Wine Dine and Play: October 2013

Afghan Cuisine



Courtesy of mapsof.net







The Culinary Crossroads Of Central Asian History, Food, and Culture
By: Sean Overpeck (CFE)
“Enjoy an Afghan meal with full recipes below”
Yum


In 1971, a friend of mine named Robert Kamen spent some time traveling in Afghanistan and Kashmir. It was as he said the most beautiful land he had ever seen, with the friendliest people on this Earth. If it weren’t for the Russians or the Taliban, he would have built a house and lived there. In 1979 he wrote a book called “The Crossing’s” which was turned into a screenplay. The Crossings was about his time with the Afghan people and their culture. Today Robert is the owner of Kamen Estate Winery in Sonoma County, California and is a screenwriter with over 20 films to his credit including Taken (2008), The Fifth Element (1997)and The Karate Kid (1984).

Before September 11th, 2001, most people in America and Europe did not think a lot, or know a lot about Afghanistan, and even less about Afghan Cuisine. We remember watching on the news, reports of the Russian Invasion in 1979, and a few reports thereafter on the weapon supplies that were sent, and the number of Russian helicopters shot down by the missiles we provided. In the 1980’s I was a kid, so I didn’t watch the news and had never heard of Afghanistan until I watched the movies Red Dawn (1984),  The Living Daylights (1987), Spies Like Us (1985), and Rambo III (1988). Since 2001, the media has mainly covered the war, and more films have been released such as Charlie Wilson's War (2007), Zero Dark Thirty (2012),  and Lone Survivor (2014). The films and news reports tell few stories when it comes to the culture or the food. Besides its rich history and vast mineral wealth, Afghanistan produces some of the most sought-after culinary items in all of central Asia. Thanks to the varied climate regions, it produces a wealth of fruits and vegetables, which are the basis of the Afghan diet.  

Before the Russian invasion in 1979, Afghanistan was a thriving, peaceful community, open to new technologies and idea’s, where women walked freely down the street of the capital city of Kabul without the full burqa - chadri covers, and people lived in peace. After the Russian’s came, the warlords and the Islamic radical extremists arrived, followed by the Taliban. So for over thirty years, Afghanistan entered into a downward spiral that put them back nearly to a stone age. Since the US-led invasion in 2001, Afghanistan has slowly been coming back, but still has a long way to go before it reaches the zenith of where it was before 1979. 


Chadri
Before the Taliban took power in Afghanistan, the chadri was infrequently worn in cities. 
While they were in power, the Taliban required the wearing of a chadri in public. 
Officially, it is not required under the present 
Afghan regime, but local warlords still enforce it in southern Afghanistan.

Taliban beating women

How land, history, politics, war, and climate affect the food culture:



Courtesy of ticklethewire.com
Food, glorious food…Afghanistan is a landlocked country roughly the size of France, sharing its borders with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north, China to the northeast, Pakistan to the east and south and Iran to the west. The official languages are Pashtu and Dari Persian. Some English, French, and German are also spoken. Outside Kabul, Afghanistan is still very much a tribal society. Religion and traditional customs since the 1980’s have had a strong influence within the family, and there are strict male and female roles in society. The overwhelming majority of Afghanistan's people are Muslim, around 99%. About 80% are Sunni, and 19% Shia. The final 1% includes about 20,000 Baha'is, 3,000-5,000 Christians, and one remaining Bukharan Jewish man, Zablon Simintov.



The basics:
Capital: Kabul




Kabul, 1972 - Before the Taliban and the Russians:

Courtesy of heritage-images.com
Courtesy of bsnews.com
Kabul, 2012 - After the Taliban and during reconstruction:




 


Kabul was designed to be a city made for 300,000. When the Russian's invaded and began destroying villages in the mountains and valleys, the people moved into Kabul for safety. When the war ended, they stayed. Today in 2013, the population of Kabul is over 6 million and still is only designed for 300,000. Mass poverty, crime, terrorism, and Government corruption have turned a once beautiful city into a slum.


Statistics:

Currency: Afghan Afghani (AFN)
Country population 2009: 33,609.000
2012 Population: 29,820,000
5 + Million dead or displaced from war, political corruption, and starvation in 3 years
Government: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان
(Persian: Jomhūrī-ye Eslāmī-ye Afġānistān)
د افغانستان اسلامي جمهوریت
(Pashto: De Afγānistān Islāmi J̌amhuriyat)
President: Hamid Karzai (until 2014)
Official languages: Pashto, and Farsi
Topography: Hindu-Kusch Mountains
Tirich Mir 7,708 m (25,289 ft.)













Currency Information:


Amounts:
1.00
Country Currency:
Afghan Currency Conversion:
؋
$1.00
United States Dollar (USD)
66.75
$1.00
Australian Dollar (AUS)
50.93
£1.00
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
83.73
$1.00
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
50.10
¥ 1
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
9.68
€1.00
European Union (EUR)
71.12
Afghan currency, picture courtesy of flyafghanistan.us
















GDP (PPP)
2008 estimate
$21.340 billion
Inflation 13.8%


How the Climate affects food in Afghanistan:

Afghanistan is a land of contrasts - vast areas of scorching parched deserts, large areas of high, cold and inaccessible mountains and extensive green plains and valleys, some of which are sub-tropical. Generally, the summers are dry and very hot and the winters very cold with heavy snowfalls especially in the mountains. It is this snow which provides the much-needed water for irrigation in the late spring and summer. The plains and valleys are very fertile so long as there is water, and a wide variety of crops can be cultivated; it is these crops which determine the everyday diet of Afghans. This varied climate allows for an abundance of crops throughout the seasons. Fresh yogurt, coriander, garlic, onions, spring onion, tomatoes, potatoes, and fruit are widely available in all parts of Afghanistan and are used in preparing foods. Traditional Afghani cooking is high in fat due to the country’s mountain terrain and the fact that the lifestyle involves a lot of walking along with the cold winters.
Graph courtesy of southtravels.com
Summer in Kunduz, with snow year round
Winter on a FOB in Logar Provence
Dirt Devil tornado in Pul-e-Alam, Logar Province


Fresh Fruit and vegetable Agricultural Production:












Afghan cuisine is largely based upon the nation's chief crops, such as wheat, maize, barley, and rice. Followed by dairy products (yogurt and whey), various nuts, and native vegetables, as well as fresh and dried fruits. Afghanistan produces a variety of fruits, notably grapes, pomegranates, apricots, berries, and plums. These fruits have traditionally been the country’s main food exports. They export fruits and vegetables to almost 41 countries in the world, before 2001 during the Taliban rule, exporting agricultural products was at only nine countries. Afghan dry and fresh fruit exports have hugely increased after taking part in international agricultural fairs; however, lack of standard refrigeration is the main problem in preserving agricultural products and saving them from getting spoiled before being exported to other countries. In 2011 around 1,200 tons of dry fruits, 8,200 tons of fresh fruits, 6,100 tons of vegetables and 100 tons of medicinal plants were exported to foreign countries. Afghan food is also Halal and therefore must follow in accordance with strict Islamic dietary laws.












