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Cooking in Khorasan (Afghanistan) Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   Kamyar Icon

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 01:54 AM



Various traditions pertaining to Afghanistani cookery form an integral part of the deeply entrenched Afghanistani social institution of hospitality. Family honor, as well as individual status within the community, is measured in good part by the lavishness of the household kitchen. All events in the life cycle from birth to death, as well as changes of season, are celebrated with feasting (Tapper).

Although regional culinary specialties reflect the geographic and ethnic diversity of Afghanistan and affinities with the cuisines of Central Asia, Persia, and Pakistan (Bacon, passim; L. Dupree, 1980, pp. 225-38; N. H. Dupree, 1977, pp. 9-10), the daily diet of the majority of Afghans is simple, consisting primarily of bread and generous amounts of sugared tea, black or green, with or without cardamom. Only in rare in?*stances is tea drunk with milk (see ??y).

Bread (n?n) is made in various shapes and sizes and may be leavened or unleavened; the flour may be of wheat, barley, corn, lentils, or millet. Bread is some?*times baked on the walls of a clay oven (tand?r, tan?r) set into a mud-brick platform (Jeanneret, pp. 37-44). A convex iron griddle set on a tripod over an open fire is the method preferred by many nomadic groups. Shep?*herds wrap dough around hot rocks and set it to bake beside the campfire (L. Dupree, 1980, pp. 225-27; Wannell, p. 22). However it is prepared, n?n is so central to the diet that the term refers to food in general throughout Afghanistan, as in Persia (cf. bread).

On festive occasions the main dish usually consists of a mounded platter of rice (see berenj ii). Rice cooked with large chunks of lamb or chicken (pelaw, polow) and plain boiled rice (?alaw, ?elow), some?*times mixed with chopped spinach (sabz? p?lak) and aptly called zamarod or zomorrod emerald pelaw, are particularly popular. Meat and vegetables may also be served in various forms of stew (q?rma/qorma), with rice or bread on the side. Some provincial teahouses specialize in ??ynak?, meat stews cooked in teapots (??ynak) embedded in hot coals.

Kabob (kab? B) is a collective term for at least seven varieties of lamb dish served with bread, which are considered great delicacies. When charcoal-broiled on skewers known as s??, kabobs may consist of small cubes of lamb marinated in yogurt with garlic and threaded on the skewers in alternation with pieces of fat, large meaty chunks with bone fragments attached, or minced meat in oblong patties molded around the skewer. Other dishes based on cubed or minced lamb, also called kab?b, may be pan-fried or baked in heavy iron utensils (Saberi, pp. 71-80; N. H. Dupree, 1972, pp. 160-61). Game birds are roasted, stewed, pan?*-fried, or charcoal-broiled. Steamed meat dumplings (mant?) are a specialty of cooks in the north.

Pasta dishes (L. Dupree, 1983) are also favorites; they range from soups containing noodles, legumes (?, q.v.), and other vegetables to ravioli (aak) stuffed with cheese or Chinese chives (gandana/gandan?) and topped with a tomato-based meat sauce. Most such dishes are topped with drained yogurt (?aka) or the more acidic qor?t?, made by reconstituting rock?*-hard dehydrated balls of ?aka (qor?t) in water (see cheese). A slightly sweetened pelaw flavored with turmeric, orange peel, almonds, and pistachio nuts is often served as an accompanying dish.

Traditionally the main cooking oils were clarified butter, or ghee, and lard rendered from the tails of fat-?*tailed sheep, but in the 1960s lighter vegetable oils were introduced and are widely used. A great variety of herbs and spices, including cumin, coriander, mint, cinnamon, cloves, and sesame, are used in cooking; chili peppers are, however, used only sparingly. Herbs and spices are also believed to have a wide variety of medicinal properties, especially in aiding digestion (Parenti, passim).

Pickled vegetables (tor?); chutneys (?otn?) made from red peppers, coriander, or fruits; and salads of chopped tomato, onion, fresh coriander, and lime juice typically accompany meals (Saberi, p. 123). The fresh juice of sour oranges heightens the flavor of pelaw, while skewered kab?bs are most often sprinkled with crushed dried grape seeds and red and black pepper. Nuts, raisins, and carrots are also often used as gar?*nishes (L. Dupree, 1983, pp. 227-31).

