Many Americans have negative connotations associated with Afghanistan…war, terrorism, Osama Bin Laden. But how much do we really know about Afghanistan? Instead of using Wikipedia as an educational tool, I took a trip to my local Afghan restaurant to find out more.
Hidden behind an Applebee’s in what use to be a Dairy Queen is a hidden gem that I am hesitant to reveal, just because I want it all to myself (good thing for you I am not selfish and I will share). In the heart of campus is Cafe Kabul. In 1986 owner, Noorgul Dada, immigrated with his family from Jalalabad, Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. In 2002 he graduated from The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) in engineering and in June 2010 opened Cafe Kabul . Although the restaurant was buzzing with a diverse clientele, Noorgul was nice enough to sit down and talk to my sister, Jennifer (she just happened to be hanging out), and I about Afghan food and culture.
below: making veggie pakora
above: Noorgul Dada
Afghan cuisine reflects its natural terrain along with its ethnic diversity. The wide varying terrain allows for many different crops, which the cuisine is based upon. Most dishes contain some variety of rice, which is considered the “king” of all foods, accompanied by meat, and a varity of dried fruits and nuts. While many staple dishes use many similar ingredients, such as coriander, cardamom, and cumin, Afghan food also reflects the influence of its neighbors. Dishes in the west have Iranian influence and use a notable amount of saffron (which I found out is super expensive!!!!), while dishes, such as the veggie pakora, are influenced from Pakistan.
- 1cup of basmati rice
- 1lb of lamb on the bone
- 2 carrots, julienned
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1cup of raisins
- 2tsp of cumin
- 2tsp of cinnamon
- ¼ cup sugar
- Vegetable oil
- salt and pepper
- 1cup of water
- Brown diced onion in vegetable oil in a large pot. Sautee until the onion is soft and brown.
- Cut lamb into cubes and add to the onion and cook until brown.
- Add 1 cup of water, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until meat is tender (about 45min)
- Remove meat from the juice and set leave juice in the pot.
- Add basmati rice and cook until tender.
- While the rice is cooking sauté carrots in sugar and 1/3 cup of vegetable oil. Cook until they are lightly browned and tender.
- Remove from oil and add raisins to the same pan. Cook until they are swelled.
- Once the rice is finished, place on a large dish. Add lamb pieces on top and then add carrots and raisins on top. ENJOY!
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2tbs tomato paste
- 1lb okra
- 1tbsp ground turmeric
- Vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2cups of water
- Heat vegetable oil in skillet and add onion. Sauté until soft and brown.
- Stir in tomato paste until no lumps remain.
- Add okra, and sprinkle with turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour in 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender and sauce has thickened, about twenty minutes. Season with salt and pepper again before serving.