A variety of oranges, known locally as "malta" are grown in the warm climate of Nangarhar province. Wardak Province is well known for its apples and apricots, as is Kandahar for its fabled pomegranates. Herbs and spices used in Afghan cuisine include mint, saffron, coriander, cilantro, cardamom, and black pepper. Lamb and chicken are the preferred meats, but due to being landlocked with little water and no major river sources except the Amu Darya River, fish and other seafood options are hard to come by and are considered delicacies. Afghan cuisine emphasizes well-balanced, contrasting tastes thus the food is neither spicy nor bland.

Fresh meat hanging from a storefront, Kabul


Pashtun cuisine (پښتنو خوراك), who are predominant in Afghanistan and western Pakistan is similar to overall Afghan cuisine and Pakistani cuisine. Cities such as Peshawar, Jalalabad, Kabul, Quetta, and Kandahar are known for being the centers of Pashtun cuisine.




A brief history of how Modern cuisine came to be in Afghanistan:

“An Army marches on its Stomach” - Napoleon Bonaparte


Napoleon cartoon, courtesy of ptara.com

Afghanistan has a rich cultural heritage covering more than 5,000 years. Afghanistan lies across ancient trade and invasion routes from Central Asia into India. This position has been the greatest influence on its history, and how the modern Afghan diet came into play. As a result of being at the crossroads of Asia, Afghani cuisine is thus mainly influenced by those who invaded and settled in the land over time.  Persia, India, and Mongolia, were the three main superpowers that greatly affected the area after the Macedonian invasion led by Alexander the Great. From 2000 to 1500 B.C. the Aryans were in Afghanistan and it is in this period that the Rig Veda or the basis of Indian Philosophy was established in the Himalayan Ranges. The City of Kabul is thought to have been established during this time. Spices from India like Garam masala and curry were introduced into the basic diet to enhance food flavors. 
Depiction of Alexander the Great, courtesy of paulchong.net
Alexander the Great of Macedonia and Greece invaded Afghanistan in 328 B.C., after defeating and conquering Persia. He founded a Hellenistic Empire with its capital at Bactria (Balkh) but failed to really subdue its people. During this time, the main trade routes from Persia into China and to India were through the city of Herat; originally known by the name of Haraiva. 
 
Map courtesy of bible-history.com

Alexander the Great saw the potential Herat had for trade, and built a fortress in the city known today as The Citadel (Qala-i-Ikhtiyar-ud-din):

The Citadel of Herat originally built by Alexander the Great;
 it was attacked repeatedly by conquerors like Genghis Khan, the Seljuks, 
the Ghorids, the Mongols, the Timurids, and the Safavids. 
Malik Fakhruddin rebuilt the modern structure pictured above in 1305 A.D.


The roads from Herat to Iran, Turkmenistan, Mazari Sharif and Kandahar were important strategically since ancient time as well as to today. Yogurt (maust) forms an integral part of Afghani cuisine and is called Chakah after it is drained.  Yogurt fed and helped Alexander’s men maintain their strength as they march towards India. The concepts of this cuisine were brought back to Europe by the Macedonian’s and today is the basis for salad dishes like Tarator, a Bulgarian Cold Cucumber Salad, infused with fresh garlic and the main base, yogurt. This dish is also very popular throughout all Balkan Countries.
Sabse Borani (Eastern Europe: Tarator)
Alexander the Great while marching to India founded the city of Kandahar in 330 BC where he named it Alexandria. Kandahar was an important trade route in Southern and Central Asia. The pomegranate ˈpɒmɨɡrænɨt, (Punica granatum), is widely considered to have originated in the vicinity of Kandahar, and Eastern Iran, and has been cultivated since ancient times. This was also brought back to Europe, where production in Spain thrived under the Roman empire many years later.
Chicken simmering in yogurt (Mourgh)
The Greeks were displaced around 150 B.C. by the Kushans and later the Parthians, (nomadic Iranians). The Parthians ruled parts of Western Afghanistan until about 300 A.D. During this time saffron and subzi from Persia were introduced into Afghan cuisine. Saffron has become so popular in Afghanistan that forty years ago, Iran offered Afghan farmers a special cultivation germ to double their production. When the farmers introduced it, their saffron crop was killed, destroying over 60% of all Afghan saffron. This was done of course, because Iran supplies 90-96% of the world’s saffron today, and they didn’t want competition.
http://afghansaffron.com/
A spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, Saffron, long among the world's most costly spices by weight, originating in Crete. Irannow accounts for approximately 90% of the world production of saffron, followed by Kashmir, and Afghanistan. During his Asian campaigns, Alexander the Great used Persian saffron in his infusions, rice, and baths as a curative for battle wounds. Alexander's troops imitated the practice from the Persians and brought saffron-bathing to Greece. To glean 1 lb. (450 g) of dry saffron requires the harvest of 50,000–75,000 flowers; a kilogram requires 110,000–170,000 flowers. Forty hours of labor are needed to pick 150,000 flowers.

Kidney beans
Lemons and Afghan peppers














These items had been traded in the past, but never put into full cultivation until this time. Today, Iran, Afghanistan, and Kashmir are the three main areas for saffron growth and production. It is still the most expensive spice to purchase on the open market. In 50 A.D., King Kanishka of India established his rule and introduced Buddhism in the land. In 400 A.D. the White Huns invaded and destroyed the Buddhist culture leaving most of the country in ruins. After the Invasion, Most Afghans still remained Hindu, and to put their stamp on history, by building magnificent structures like the Buddha’s of Bamiwam in the early 6th century. The monumental statues of standing Buddha were carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamiwam valley in the Hazarajat region of central Afghanistan, 230 km (140 mi) northwest of Kabul at an altitude of 2,500 meters (8,202 ft.). Built-in 507 AD, and 554 AD, the statues represented the classic blended style of Gandhara art. Bamiwam was also a major trading center, and stopover from Herat before traders would continue onto Kunduz or Kabul. The land around Bamiwam is very rich agriculturally and produces large amounts of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, chilies, leeks, coriander, parsley, mint, black pepper, onion and tomato which are also important in Afghani cooking. The Statues were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 by the Taliban, on orders from leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, after the Taliban government declared that they were pagan idols. 

