RSS Feed

Aush

Afghans often prepare this dish to help cure colds. They add plenty of garlic and lots of red pepper as they say it helps clear the head and chest. Afghans usually make their own noodles. The noodle dough is rolled out very thin, then rolled up tight and cut into fine strips with a sharp knife. The noodles are then tossed in a little flour and allowed to dry on a board. Dried noodles or ready-made fresh spaghetti, as in this recipe, can be substituted although the cooking time may vary. Canned chickpeas and kidney beans may also be substituted.

  • 2 oz dry chickpeas
  • 2 oz dry red kidney beans
  • 8 oz fresh spaghetti or tagliatelle
  • 2 c strained yogurt
  • Salt
  • Red pepper, according to taste
  • 1 tbsp dried mint

For the Minced Meat

  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, fi nely chopped
  • 1 lb minced beef or lamb
  • ½ c tomato juice (or water)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper

Soak the chickpeas and beans in 4 cups water overnight. Put the chickpeas and beans into a large pan with the water in which they were soaked and add ½ cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and boil gently until cooked, adding extra water if necessary. Cooking time will vary according to the freshness of the pulses. While the pulses are cooking, prepare the meat. Heat the oil in a pan over medium to high heat. Add the chopped onions, and fry over medium heat, stirring continuously until they are reddish-brown. Turn up the heat, add the meat, and stir well. Fry until brown. Add the tomato juice (or water), and bring to a boil. Add the coriander and salt and pepper to taste. Stir again, then turn down the heat and simmer for about half an hour or until the meat is cooked and the sauce is thick. Add extra water if the sauce becomes too dry. When the meat and pulses are cooked, bring to a boil 3½ cups water in a large pan. Add salt and the noodles, and boil gently for about 10 minutes. Add the chickpeas, beans, strained yogurt, and some or all of the liquid from the chickpeas and beans, depending on how thick you want the soup. Add the dried mint, salt, and red pepper, and mix well. More water can be added if required. Leave on low heat for about 10 minutes or so to let the flavors blend. Serve the soup and top with a little of the meat. The remaining meat is served separately to be added to the top of each individual portion of aush.

Cooking in afghanistan

Many Afghans live in extended families, and this means that a large amount of food must be prepared each day. The shopping used to be the responsibility of the men, but recently women and children have taken on this role. The preparation and cooking of the food, which are very labor-intensive, are normally done by the female members of the household, the most senior woman usually being in charge with her female relatives helping. Affluent families have cooks, usually male, and for big parties and special occasions professional male cooks are hired.
The traditional Afghan kitchen is very basic. Few people have electric ovens, even in the cities. Cooking is done over wood or charcoal fi res or in more recent times on burners fueled by bottled gas. Some large families may have a clay oven (tandoor) for baking bread. Refrigerators are also rare. Food is kept cool and fresh during the hot summer months in a range of clay pots and containers. In many households, especially in rural areas, there is no running water. All washing up is done outside, using water from a well. Sophisticated kitchen equipment such as electric mixers or grinders is practically nonexistent. Most Afghans do, however, have a range of pans (dayg ) in different sizes, some quite large for cooking pilaus. The awang (mortar and pestle) is an essential piece of equipment for crushing garlic, onions, herbs, and spices, and all Afghan homes own one. Many Afghan families grind their own spice mixture called char masala, which is used mainly to flavor pilaus. The choice of spices varies, but the four most common ones are cassia (or cinnamon), cloves, cumin, and black cardamom seeds. Most families have a rolling pin for rolling out the dough for their pasta and noodle dishes. Affluent Afghans may have a pasta-making machine. Afghans rarely measure out their ingredients. Recipes and techniques tend to be passed down from mother to daughter and are learned through practice and experience. Most kitchens do, however, have a range of pots with handles, called malaqa, which are used as measuring aids, and ordinary cups, glasses, and spoons are also used for measuring.

