Introduction to Afghani Cuisine
Afghanistan (also called the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) is a landlocked country situated between Western, Central, and South Asia. Kabul is the capital of the state. And, the landscape comprises of mostly mountains, ridges, and some plains.
The country shares its border with Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Tajikistan, and China. It is home to a massive population of 32-million people. Surrounded by many countries, there are several ethnic groups in Afghanistan, including Pashtuns, Hazara, Uzbeks, and Tajiks.
Well, apart from being famous for its ethnic diversity and pomegranates, the land of Afghans is quite famous for its intriguing cuisine. Let’s explore Afghan food culture together!
Afghan Food Culture
Having suffered through war and political instabilities, Afghanistan is a struggling country with masses on the poverty line. But, as the famous saying goes, the best of foods come from the poorest of lands.
Undeniably, Afghan food culture is exotic and rich. Over time, it has got influenced by various regions. Persia has given Afghan cuisine the coriander, mint, and green herbs. Whereas, the sub-continent (India and Pakistan) give it valuable spices, including cardamom, chili, nutmeg, and pepper. Moreover, the Mongolians influenced the style of serving, such as the shape of Mantus.
Apart from these influences, Afghan food culture has a particular style—they use some specific ingredients and cooking methods that highlight them. The Afghani dishes are mostly fatty that helps them survive through the mountainous terrain and icy winters.
As for the food traditions, Afghans prefer eating on Dasterkhans, which is a long rectangular mat. People gather around these Dasterkhans and eat together. They prefer eating with hand while using the bread (or Naan) as a scoop.
As mentioned earlier, the land of Afghanistan has a diversity of ethnic groups. Hence, it does not occur as a surprise that there are regional cuisines as well. Let’s have a detailed insight into the two primary regional cuisines.
· Pashtun cuisine
A majority of Afghanistan’s ethnic population are Pashtuns, which is roughly 42-percent. Pashtun cuisine has meaty dishes, such as Sajji, Dampukht, and Chapli Kebab. They use goat meat and bread (also called Naan) a lot.
The Pashtun groups are present in both Afghanistan and western Pakistan. Hence, from Peshawar to Kabul, Pashtun cuisine varies considerably.
· Hazara cuisine
Hazara cuisine is unique and exceptional. Some of the primary ingredients include meat, wheat, and oil. The people of Hazara prepare food by mixing all the ingredients, which makes their dishes exotic. A few famous dishes include Nantar, Dalda, and AAsh. Also, they do not offer a collection of dishes. Instead, they serve only one dish at a time.
Essential Ingredients in Afghani Cuisine
Afghani cuisine mostly utilizes native crops and ingredients, such as wheat, barley, maize, and rice. These staple pantry items in Afghani kitchens. Also, as Afghan people prefer fatty dishes, they add meat and oil a lot in their dishes.
As for the spices, the Afghani food is neither too spicy nor too plain. Hence, they use spices, seeds, and herbs in moderate quantities.
So, if you have wheat, barley, maize, rice, meat, and oil in your kitchen pantry, you are all set to prepare Afghani dishes.
Native Afghani Dishes
Afghan food is a combination of various ethnic cuisines. Hence, there exists a diversity to enthralling that you will never feel tired of eating Afghani food. There are numerous variants of each recipe, and each one is finger-licking good. So, whenever planning to try out Afghani Cuisine, one must not miss out on the following specialties and native dishes.
· Rice-based Dishes
As mentioned earlier, the rice is a native crop and staple pantry item in Afghanistan. Hence, it has also inspired a majority of Afghan food. Some of the famous rice-based dishes include Palau and Moi.
Another interesting fact is that these rice-based recipes get considered a delicacy. So, chefs and cooks spend a lot of time preparing the meals.
Another delicious dish made by Afghans is the Qorma. It has an onion-tomato base with a variety of vegetables and meat. The onions get caramelized and tomato fried before adding other ingredients. In Afghani cuisine, there are over 100 Qurma variants present.
Karahi is similar to Qorma but has a different cooking method. It gets cooked in a wok. All the ingredients get added in together and then simmered.
A traditional dish of the Afghani cuisine is the Mantu. Inspired by Mongolian, the Mantu is a dumpling that has a filling of meat and vegetables.