is largely based upon the nation’s chief crops; cereals like wheat, maize, barley and rice. Accompanying these staples are dairy products (yoghurt and whey), various nuts, and native vegetables, as well as fresh and dried fruits; Afghanistan is well known for its grapes.

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Afghan Kufta

Getting to eat Afghan Kufta is like embarking upon a gastronomic adventure like none other. In the simplest form, kufta consist of balls of minced or ground meat — usually beef or lamb — mixed with spices and/or onions.

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Afghani Mantu – Beef Dumplings

Mantu are Afghani meat dumplings, usually served with a tomato based vegetable sauce and yoghurt-based white sauce.

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Aush – Noodle Soup with Beef and Yoghurt

Aush is a soup of Afghan origin and made with noodles along with an assortment of vegetables in a rich tomato based broth. It is usually topped with sour cream and dried mint leaves. The aush can be rightly called the Afghani form of minestrone soup. Kidney beans and chick peas are often added to it in order to make it heavier. Aush is usually enjoyed in the winter or autumn season when the temperature dips considerably.

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Aushak – Afghani Spring Onion Dumplings

Aushak is an Afghan dish made of pasta dumplings filled with spring onion, with a meaty tomato sauce, topped with yoghurt and dried mint. A time-consuming meal to prepare, it is usually served on holidays or at special gatherings.

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Banjan Borani – Eggplant with Tomato and Yoghurt

The tangy, garlic-laced yoghurt contrasts nicely with the sweet tomato sauce and tender eggplant. It’s garnished with dried mint (don’t use fresh), which you can find in the spice section of a supermarket or in a Middle Eastern market.

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Bichak – Afghani Stuffed Savoury and Sweet Pastries

Bichak is a stuffed baked tricornered appetiser served in Jewish (Kosher), Afghan, Middle Eastern, and Moroccan cuisine. It is often served during tea or coffee hour. Bichak can be stuffed with pumpkin and jam for a sweet taste, or meat and cheese for a savoury addition to a lunch. Bichak are also popular because they can be prepared in large quantities.

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Bonjan Salat – Spicy Eggplant Salad

A traditional Afghan recipe for a classic salad of fried aubergine (eggplant) slices served in a lightly-spiced tomato sauce.

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Challow – Afghan White Rice

Challow is a traditional Afghan dish that consists of boiled rice that is mixed with a variety of seasonings and then baked. Challow can be served on its own or as a side dish.

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Chapli Kebab

Chapli kebab is a common dish in Pashtun cuisine and a popular meal in Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern parts of India.

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Chatni Gashneez – Afghan Coriander Chutney

Chatni Gashneez is a traditional Afghani Coriander Chutney made with walnuts and fresh coriander leaves – a perfect accompaniment for any grilled meat or served with kebabs or Afghan bread as a snack.

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Chopan Kabob – Lamb Kebob

Kebobs grilled over an open barbecue with fresh vegetables is always a hit, but try it with this Afghan style marinade of yoghurt, coriander, and garlic. The marinade is delicious over beef, as well.

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Doogh – Persian Yoghurt Drink

Yoghurt is not just for smoothies or frozen treats. In the Middle-East and Mediterranean, yoghurt is a staple in the diet. It is served as a side dish, appetiser, marinade and dessert. It is consumed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And, it is also used in drinks.

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Gosh Feel – Elephant Ear Dessert Pastries

These oval shaped cookies (in the shape of an ear) are deep-fried then sprinkled with icing sugar and pistachios.

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Halwaua-e-Aurd-e-Sujee – Afghani Semolina Dessert

Halwaua e Aurd Sujee is a sweet dish made from semolina, popular in North-West India, Pakistan and Afghanistan

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Kabuli Pulao – Afghani Chicken

Kabuli Palaw, Qabili Palaw or simply Palau is an Afghan rice dish consisting of steamed rice mixed with lentils, raisins, carrots and lamb, chicken, or beef. It is the most popular dish in Afghanistan, and is considered the national dish.

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Kadu Bouranee – Afghani Sweet Pumpkin

Traditionally, Kadu Bouranee is served as a part of the several side dishes served at a Dastarkhan (the traditional Afghan table spread). One is supposed to eat the pumpkin dish with Afghan bread (Nan-I-Afghan) or one of the many rice preparations.

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Kichari – Mung Bean and Rice

Kichari is a wonderful vegetarian protein-rich dish cooked in many households and in many different ways. The ginger, garlic, onions, lime, coriander and spices in this recipe help the beans to become more digestible and the turmeric adds the healing anti-inflammatory qualities. Kichari should be eaten fresh, it is not recommended as a left over.

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Maushawa – Afghan Pulse and Yoghurt Soup

This is the original version of Maushawa, cooked with meat qorma but another popular version is made using meatballs (Kofta). The meatball are prepared as for the kofta in kofta chalau, but are smaller (about 1 cm in diameter). The sauce remains the same too, except that the yoghurt should be omitted. Afghans like to serve this soup “hot”, but seasoning can be adjusted according to the taste.

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Nan-e Afghani – Afghan Bread

These small oval breads are baked in a tandoor, the stove of the region — sometimes buried in the ground as it is in India. The Afghan oven is above ground and is made of rounded bricks, which are heated. Nan are shaped and slapped and stuck on the hot bricks for fast baking.

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