Bamiwam
Taliban destroying the statues, 2001
In 642 A.D., the Arab invasion of Arabia introduced Islam into the Hindu culture. This invasion introduced a large abundance of nuts and seeds, such as walnuts, pistachios, almonds, peanuts, and pine nuts, which today are very plentiful throughout Afghanistan.  
Courtesy of historyofjihad.org
In the 800’s A.D., the Chinese helped to introduce vast irrigation systems, moving water from the snow-rich Hindu Kusch mountains down into the lower valleys, which made Afghanistan one of the most fertile areas for producing crops in all of central Asia. They also introduced in large abundance, the main crop is grown in Afghanistan to this day, rice. Qabili Palau (traditional rice dish) is the flagship dish of Afghan cuisine, and before the Chinese, it was a rare farmed item. Rice, like saffron, had been available since Alexander, and it grew vastly throughout Babylonia. 
Qabili Palau
In 1220, Mongol warriors under Genghis Khan conquered Afghanistan, destroying its great irrigation systems, which turned fertile soil into deserts. The Mongols introduced noodles and pasta into the Afghan diet, as well as a larger introduction of meats since the Mongols thrived on mutton. Like the Macedonians before them, the Mongolian nomads developed a number of unique dairy concepts from the Afghan’s known in Mongolia today as “white food” (tsagaan idee), which includes different types of yoghurt (tarag, aarts), cottage cheese (byaslag), dried curds (aarul), and fermented mare’s milk (airag).
Descendants of the Mongols would rule much of the region until 1736 when Nadir Shah (head of Persia) occupied Afghanistan. In 1747 Nadir Shah is assassinated, and the Afghans rose once again to establish modern Afghanistan.  By this time, the culinary culture was set, and very little changes or modifications to the diet were changed, even though many more invasions would come.
Genghis Khan Empire 1207-1227

The nineteenth century witnessed increasing Russian and British competition for influence in Central Asia, in "The Great Game." Britain fought two wars with the Afghans, in 1839-1842 and 1878-1880. The British were routed in the first Anglo-Afghan War but took control of Afghanistan's foreign relations after the second. Afghanistan was neutral in World War I, but in 1919 Afghanistan attacked India, prompting the British to relinquish control over Afghan foreign affairs. In 1934 the United States of America formally recognized Afghanistan after Mohammad Zahir Shah, took the throne in 1933 and reigned peacefully until 1973 when he was ousted in a coup by his cousin Sardar Daoud, who himself was ousted in turn in 1978 by the Soviet-backed PDPA, which instituted a Marxist rule. The Soviets took advantage of the political instability to invade in 1979; they would remain for 10 years. Warlords under the Mujahedeen ruled from 1989 until the extremist Sharia Taliban took power in 1996. The Taliban regime was ousted by U.S.-led forces in 2001 for its support of Osama bin Laden.
"The Great Game" courtesy of phillip-lee.com


King Mohammad Zahir Shah


PDPA Communists


Russian attack on Afghan village courtesy of NY Times

Taliban Justice - hanging an innocent 
man courtesy of rawa.org
The asshole - may he rot in hell
Although Afghanistan is very rich with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables from grapes, to melons and pomegranates, still the most valuable export is opium, to which over 80% is used for the production of the world’s heroin supply.

Russian tanks and helicopters left in a field in
Kunduz after 1989 withdraw. Still there in 2013



Materials needed in Afghani Cooking:

Deg – This is a traditional pot to cook rice which employs a sort of a baking process.  The deg comes with a gafeer which is like a flat ladle.
The tandour – the beehive oven from Iran and India is used for bread making.



YouTube Video
 - How to make Afghan Naan Bread in a Tandoor
https://youtu.be/3woxT94aK8o




National drinks:
The most common drink is tea (chai), followed by Dugh (yogurt flavored with rose water and salt)
Similar to Pepsi, made in Herat


Main Afghan dishes:


Bread: Usually, Afghans consume three types of bread.
Naan - is made of wheat and is thin, long and oval shaped.
Obi Naan - is shaped like a disk and is thicker than naan
Lavash - is very thin bread and used as plating for meats and stews.

 



Rice dishes:
Chowal:  rice;
Palao: rice cooked with meat
Qabili Palau: (traditional rice dish) is the flagship dish of Afghan cuisine.

Meats:
Qorma is a stew or casserole, usually served with chalow.
Kebab is most often found in restaurants and outdoor vendor stalls. The most widely used meat is lamb.
Kufta (meatball)
Kalah Pacha (lamb or beef head/feet cooked in a broth served in bowls as a soup dish or in a stew or curry style)

Vegetables and salads:
Osh Pyozee (stuffed onion)
Salata (tomato and onion-based salad, often incorporating cucumber)
Torshi (eggplant and carrot mixed with other herbs and spices pickled in vinegar aged to perfection)

Starch, Soups, and Dairy:
Shorma (soup)
Pasta is called "khameerbob" in Afghanistan and is often in the shape of dumplings
Aush (handmade noodles)
Maast or labanyat (type of plain yogurt)
Quroot (or Qoroot) (Dari: قروت), also called Kashk (Iran) is a reconstituted Quroot product. Traditionally a by-product of butter made from sheep or goat milk.

Dessert:
Afghan Cake (similar to pound cake sometimes with real fruit or jelly inside)
Ferni (Custard of rich milk with sugar and pistachio)
Baklava (Filo dough with sugar, pistachio, and sweet syrup topping)
Mou-rubba (fruit sauce, sugar syrup, and fruits, apple, sour cherry, berries or dried fruits)

Breakfast:


Masala chai (spiced tea)
Fried eggs
Naan
Butterfat - or milk fat is the fatty portion of milk.
Melons (see below)

Melons:

“It is of the color of topaz, of musky odor, and in taste of the taste of honey; it has the hue of
brocade and it has fragrance as that of fresh aloe. When you cut it into slices, every one of
them present the appearance of the crescent: and if you do not cut it, in its entirety it is like the
full moon.”

- Poet at the court of Mahmud of Ghazni, 
Yamīn ad-Dawlah Abul-Qāṣim Maḥmūd Ibn Sebüktegīn 
(2 November 971 – 30 April 1030)



Melon types:

Sawzmaghz
As the name hints, it is a green melon, thirst-quenching and not unduly sweet
Sawzmaghz-e khadai
A sub-variety of the previous one, extremely elongated and sweet
Zormati
A bright yellow melon from Kunduz, of a medium round size and imparting
the remarkable scent of flowers to the palate
Qashoqi
A big, pale yellow variety from Balkh, characterized by the softness of its pulp, literally to be eaten with a spoon
Kandak
A small melon grown on lalmi (rainfed) hillsides in Baghlan, it ripens early and is very juicy.
Kandak-e Deh Wairan
A similar variety grown in the namesake hamlet of Kunduz province
Arkani
Also called qoter, originating from both Balkh area and Qataghan, its skin, incredibly thick and resistant, allows for it to be stored for winter or transported easily.


