If you are interested in Afghan foods and want to learn more about this distinctive cuisine, you are lucky since you have come to the right article. From main courses to desserts, you can have all you might need here.
The information about Afghanistan’s culinary culture is relatively scarce, and in case you don’t know where to start first, you can refer to my suggestions below.
Appetizing Savory Dishes You Should Try Once In Afghanistan
Let’s begin the article with various delightful Afghan savory dishes so that you can choose the one you want to try first. Don’t worry, all of them will be toothsome, so you won’t regret giving them a go.
1. Afghani Cilantro Chutney
This Afghan culinary idea will surely be flavorsome because the ingredients list calls for all the pungent fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley with some other strong spices. However, don’t mistake cilantro for parsley, as one small confusion is enough to ruin this dish.
Afghan cilantro chutney is also versatile; you can pair it with almost every Afghan dish like the traditional Bolani, dumplings, or snacks. Its goodness will help to elevate the main course’s taste to another level.
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The best way to make this versatile afghan cilantro chutney.
2. Lavash (Afghani Flatbread)
At first sight, you might mistake the Afghan lavash with naan, a signature kind of bread in India, yet, they are relatively different. First, lavash has toppings, and Afghans will sometimes sprinkle poppy or roasted sesame seeds onto the food.
Secondly, naan is made of leavened dough, while Afghanis make lavash unleavened (to preserve the original taste of the ingredients). This Afghani flatbread has hard or soft variants and with or without fillings.
Spicy meats and cheeses are the ideal partners for this typical lavash. In Afghanistan, people serve lavash to wish for a smooth start for a new marriage, harmonious husband and wife, abundant children, and a prosperous family.
3. Bolani (Stuffed Fried Flatbread)
Now, turn to a dish that calls for lavash (or other softer flatbread) as the main ingredients. The idea of stuffing something inside a layer of “shell” might be pretty familiar in many cuisines globally, yet, this method to make bolani is quite distinguished.
This bolani comes as a side dish suggestion for an enticing Afghan lunch that I can make at home. The filling for a standard bolani piece only ranges from red lentils, pumpkins, chives, potatoes, and so on, which are quite basic.
Imagine dipping the crispy crust into a bowl of Afghani cilantro chutney makes my mouth water already. So refreshing!
This is genuinely how the Afghans sell these treats on the street.
4. Tukhum Bonjan (Afghani Fried Eggs With Tomatoes)
Once mentioning the most popular Afghani breakfasts, you should not miss this tukhum bonjan. In Afghani culinary cuisine, the first meal of the day is quite essential, so they will try to make it as nutritious as possible.
The dish basically consist of tomatoes, eggs, and various hot, aromatic spices. Afghans love enjoy Tukhum Bonjan with milk-based tea and flatbread to balance the tastes.
5. Kabuli Pulao (Afghan National Dish)
When you don’t know what dish to cook with leftover lamb, consider Kabuli Pulao, or Afghan Rice With Lamb. It’s a tasty and hearty dish that will make you swoon with the very fist bite.
You can find this dish with the name “qabli palaw”, and the word “qabli ” means “able”. It has that name because there is a fascinating traditional belief behind the dish.
Afghani will consider a woman as ready for marriage if they can make their national-style pilaf, kabuli pulao, beautifully.
In the past, Afgani only served this dish (which is made of long-grain rice, meat like beef, lamb or chicken, and veggies) in Kabul and only for upper-class families.
In case you are asking, this is basically how Afghani makes a kabuli pulao portion.
6. Rice Mastawa (Sun-Dried Mutton Cooked With Rice)
This hearty rice treat is usually cooked as a heart-warming Afghan dinner for a cold winter evening. Scooping a spoonful of steaming hot chowder-like rice dish, it will be hard to resist filling up your mouth or the empty stomach with the tasteful delicacy.
Two unique ingredients help accentuate the Afghani breeze: lahndi (sun-dried mutton) and quroot (salted, drained, and dried yogurt).
They will simmer all the components in one pot, add several fragrance ingredients before serving with veggies.
7. Aush (Afghan Noodle Soup)
Aush is one of Afghani’s most famous delicacies, and tourists should taste it at least once while visiting this hidden gem. This food whose name begins with “A” is ideal on a cold day.
Aush comes in two main varieties in Afghanistan. The first variety is a meatless or vegetarian-friendly variant with chickpeas and vegetables. The second one has savory fillings with noodles and meatballs from lamb or beef.
The dish’s base will be the special tomatoes/ tomato broth, which will provide a mild sourness and richness while also creating perfect harmony in the dish.
The most detailed guidance on creating a palatable plate of aush.
8. Borani Banjan (Afghan Eggplant Dish)
To be short, this dish is made of fried eggplants with tomato sauce and several Afghan signature condiments. The standard borani banjan needs to cover all the gratifying richness and the minty hint from the seasoned yogurt topping.
From the recipe list, you can obviously see this food is a vegetarian option. Therefore, if you are looking for a vegetarian-friendly meal in Afghanistan, just try this delicacy with meatless lavash or flatbread.
9. Chopan Kabob (Roasted Lamb Racks)
Don’t confuse kabob with kebab, although both are ways to process lamb. To make a chopan or lamb kabob, they will use a whole cut of lamb rack (not the boneless portions) and the fat from the sheep tail for more flavors.