Qor?t? reconstituted with oil is popular eaten with bread in winter; a dish of eggplant and ?aka is a particular favorite at any time (b?njan-e b?r?n?/b?denj?n-e b?r?n?). Other products made from cows, sheeps, and goats milk include yogurt (m?st) and buttermilk (d??, q.v.), to which diced cucumbers are added in summer. A soft, unpasteurized cheese commonly served with raisins is a springtime specialty (N. H. Dupree, 1977, p. 196). Butter is churned in inflated goatskins and clarified into ghee (Strand, pp. 127-28). A rich, clotted cream (qaym?q) is eaten with bread for breakfast (L. Dupree, 1980, p. 235) and on special occasions is also served as an elegant topping for tea.

Crisp fried pastries made from bread and stuffed with gandana or mashed potatoes (b?l?n?) are frequently served as appetizers or as part of the main meal. Sugar-coated chickpeas, apricot kernels, pistachio, walnuts, and almonds, collectively known as noql, as well as raisins and other dried fruits, are served with tea and before meals. A mix of walnuts and dried mulberries (?ok?da) and hard bars of ground mulberries (tal??n) provide nutritious snacks, often carried by travelers (N. H. Dupree, 1977, p. 116).

Seasonal fruits, the most important being melons, grapes, apricots, plums, cherries, and peaches, are commonly served at the end of the meal, but festive occasions call for specialties. A compote made from seven fruits and nuts (haft-meywa, haft-m?va) is served at celebrations of the New Year on 1 Nowr?z/21 March, the first day of spring; another popular dish at such festivities is fish followed by crisp pastries soaked in sugar syrup (jalab?). One elaborate, and ancient, dish is reserved for weddings and similar ceremonial occasions; it is composed of gossamer strands of egg batter quickly deep-fried in hot oil and laced with sugar syrup (abr?om- or abr?am-kab?b, lit. silk kabob; L. Dupree, 1983, pp. 235-36; Saberi, pp. 128, 144).

The distribution of food, particularly sweets, as a symbolic gesture of thanksgiving plays a significant part in domestic religious rituals (Doubleday, pp. 49-?*53) and in acknowledging answered prayers (Saberi, p. 22). Affluent pilgrims to religious shrines publicly distribute massive quantities of pelaw to the needy and faithful in gratitude for boons granted. Many shrines maintain mammoth cooking vessels and a staff of male cooks especially for this purpose (N. H. Dupree, 1977, p. 307).


Bibliography : E. Bacon, Central Asians under Russian Rule, Ithaca, N.Y., 1966. V. Doubleday, Three Women of Herat, London, 1988. L. Dupree, Afghanistan, Princeton, N.J., 1980. Idem, From Whence Cometh Pasta? in P. Snoy, ed., Ethnologie und Geschichte. Festschrift fr Karl Jettmar, Wiesbaden, 1983, pp. 128-34. N. H. Dupree, Kabul, 2nd ed., Kabul, 1972. Idem, An Historical Guide to Afghanistan, 2nd ed., Kabul, 1977. A. Jeanneret, Contribution ?* ltude des boulangers de Kaboul, Afghanistan Journal (Graz) 1/2, 1974, pp. 37-44. C. Parenti, A Taste of Afghanistan. The Cuisine of the Crossroads of the World, Phoenix, Ariz., 1987. H. Saberi, Noshe Djan, London, 1986. M. Nazif Shahrani, The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan, Seattle, Wash., 1979. P. Shalizi, Here and There in Afghanistan, Kabul, 1966. R. Strand, The Chang?*ing Herding Economy of the Kom Nuristani, Af?*ghanistan Journal (Graz) 2/4, 1975, pp. 123-34. R. and N. Tapper, Eat This, Itll Do You a Power of Good. Food and Commensality among Durrani Pashtuns, American Ethnologist 13/1, 1986, pp. 62?*-79. B. Wannell, Bread Making in Afghanistan, Afghanistan (London) 10, 1989, pp. 22-23.

(Nancy Hatch Dupree)

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#2 User is offline   dokhtare pulegun Icon

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Posted 03 August 2008 - 12:24 PM

Reading that made me want to cook :)

I'm so hungry!!
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#3 User is offline   Kamyar Icon

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 11:34 PM

[QUOTE=dokhtare pulegun;12789]Reading that made me want to cook :)

I'm so hungry!![/QUOTE]

Make some for me too! :D
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#4 User is offline   Sohrab Icon

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 12:44 PM

I asked the admin to add a cookery section in this website to introduce our food to the other people if they visit us, not sure if they have done so.
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#5 User is offline   Madina Icon

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 11:36 PM

Mantu, Bolani, Qabeli, etcetera: Where else can you get such mouth watering food? :cool:
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