The number of varieties of melon in Afghanistan is estimated at 38. Yellow melons, generically termed zerahati ‘agricultural’ are massively produced almost everywhere, as they require less effort and give better yields, and are consumed by less affluent sectors of the population. It is not a secret that the best of the Qataghani production is conveyed to the Kabul or Herat markets.
Melon Fly courtesy of chemtica.com
Since 2006, the Baluchistan Melon Fly (Myiopardalis Pardalina) has spread into northern Afghanistan from across the border with Uzbekistan. Its despicable habit of attacking melons and spoiling them from the inside, this bug has caused huge economic losses to the cultivators

Afghani Entertaining and social customs involving food:

In the upper classes, hospitality is sacred to the Afghan code of honor. It is a privilege and an honor to serve the best possible food to guests.  The meal is the best for guests even if other members of the family have to go without. A guest is always given a seat or the place of honor at the head of the room. Tea or Chai with cardamom or Green tea is served first to the guest to quench his thirst. While he is drinking and chatting with his host, all the women and girls of the household are involved in the preparation of food.  
Courtesy of defence.gov.au
The traditional mode of eating in Afghanistan is on the floor. Everyone sits around on large cushions, called toshak. These cushions are normally placed on carpets. A large cloth or thin mat called a disterkhan is spread over the floor or carpet before the dishes of food are brought. In summer, food is often served outside in the cooler night air or under a shady tree during the day. 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.  Under the table is a charcoal brazier called a manqal. The charcoal has to be thoroughly burned previously and covered with ashes. Food is usually shared communally; three or four people will share one large platter of rice and individual side dishes of stew (qorma), or vegetables. Homemade chutneys, pickles, as well as fresh naan usually accompany the food.

The traditional way of eating is with the right hand, and with no cutlery. Never use your left hand to grab or eat the food, since the left hand is used only for cleaning your backside. Spoons may be used for puddings and teaspoons for tea. There is a hand washing ceremony before meals and for this, a special bowl and jug called a haftawa-wa-lagan are used. A young boy or girl member of the family brings this to the guest and pours the water over his hands for him, the bowl being used to catch the water.



Preparing a traditional Afghan meal:




Most American’s have never tried Afghan food before. America is vast with a rich melting pot of world cuisine, but beyond maybe one restaurant in a major city, to get authentic Afghan food in plenty, you have to visit Northern California around the Bay Area, where a large number of Afghan’s came after the Russian invasion in 1979. Fremont, California has an area known as Little Kabul, home to dozens of Afghan restaurants, including De Afghanan Kabob House, considered to be the best Afghan restaurant in the country. Also in Fremont is the Maiwand Market, known for selling Afghan pieces of bread, meats, and other ingredients to help recreate the cuisine at home.

I am an American from the southern United States and have been working in Afghanistan for almost five years. Before coming, I never thought I would ever make local-centric cuisine. For me, it was comfort foods like gumbo, shrimp and grits, and pot roast. The U.S. Military introduced Afghan food as part of its main menu for soldiers in 2010, serving it two times per week. The recipes offered were butchered from the originality of the cuisine itself. The vegetables were shipped in from outside the country, and a lot of the spices needed to prepare the food properly like saffron, mint, coriander, dried chilies were not available through the main supplier. We were also not allowed to purchase from the local economy where the spices and fresh fruits were plentiful.  Within a short period of time, this method of introducing Afghan food to American’s was not enjoyed by many troops, since the cooks, most of whom were from India, added heavy amounts of spices and curries to the meats, making them Indian cuisine dishes instead of Afghan.

When I switch from working with the DOD to the DOS, I had the opportunity to prepare many food items without the restrictions placed upon me by the DOD’s CONOPS menu and TM-412 recipe card database. I took full advantage of this and prepared with the help of Afghan and Indian cooks, a true and authentic Afghan meal using locally sourced herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Some soldiers that heard about the meal had turned their noses up since they expected it to be the same as what was served at the FOB’s, but after the meal, all of them had a new perspective on what Afghan food was really about. The Meal was fantastic, and even received compliments from the Afghan workers. Here is how to prepare an Afghan meal….

How to start your meal…Supplies

Picture of the "Bush Market" Kabul, named after President George W. Bush Courtesy of NPR.org
In America and Europe, we go to large grocery stores to get what we need, and some of us go to local farmers markets to get fresh organic produce. In Afghanistan, all fruits and vegetables are organic, no certification is needed. The Afghan’s buy everything they need from these markets. The whole carcass of a lamb, chicken or cows, melons, nuts, vegetables, spices, whatever you need. These markets also sell clothes, computers, cell phones, and items that were going to military bases to be given to soldiers, used in the DFAC’s for cooking, or sold by the PX. These items are known as “items that fell off the truck!” aka they were stolen from hijacked trucks bringing the good into the country from Pakistan, and then sold by the thieves to local merchants. Or they are also known as “trashed can items” which means, while on a military base, a local worker took some boxes to the trash can that were not empty, and threw them in the can. His brother works for the trash collection group that empty’s the large containers and drives it off base to a landfill. Once off the base, the driver removes the food or other stolen items and sells them. (See picture below of "trashed items" In Kabul, the largest suck market is called the Bush Market, named after President George W. Bush after 2001. Before the invasion, the market was called the Brezhnev Market after the Soviet leader during the Russian-Afghan War. Today it has thousands of stalls where merchants sell everything, to include wonderful market produce items. As the troops begin their withdrawal, however, the markets will suffer and merchants will go out of business since there will be fewer items to steal, once the Americans are gone.

Stolen items on FOB's, put in trash, to be sold on open market

In Herat, the third largest city, and by far the cleanest and most modern city in Afghanistan, the market to get the best fresh fruits and vegetables is called the Darwaze Qandahar Market. Herat is also the site of some of the world’s most spectacular medieval Islamic architecture. The city was surrounded by a wall with alexander’s citadel in the center. The south gate was a trade route which led to Kandahar and India was called the Darwaze Qandahar, which translates Gate to Kandahar.  Besides the Citadel, the two most beautiful sites are the Friday Mosque, which was originally built as a Buddhist Temple, then converted to a mosque after the Islamic invasion, and the Mousallah Complex which is a collection of minarets, a mosque, and a medressa, built by the queen Gaur Shad in 1411. She was the daughter of famous ruler Timur. Close to the complex, there is a large domed tomb of Gowhar Shah. There were total 12 minarets in this complex. 9 of them are destroyed but still three remains. The Mousallah Complex has been described as the most beautiful example in color and architecture ever devised by man to the glory of his God. Nearby is also a mausoleum of the 15th-century Persian poet, Nur-ud-din Abdurrakhman Jami, who died in 1492. Jami was the greatest of the 15th century's poets and a titan during a period characterized by supreme literary brilliance.