The food appeared from a long time ago when the ancient sheepherders seasoned their lamb with salt and grilled/roasted them on the hot fire for food. Nowadays, the chopan kabob is a prevalent dish in Afghanistan and stands for Pashtun culinary cuisine.
You can find this treat on the road by finding the stalls called dunkan-e-kebabi. They will serve you this chopan kabob with flatbread or long-grain rice based on your preferences.
10. Aushak (Afghanistan Leeks And Scallion Dumplings)
There is usually no meat inside Afghani dumplings, and you can expect the full fillings with only chopped spring onion, chives, gandana (leek), and some kinds of herbs.
But don’t pass it too quickly; Afghan people serve this aushak with minced lamb/beef sauce (ragu) that is cooked in tomato sauce and seasoned with dried mint. Sometimes, they also offer you some tasty chakkah on the dish.
Because this dish requires more effort and time, Afghans will likely prepare it on special occasions or family gatherings.
Easy peasy ways to create a no-fail aushak in an accurate Afghani way.
11. Mantu (Meaty Afghan Dumplings)
Mantu, mantoo, manto, or manti are all used to describe a meatier variation of Afghani dumplings filled with minced beef or lamb. Plus, you can also find it in Saudi Arabian native cuisine.
As illustrated, this dish looks relatively similar to the Chinese dim sum or the Korean mandu, yet the taste will be entirely unique, thanks to the use of hot Afghani spices.
Afghani people will steam these dumplings until cooked and eat them with yogurt and tomato sauces for more taste layers. Furthermore, if you are not a fan of fried foods, these healthier steamed dumplings should be your top choices.
Have You Ever Heard About These Tasty Afghani Desserts?
Among all of the exquisite foods from Afghanistan, let’s start the list with some luscious Afghani sweets first! Believe me; they will surely please your taste buds.
12. Gosh E-fil (Elephant’s Ear Pastries)
The highlight point of this delicacy, besides its exciting elephant ear-reminiscent shape, lies in the simplicity of the dough that is kneaded carefully and then fried until crispy.
The makers need to be skillful since they must ensure that the crust is thin enough to avoid greasy feeling.
After fried, Afghani will top the treat with some icing, powdered sugar, crushed/chopped pistachios, and cardamom to taste. Gosh e-fil is super simple to eat, so you will not encounter any challenge even if it is the first time trying.
13. Afghan Jalebi
Besides Gosh e-fil, this jalebi is the second most famous Afghani sweets or dessert in the world. Jalebi is made from a flour mix combined with fermented sugar, butter, and saffron powder to lend the cake an eye-catching golden color.
The exciting thing about Jalebi is the processing stage; Afghani will put the mixture into a bag, cut a small hole, and directly “drizzle” the paste-like mix into the steaming hot oil pan.
The natives will suggest you have it when it is still hot, so you should try that way of eating too.
Fun fact: You can find this food in Bangladesh under the same name, or Shahi Jilapi. Here, this crunchy snack is often served as a fast during Ramadan.
The proper way to make jalebi you might want to know.
14. Sheer Yakh (Afghani Ice-Cream)
Have you tried ice cream with noodles before? If it is a new term for you, you should experience this distinctive sheer yakh as soon as you have a chance.
The term “sheer yakh” means “frozen milk,” and Afghani, from all age groups, enjoy this titillating sweet treat.
The cream base in this dish will be a bit denser than the regular one, and they usually add in some chopped, flavorful nuts and powdered spices to flavor this sheer yakh.
15. Sheer Khurma (Milk With Dates)
This sheer khurma (or sheer khorma) is a traditional festive Afghan dessert. Besides being served on sacred or religious occasions of the Muslims, this sweet dish can be used hot or cold as a light breakfast or tempting dessert for family’s important guests.
The toppings are often plums, dried nuts, and the sugary milk base . This dish is even richer and milkier than you might think because of the buttered vermicelli.
The most pleasing instruction to make a perfect sheer khurma bowl is here!
16. Malida (Whole Wheat Afghan Treat)
You can find Malida in both Afghanistan and the northern regions of India. Yet, the Afghan variant, which is also the authentic one, has a slight difference in appearance.
In its born-in country, Malida is a meaningful Afghan sweet confection that is frequently prepared for sacred occasions (weddings, festivals, religious ceremonies). That shows how vital this sweet treat is in Afghanistan.
Providing the full flavors from cardamom, sugar, and crunchiness from breadcrumbs, Afghani loves to eat the treat with strong tea to balance the tastes.
17. Haft Mewa (Afghan Fruit and Nut Dish)
“Haft” means “seven,” and “mewa” means “nuts/fruits” in the Afghani language, and it has the name since there are seven main fruits in the haft mewa ingredients list.
The fruits used are fixed, including almonds, walnuts, red/green raisins, apricots, pistachios, and berries. Each of the mentioned fruits/nuts provides a distinctive color so that the haft mewa bowl will be absolutely colorful.
Afghani will serve this dessert with sweet rosewater and eat it on the first breakfast of the Afghani new year (or the first day of spring).
The best taste test for haft mewa you should take a look at.
It Is A Privilege To Have A Chance To Experience Many Cultures
Every culture in the world, big or small, famous or not, has an unmistakable identity. Their typical dishes will significantly show a lot of those features.
If you are a person who loves to experience the delicious food from this sunny and windy country, trying Afghan cuisine will be an unforgettable memory for you.
I hope that the dishes I present to you today will help you choose your favorite. Please share your impressions with me in the comment section below; I would love to know your feelings.