Food tends to be cooked slowly and for a longer time, especially meat dishes, as meat can be quite tough and this method of cooking helps brings out all the flavors of the ingredients. Some Afghans own a pressure cooker, which shortens the cooking time considerably. Nan forms the basis of the diet of all Afghans, and it usually accompanies every meal to scoop up food or soak up juices. The word nan actually means “food” in Afghanistan. First thing in the morning the dough for the bread will be made. It is leavened with a fermented starter prepared from a small lump of dough from the previous day. Bread is left to rise before being baked in the tandoor or taken to the local bakery to be baked. A tandoor is a clay oven built into the ground that is capable of reaching temperatures far higher than an ordinary domestic oven does. The bread is cooked by slapping the dough onto the hot sides of the tandoor. When ready it is deftly removed using a hook or a stick. Breads are also cooked on a tawah, a curved, circular cast iron plate that is heated over a fi re before the bread is slapped onto it and cooked on both sides. The plate is portable, and this method is especially used by the nomads. Bread cooked on a tawah is unleavened and known as chapati or nan-e-tawagi. Noodle dishes are popular and resemble many of

the noodle dishes found along the Silk Road. They are all made in the home, with some of the more complicated versions made only for special occasions, including mantu, which is closely related to the man t’ou of China and the manti of Turkey. Ashak, a leek-filled pasta, resembles Italian ravioli.
Aush is the basic noodle dish, served much like a soup. Lakhchak is similar to lasagna. Two types of rice are used in cooking: long grain and short grain. The long-grain variety is used for pilaus and chalau. Chalau is plain white rice that is served with a vegetable or meat dish. Pilaus are more elaborate and are cooked with meat and meat juices. They are colored by using browned onions, spinach, caramelized sugar, saffron, or turmeric. Very often vegetables, such as carrots, or fruits and nuts, such as orange peel, apricots, raisins, almonds, and pistachios, are used as a garnish. Two methods are used for cooking long-grain rice. In the dampokht method the rice is boiled in just enough liquid for the cooking. With the sof method the rice is fi rst parboiled in a large amount of salted water and then drained. Oil, spices, and a little more liquid (water or stock) are added, and the rice is finished off in an oven or on top of the stove or fire. The basic short-grain rice dish is called bata, where the rice is cooked with plenty of water and a little oil until soft and sticky. It is served with a vegetable or meat qorma. Shola, another sticky white rice dish, is cooked in a similar way but can be savory or sweet. The savory version is cooked with
meat and pulses. Sweet versions are often flavored with cardamom and rose water and studded with
flaked almonds and pistachios. Ketcheree quroot (similar to the kitchri of India) is another version that is made with the addition of mung beans and served with a meat qorma and quroot.
Onions play an important role in Afghan cookery. Both white and red onions are used, but red ones are preferred as they give a thicker sauce and richer flavor. Onions are sometimes fried until very brown and soft, almost caramelized, before being ground for adding to soups, qormas, and pilaus to give flavor and color.
The Afghan housewife makes full use of fruits and vegetables in season and dries them or makes preserves, chutneys, and pickles. Pickles ( turshi ) are made from lemons, carrots, eggplants, and mixed vegetables. Apricots, peaches, cherries, bell peppers, cilantro, and mint are made into chutneys ( chutni ). Meat is also dried, especially in mountainous or remote regions where fresh meat is not always available in the winter months. Landi is a special type of dried meat. A fat sheep is slaughtered at the end of autumn and the wool is sheared off , leaving the skin with a thick layer of fat underneath. The whole carcass is then hung to dry. To make gosht-e-qagh (dried meat) the meat is cut into large chunks that are scored and rubbed with salt. The meat is then hung up in a warm, shady place to dry and let the
juices drip out. After the process is repeated, the meat is hung in a cool place until needed.