Children playing, outside Herat
Friday Mosque, Herat
Now, we have our main locally produced items purchased from the markets, consisting of melon, tomatoes, onions, red and green chilies, lemons, spinach, chickpeas, pistachio’s, Herat saffron, coriander, mint, raisins, carrots, flour, and yogurt. There are many more ingredients, but these are the basis for most Afghan dishes.



MENU


Naan bread
Sabse Borani
Qabili Pilau
Kofta Nakhod (Meatballs w/ chick-Peas)
Mourgh (chicken)
Cauliflower Nakhud in Korma Sauce
Brides Fingers (Asabia el Aroos) a.k.a Baklava

The Cooks
Preparing zucchini (marrow) for a lunch meal
Making the dessert
Showing off their hard work

FOB Shank 2011, military awards cooking crew

Beverage and Conversation:
The Tea, known as Chai, it is purchased locally by the KG or pound. You can also purchase tea bags that have been imported from Arabia and Pakistan. As the meal is prepared by the women in the household or the cooks at local restaurants, the males of the household and any invited guests will talk and drink the tea. They will be served by the young males of the household, to teach them the importance of entertaining guests.After the tea, yet still, before the meal is enjoying the hookah water pipe as I did, filled with apple, mint, and orange scents.
http://winedineandplay.blogspot.com/2013/10/isteqlal-restaurant.html
smoking the hookah
A local band play music at the United States Consulate


First Course:
Naan
Bread is essential to the diet and daily meals in Afghanistan. 
(Scroll up to see the pictures and video of the bread making process). 
The bread can be enjoyed at the beginning of the meal as a starter, during the salad, 
or the entrée courses.

Yum



Naan
Sean Overpeck (CFE)

Nutrition Information per serving
Serving Size
1 piece
Calories
150 kcal
Total Fat
4.5 g
Carbohydrates
24 g
Protein
4 g

Serves: 10                     Prep times:  1 HR 30 MIN                Cook time:  6-8 minutes

Ingredients:                    Imperial Measurement:                       Metric:
whole wheat flour
5 ¼ cups = 3 ¾ lb.
1.355 liters
Salt
4 tsp.
20 grams
Self-rising yeast
5/8 ounce = 1 packet
16 grams
Warm Water (110of)
5 cups
1.237 liters

Tools and Equipment:
Measuring cups and Spoons
White Cutting Board
Bread knife
Sifter
Convection or regular Oven
Tandour or stone oven
Mixing Bowls
Thermometer
Damp cloth
Baking sheet tray
Aluminum foil


Notes and Prep:
1. Sift the flour
2. If using a normal oven, then line a baking tray with aluminum foil and place in the oven to get hot.

Method:
Fire up the Tandour oven to 500of (260oC), or Preheat convection oven to 500of (260oC).

Tandour Oven
1. In a bowl, mix the salt and flour together after being sifted.
2. Add the yeast packet
3. Gradually add the warm water and mix with your hands to form a smooth, round, soft dough.
4. Knead for 7 to 10 minutes until dough is elastic and smooth.
5. Roll dough into several round balls, cover with a damp cloth and let rest in a warm spot until dough has doubled in size. Roughly 1 hour
6. Once the dough has risen, divided into about 4 equal portions; on a lightly floured surface, shape or roll the dough out into an oval 1/2 inch thick
7. Wet your hands and use your fingertips to make deep grooves down the center of each oval; or use a comb to dot the holes on the surface
8. Remove the hot tray from the oven and place the prepared oval dough on it and bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes (the bread should be fairly crisp on the outside
9. Repeat with remaining dough.
10. If you’re using a Tandoor or stone oven, slap each piece onto the outer wall, and cook for 5-7 minutes until golden brown, then use long tongs to pull out
11. Wrap each piece with a clean tea towel or tin foil to prevent them from drying out.
12. Leave whole, or cut using a bread knife on a white cutting board


Now that wasn’t too harmful, was it?


Second course:

Salad, oh how I love salad. There are several salads in Afghan cuisine. The main one is called Salata. This salad includes diced tomatoes and onion with cucumber, shredded red cabbage, and white cabbage, all mixed together. See the picture below.

Salata
For this menu, we shall make Sabse Borani. The main base for this dish is yogurt, an intricate part of the Afghan diet.  The salad includes minced garlic, spinach, and onion. It is wonderful for dipping you Naan bread that you just made.

Yum


Sabse Borani
Sean Overpeck (CFE)

Nutrition Information per serving
Serving Size
3 ounce
Calories
95.7 kcal
Total Fat
 4.4 g
Carbohydrates
11.5 g
Protein
4.6 g

Serves: 10                       Prep times:  30 MIN                       Cook time:  15 MIN

Ingredients:                   Imperial Measurement:                          Metric:
Spinach leaves
2 cups = 4 bundles
½ kg (.45 kg)
Onion, white or purple
1

Garlic cloves
3

Vegetable or canola oil
2 tbsp.
30 ml.
Yoghurt, Herat Dairy brand
2 cups
½ lt.
Salt and black pepper
To taste
1-3 ml.


Tools and Equipment:
Measuring cups and Spoons
Stirring Spoon, preferably stainless steel, not wood
Chef knife
Green Cutting Board
Fry Pan
Gas or Electric Range
Wire whip/whisk
Stovetop Pot
Strainer
Mixing Bowls

Notes & Prep:
1. Wash the spinach and onion in a three sanitation system of wash, sanitize in 5 ppm bleach solution, and rinse water to properly clean any contaminants.
(5 ppm bleach solution = 1/8 tsp. per 5 gal. water or metric = 1 milliliter [ML] per 5 lt. of water)
2. The following three steps below require the use of a green cutting board:
A. Remove the stem then chop the spinach finely.
B. Peel the onion skin and discard. Slice the onion, and then cut in half for a crescent shape.
C. Peel the skin from the garlic and cloves, crush with the flat portion of your chef knife, then mince the cloves of garlic.

Method:
Turn on Electric or Gas Range to medium-high heat

1. Place damp spinach in a saucepan, cover and cook until wilted, roughly 5-7 minutes.
2. Remove the pot from the stove, then drain and squeeze to remove excess water in a colander. 3. Heat oil in a large skillet, or fry pan and sauté the onion at low heat until golden and translucent, roughly 6 minutes.
4. Add the minced garlic and sauté briefly, then add the spinach back in, and cook for a minute or two more.
3. Remove from the heat, and let the mixture cool in a refrigerator.
4. In a bowl, and the yogurt and the spinach mixture, mixing to incorporate.
5. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and chill until ready to serve
7. Serve as a starter or salad course, and dip with Naan bread


What to Drink with this?  
                
2011 Veuve Clicquot, Yellow Label, Brut, Champagne, Reims, France
Herbal black Tea
On the other hand, be boring and drink water


Third Course:

Qabili Pilau is the flagship dish of Afghan cuisine. This dish is a combination of basmati rice with lamb, saffron, and vegetables.

Qabili Pilau
Lamb and Yellow rice with carrots and
Raisins

Yum

Sean Overpeck (CFE)

Nutrition Information per serving
Serving Size
3 oz. (1/3 cup) or 100 g
Calories
305.5 kcal
Total Fat
8.3 g
Carbohydrates
54.8 g
Protein
4.5 g

Serves: 10                    Prep times:  45 MIN                 Cook time:  3 HR 45 MIN

Ingredients:             Imperial Measurement:                      Metric:
Lamb, boneless shoulder
3 lb.
1 ½ kg.
Canola oil
3 tbsp.
44 ml.
Water
2 cups
0.45 L.
Unsalted butter
4 oz. or ½ cup
118 g.
Carrots, large
4

Black seedless raisins
2 cups
0.45 kg.
Onions, medium
2

Bell peppers (green, red, yellow)
3 (1 of each color)

Basmati rice
2 ½ cups
593 g (.65 kg)
Water
4 cups
1 L.
Cumin
3 tbsp.
44 g
Salt
1 tsp.
5 g
Black pepper
2 tsp.
10 g
Cinnamon powder or stick
3 tbsp., or 2 inch-stick
44 g
Herat Saffron threads       
Dash = ½ tsp. – 1 tsp.         
3-5 g
Brown sugar
½ cup
118 g

Tools and Equipment:
Measuring cups and Spoons
Stirring Spoon, preferably stainless steel, not wood
Chef knife
Red cutting board
Green Cutting Board
Fry Pan
Gas or Electric Range
Wire whip/whisk
Stovetop Pot
Peeler/grater
Mandolin
Mixing Bowls

Notes and Prep:
1. Wash the carrots, onion, and the tri-colored bell peppers in a three sanitation system of wash, sanitize in 5 ppm bleach solution and rinse water to properly clean any contaminants.
(5 ppm bleach solution = 1/8 tsp. per 5 gal. water or metric = 1 milliliter [ML] per 5 lt. of water)
2. Thaw the boneless lamb shoulder, and on red cutting board cut into 1 ½ inch cubes.
3. Use a green cutting board for all of the vegetable preparation listed below:
A. Cut off the ends, and then peel the outer skin from the carrots. Using a mandolin, chef knife, or a grater and shred the carrots
B. Peel the skin from the onions, cut in half, and then slice
C. Cut the top from the pepper, remove seeds, clean, and then dice into ½ in cuts

Method:
Turn on Electric or Gas Range to medium-high heat

1. Place canola oil in a sauté pan, add the cut lamb, and turn the meat on all sides to sear.
2. Add the water to cover the lamb
3. Reduce the heat and simmer the lamb for 2 ½ to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, and adding more water if needed to braise the lamb.
4. Remove the lamb from the stove and pan, cool for several hours or overnight.
5. Shred the lamb into small pieces with your fingers or a knife.

The Rice:
1. Melt butter in large sauté pot.
2. Add the sliced onions, carrots, and raisins
3. Simmer until onions are translucent, about 4-6 minutes
4. Remove 1/3 of the mix and set aside as a garnish, (keep warm)
5. Add the diced bell peppers to the remaining vegetable sauté.
6. Add the shredded lamb and sauté all items for an additional 5 minutes.
7. Add the rice and flash fry for 3-4 minutes combining all items.
8. Reduce the heat to low, and then add the seasonings, and the water, and cover the pot with a lid. (Authentically, put a cloth over the rim of the pan before putting on the lid).


9. Stir the rice on occasion until water is incorporated 35-45 minutes and rice has reached 145oF, or (63oC).

Assembly:
1. Put the brown sugar into a small sauté or fry pan over low heat, and cook 5-8 minutes until the sugar melts down into a caramel texture.
2. Mix in the sautéed carrot, onion, and raisins that you removed from the pot in step four.
3. Place 3 ounces or a 1/3 cup serving of the rice onto a plate, then scoop a generous serving of the sweet vegetable mixture on top as a garnish for the rice.

What to Drink with this?                  
Tempranillo Graciano Rioja, "Crianza", Sierra Cantabria, 2008
Herbal Green Tea
On the other hand, be boring and drink water


Fourth course:
Kofta Nakhod (Meatballs w/ chick-Peas). Kofta is a very popular entrée item next to kebabs. The preparation takes time, but in the end, you will enjoy every bite. You can serve over the rice or prepare noodles.


Yum
Kofta Nakhod
Sean Overpeck (CFE)

Nutrition Information per serving
Serving Size
4 each
Calories
316.5 kcal
Total Fat
16.7 g
Carbohydrates
16.6 g
Protein
24.4 g

Chick-peas provide the bulk of well-seasoned Kofta, the name for various types of meatballs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Unlike customs in other countries, they are boiled in soup or water and served separately from the soup. Chick-peas are one of the forbidden foods for Passover in Afghanistan, so Nofta Nakhod must wait for another time.

Serves: 10                    Prep times:  45 MIN               Cook time:  1 HR 15 MIN

Ingredients:                              Imperial Measurement:                                Metric:
Dried chick-peas
5 cups
1237 g
Ground beef
10 lbs.
4.54 kg
Onions, white or red
3

Black Pepper
3 tbsp.
44 g
Salt
3 tbsp.
44 g
Ground cinnamon
2 tsp.
10 g
Fresh mint, or mint sauce
3 tbsp.
44 g
Fresh cilantro
1 bundle = ½ cup
1 bundle = 118 g
Afghan Green chilies
1

bread crumbs, matzoh meal, or plain flour
2 cups
473 g or ½ kg
Eggs, large
2

Unsalted butter
1 lb.
.45 kg
Chicken broth stock
10 cups
2 ½ liters
Dried chick-peas
2 cups
473 g or ½ kg
Cornstarch
½ cup
118 g

Tools and Equipment:
Measuring cups and Spoons
Stirring Spoon, preferably stainless steel, not wood
Chef knife
Green Cutting Board
Spatula
Gas or Electric Range
Wire whip/whisk
Stovetop Pot
Sheet Pans, baking pans
Convection or regular Oven
Mixing Bowls
Colander
Food processor