Food in afghanistan

Afghanistan is a landlocked, mountainous country situated at the crossroads of four major cultural areas: the Middle East, Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, and the Far East. It is bordered by Iran in the west, Pakistan in the south and east, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north, and China in the far northeast. Afghanistan was also a major crossroad on the ancient Silk Road that linked East and West and played a vital role in the exchange of ideas, religions, foods, and plants.
Afghanistan has had a turbulent history, which continues to the present day. Because of its geographic position Afghanistan has been invaded many times by armies from different places, each bringing its own influences on the culture. After a brief period of relative stability under King Zahir Shah, since the late 1970s Afghanistan has suffered continuous conflict and war. The Russians invaded in 1980. After they left, the 1990s saw a brutal civil war and the rise of the Taliban. In 2001 the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban, but the war against them continues.
Afghanistan, which became an Islamic Republic in 2001, has an estimated population of between 28 and 33 million. The population is made up of a number of ethnic groups, the main ones being Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimak, Turkmen, and Baloch. While the majority (99%) of Afghans are Muslims, there are also small pockets of Hindus and Sikhs, and there used to be a small community of Jews. Afghanistan has been a melting pot for a large number of cultures and traditions over Afghanistan the centuries, and the cuisine reflects its internal diversity and the tastes and flavors of its neighbors.
Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, and many years of war and political instability have taken their toll, leaving the country in ruins and dependent on foreign aid. It is a land of contrasts, with vast areas of scorching, parched deserts; high, cold, inaccessible mountain regions; and extensive green valleys and plains. Generally the summers are hot and dry, and the winters are cold with heavy snowfalls, especially in the mountains. It is from the snow-capped mountains that water is available for irrigation. The plains and valleys are very fertile as long as there is water. With the diversity of its terrain and climate Afghanistan can produce a wide variety of foodstuffs. Agriculture is the main source of income. Cereals such as wheat, corn, and barley are the chief staple crops. They are ground into flour and made into different kinds of breads and noodle-type dishes. A small amount of rice, another staple, is grown on the terraces of the Hindu Kush in the north and in the Jalalabad area in the southeast, although much has to be imported.
Vegetables, fruits, and nuts are cultivated extensively, and many are exported. Afghanistan is famous for its numerous varieties of grapes, from which green and red raisins are produced, and for its melons and watermelons. Other fruits include pomegranates, plums, mulberries, quinces, cherries, apricots, nectarines, apples, and pears. Bananas, lemons, and oranges grow in the subtropical region of Jalalabad. Vegetables include onions, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, gandana (a kind of allium similar to Chinese chives), spring onions (scallions), green beans, okra, cabbage, cauliflower, radishes, and numerous kinds of pumpkins, squashes, gourds, and zucchini. Nuts also play an important role in the Afghan diet. Walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, and almonds are all used in cooking—in pastries, pilaus, and desserts—but they are also eaten on their own as snacks, often salted and mixed with dried fruits such as raisins and served with tea. Afghans add spices and herbs to their food for flavor and fragrance; the results are neither too spicy nor too bland. Some spices are imported, but many herbs are grown locally. Saffron, although expensive, is the preferred spice for flavoring and coloring rice dishes and desserts. It is grown in Afghanistan, and its cultivation is being encouraged to try to persuade farmers to switch from growing poppies, which are processed into opium and are thus an enormous cash crop. Similarly, farmers are being encouraged to cultivate more quinces and pomegranates for export. Other popular spices include aniseed, cardamom, cassia and cinnamon, chilies, cloves, coriander, cumin, dill, fenugreek, ginger, nigella, black and red pepper, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and turmeric. Asafetida, which grows profusely in the north of Afghanistan, is not used much in Afghan cooking but is an important crop, as much of it is exported to India. Herbs such as cilantro, dill, and mint are used extensively in cooking, especially in soups and stews. Garlic is also widely used. Other flavorings include rose water, especially for desserts. Roses grow abundantly in Afghanistan, and distilling rose water is a cottage industry.
Industry in Afghanistan is based on agriculture and pastoral raw materials. The major industrial crops are cotton, tobacco, madder, castor beans, and sugar. Sugar beets are grown in the north, and sugarcane is grown near Jalalabad in the southeast. Nabot (crystallized sugar) is a popular energyboosting snack, especially with children. Gur (unrefi ned sugar) is used as a sweetener.
Lamb, which comes from the fat-tailed sheep, is the preferred meat, but beef, veal, goat, water buffalo, horse, and camel are also eaten. Chicken, which used to be a luxury and not always available, is liked, and today many chickens are imported (often frozen) from Iran, Pakistan, and India and are plentiful in the cities. Since Afghanistan is a Muslim country, pork is not eaten. Game meats such as quail, pigeon, duck, and partridge are eaten when available. All parts of animals are eaten including the heads, feet, and testicles. A sausage made from boiled horse meat using the innards as a casing is made and eaten by Uzbeks and Kirghiz in northern Afghanistan.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.