Notes and Prep:
1 day before you make the meal:
1. Place the 7 cups of chick-peas in a large bowl, cover with water, and seal with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and allow soaking 8-10 hours or overnight.
The day of the meal:
2. Wash the onion’s, mint, cilantro and Afghan chilies in a three sanitation system of wash, sanitize in 5 ppm bleach solution, and rinse water to properly clean any contaminants.
(5 ppm bleach solution = 1/8 tsp. per 5 gal. water or metric = 1 milliliter [ML] per 5 lt. of water)
3. Peel the skin from the 3 onions and mince on a green cutting board
4. On a green cutting board, mince the cilantro, Afghan green chilies, and mint

Method:
Preheat convection oven to 325°F (163oC)
If using a conventional oven, preheat to 375°F (191oC).
Turn on Electric or Gas Range to medium-high heat

1. Drain chick-peas in a colander, and then grind them rather fine in a processor or with your hand.
2. In a mixing bowl combine the beef, vegetables, cinnamon, salt, black pepper, eggs, bread crumbs, and 5 cups of the chick-peas
3. Roll the mixture into 2” diameter balls. Moisten your hands with water to help form the mold
4. There are two methods of preparation for the Kofta Nakhod. The first is to boil them in a large stock pot on the stove. The second method is to bake them in an oven.
5. OPTION ONE: On a stove top, with a large pot, melt the unsalted butter, and the 2 cups of chick-peas, followed by the stock. Bring to a boil and drop the meatballs into the boiling pot one at a time, & simmer over moderate heat for 45 minutes. Remember that chick-peas are ground but not cooked.
6. OPTION TWO: Place the meatballs on a baking sheet pan, and place into the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until temperature reaches 155°F (68oC).
7. Reminder; if you choose option two, then you must still create the stock with chick-peas from step five. Once the stock has come to a boil, reduce the heat, the added cornstarch with water mixture to thicken the mixture.

Assembly:

1. For option one, after the 45 minutes of boiling, remove the meatballs, and serve. For option two, remove the pans from the oven, scoop out the meatballs with a spatula onto a plate.
2. Top the chick-peas stock mixture over the meatballs and serve

What to Drink with this?                  
2010 Digger’s bluff, “Watchdog” Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz
Herbal green or black tea
On the other hand, be boring and drink water


Fifth Course:

Mourgh (chicken). Kebabs are the main source for chicken preparation because they are quick and filling. However, if you have time, then this is the dish to have. It takes three hours, but the mixture of flavors is hands down, one of the better Afghan dishes I’ve eaten.


Yum
Mourgh
Sean Overpeck (CFE)

Nutrition Information per serving
Serving Size
1 Piece
Calories
350 kcal
Total Fat
12.4 g
Carbohydrates
6.8 g
Protein
0 g

Serves: 10                         Prep times:  1 HR                    Cook time:  2 HR 15 MIN

  Ingredients:                       Imperial Measurement:                               Metric:
Whole Chicken
10 pieces

Cloves garlic
3

Salt to taste


Herat brand yoghurt
6 cups
1 ½ lt.
Lemon
1

Black pepper
3 tbsp.
44 g
Unsalted butter
2 pounds
1 kg (.90 kg)
Paprika
3 tsp.
44 g
Cumin
2 tbsp.
30 g
Curry powder
2 tsp.
10 g
Dash = ½ tsp. – 1 tsp.
3-5 g

Tools and Equipment:
Measuring cups and Spoons
Stirring Spoon, preferably stainless steel, not wood
Chef knife
Green Cutting Board
Yellow Cutting Board
Large stock pot or sauté pan
Gas or Electric Range
Char Grill
Grill Tongs
Boning knife
Wire whip/whisk

Notes & Prep:
1. Wash the Lemon in a three sanitation system of wash, sanitize in 5 ppm bleach solution, and rinse water to properly clean any contaminants.
(5 ppm bleach solution = 1/8 tsp. per 5 gal. water or metric = 1 milliliter [ML] per 5 lt. of water)
2. Wash the chicken to remove any blood or lose innards
3. Using a yellow cutting board and sharp chef or boning knife, cut the chicken in two, down the center of the back. Then take each piece cutting in half again. For smaller pieces, you may cut again, but you’re going to end up with more bone than useable meat.
4. The following preparation below requires the use of a green cutting board:
a. Cut the lemon in half, and then squeeze out the juice and pulp
b. Peel the skin from the garlic and cloves, crush with the flat portion of your chef knife, then mince the cloves of garlic.

Method:
Turn on Electric or Gas Range to medium-high heat

One day before serving:

1. Put the salt in a wide bowl with the garlic and mash them together until you have a paste.
2. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, and black pepper to incorporate, whisking thoroughly.
3. Add to the cut up chicken to the mixture and turn so all surfaces are well-coated.
4. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate. Allow to marinate at least overnight, or up to a day and a half.

Day of serving:

1. OPTION ONE: Melt the butter in a large sauté pan or stock pot, add the chicken mixture marinade and broil in the butter.
2. Add the cumin, curry powder, paprika, and saffron threads to the mix.
3. Reduce the heat, then let cook slowly for 1 ½ to 2 hours. The temperature of chicken must be above 165°F, (74oC).
Option 2:
1. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and cook on a char grill, 6 inches from the heat for 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until thoroughly done at 165°F, (74oC).
2. Melt the butter in a stockpot, add the yogurt marinade with the seasonings, and cook at a low simmer. Once the chicken has cooked on the char and it to the sauce in the pot, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes before serving.

Assembly:

1. Serve the chicken over a bed of basmati rice, and a side of Naan bread.

What to Drink with this?                  
Puligny-Montrachet Pucelles Premier Cru, 2010 Côte de Beaune, Joseph Droughin
Herbal Green Tea
On the other hand, be boring and drink water


Vegetable with your fifth course:

Cauliflower Nakhud in Korma Sauce. Cauliflower is a newly grown vegetable only forty years old in Afghanistan. Prior to this time, cauliflower was imported from Pakistan or China. Korma sauce is the most popular sauce in Afghanistan, purchased in jars at the markets, or made from scratch at the home. The base of the recipe is tomato, mint, and onions. Korma originated in India as a curry paste. 



Yum


Cauliflower Nakhud
 in Korma Sauce
Sean Overpeck (CFE)

Nutrition Information per serving
Serving Size
10
Calories
204 kcal
Total Fat
12 g
Carbohydrates
13 g
Protein
22 g

Serves: 10                  Prep times:  25 MIN                   Cook time:  1 HR 15 MIN

 Ingredients:                       Imperial Measurement:                              Metric:
yellow lentils or split peas  (Daul Nakhud)
¼ cup
59 g
Water
2 cups
½ L.
Unsalted butter
4 oz. (1/2 cup)
118 g
Onions, medium, yellow
4

Garlic cloves
6

Cauliflower, large      
1 ½

Tomato Sauce
1 can (12 oz.)
355 ml.
Salt
1 ½ tsp.
7 g
Black Pepper
2 tsp.
10 g
Coriander
3 tbsp.
44 g
Spinach
2 bundles (1 cup)
237 g
Paprika
1 tsp.
5 g
Cumin
3 tbsp.
44 g
Herat brand yoghurt
4 cups
1 L.
Bell peppers (green, red, yellow)
3 (1 of each color)


Tools and Equipment:
Measuring cups and Spoons
Stirring Spoon, preferably stainless steel, not wood
Chef knife
Green Cutting Board
Gas or Electric Range
Wire whip/whisk
Stock Pots
Strainer
Peeler/grater
Mixing Bowls

Notes and Prep:
1. Place ¼ cup of the yellow lentils or split peas in a large bowl, cover with water, and seal with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and allow soaking 8-10 hours or overnight
2. Wash the Cauliflower, onion, spinach, and the tri-colored bell peppers in a three sanitation system of wash, sanitize in 5 ppm bleach solution and rinse water to properly clean any contaminants.
(5 ppm bleach solution = 1/8 tsp. per 5 gal. water or metric = 1 milliliter [ML] per 5 lt. of water)
2. The following preparation below requires the use of a green cutting board:
a. Peel the skin from the onions, and dice
b. Peel the skin from the garlic and cloves, crush with the flat portion of your chef knife, then mince the cloves of garlic.
c. Cut the root from the cauliflower, the chop up the head into small-medium sized florets
d. Remove the stem then chop the spinach finely.
e. Cut the top from the pepper, remove seeds, clean, and then julienne

Method:
Turn on Electric or Gas Range to medium-high heat

1. Strain the yellow lentils or split peas in a colander
2. Melt the butter into a large saucepan, add onions and fry gently until transparent. Increase heat; add garlic and fry, stirring often
3. Add the Cauliflower, and continue to sauté
4. Add Tomato sauce, salt and pepper, coriander, and cumin. Bring to a slow simmer and reduce heat.
5. Add the yellow lentils or split peas (daul Nakhud), then cover the saucepan with a lid
6. Add the spinach, and paprika and cook for further 10-15 minutes.
7. Stir in the yogurt

Assembly:
1. Place serving of cauliflower onto a plate.
2. Garnish with Julienne bell peppers


What to Drink with this?                  
Pinot Gris, "Rosenberg", Albert Mann, Alsace, France, 2012
Herbal black Tea
On the other hand, be boring and drink water



Sixth and final course:
Dessert. If you have any room left, and not ready to explode, there are many dessert recipes to try. This recipe is an Eastern European favorite, that was brought to Afghanistan and modified over one hundred years ago. It is known as the Brides Fingers since it is a popular dessert eaten at the Afghan wedding halls. It is called Asabia el Aroos.

Yum


Brides Fingers
(Asabia el Aroos)
a.k.a Baklava
Sean Overpeck (CFE)

Nutrition Information per serving
Serving Size
3 oz.
Calories
305.6 kcal
Total Fat
20.6 g
Carbohydrates
24.9 g
Protein
7.3 g

Serves: 10                 Prep times:  2 HR 00 MIN                    Cook time:  15-20 MIN

Ingredients:                        Imperial Measurement:                             Metric:
Frozen filo dough, completely defrosted
½ package (16 oz.)
½ kg
Sweet Syrup:


White sugar
3 cups
710 g
Water
1½ cups
355 g
Lemon
1

Orange-blossom water, rosewater, or orange juice
1 tbsp.
15 ml
Filling:


Unsalted butter, (melted)
¼ cup or 4 oz.
59 ml
Pistachios
½ cup
118 g
White sugar
1/3 cup or 3 oz.
89 g
Glaze:


Egg, large, beaten
1

White sugar
2 tbsp.
30 g

Tools and Equipment:
Measuring cups and Spoons
Stirring Spoon, preferably stainless steel, not wood
Rubber Spatula
Sheet Pans, or baking pans
Convection or regular Oven
Mixing Bowls
Wire whisks, whips
Food Processor
Stovetop Pot
Pastry brush

Notes and Prep:
1. Wash the Lemon and orange in a three sanitation system of wash, sanitize in 5 ppm bleach solution, and rinse water to properly clean any contaminants.
(5 ppm bleach solution = 1/8 tsp. per 5 gal. water or metric = 1 milliliter [ML] per 5 lt. of water)
2. Defrost the Filo dough, roughly 1-1½ hours
3. Cut the lemon, and squeeze out the pulp, discard any seeds
4. Place pistachio nuts into a food processor, and pulverize until grounded
5. Melt the butter

Method:
Preheat convection oven to 325°F (163oC), if using a conventional oven, preheat to 375°F (191oC).
Turn on Electric or Gas Range to medium heat

Sweet syrup:
1. On a stove top boil the sugar with the water until dissolved and viscous, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the lemon and orange juices and remove from the heat. Transfer to a pan, and refrigerate.
4. Cut the filo into squares 3” by 3” cross. Dampened the dough to prevent drying
5. Brush lightly with melted butter.
6. Mix the pureed pistachio’s with the sugar and then place the mixture onto the Filo in a line across the shorter side of Filo that faces you. Fold the longer edges of the pastry inward, sealing in the sides of the filling, and roll the pastry up from the short side, forming a fat cigar shape. Place on the baking sheet with the folded edge down. Repeat with remaining dough.
7. Brush the tops of the pastries lightly with a bit of beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.

Assembly:
1. Dip the warm fingers into cool Sweet Syrup that you refrigerated earlier and arrange on a serving tray. Serve at room temperature.

In some areas of Afghanistan,
Eating syrup and honey is
Superstitiously believed to ward off the
Djinn (evil spirits) and to make life sweeter


What to Drink with this?                  
Coffee with Kahlua or Baileys
Port Wine
Herbal black Tea

Sundown at Bagram Air Base, March 2010
Farmland in Kunduz


I hope this article was informative for you on Afghan cuisine, culture, and how it has affected the history of this land. I look forward to your comments



Picture below was taken with James B. Mallory III, 
Major General (Retired); CG 108th Training Command (IMT); 
Deputy CG NATO TNG MISSION-AFGHANISTAN
On FOB Shank, Logar, Afghanistan 2011




















“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)



Who is John Galt?


TTFN



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