Shir Birinj (Rice Pudding)

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This is a favorite desert, using the ever-present rice. The vanilla essence is sometimes omitted in villages where it may not be available.

Ingredients

2 cups cooked rice
1 1/4 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup raisins
chopped pistachios for garnish

Instructions

Combine all ingredients except the pistachios and place in a greased baking dish.

Bake in a 300 degree F. oven for about 45 minutes until done. Garnish with pistachios and serve.

Kabuli Pulao (Lamb and Rice)

Kabuli Pulao (Lamb and Rice)

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Afghan dishes are rich in calories and perfectly suited to the dry and cold weather of this rugged terrain. Kabuli Pulao is the national dish of Afghanistan and is very popular in south Asia and throughout the Middle East.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon butter
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cups basmati rice
3 cups mutton broth (or vegetable broth if preferred)
2 1/2 pounds cubed lamb meat
2 teaspoons whole cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom pods
2″ cinnamon piece
1/4 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
Salt to taste
5 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions

Melt the butter in a skillet. Sauté the carrots and raisins until the carrot is soft, then set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the same skillet and fry the onions until translucent.

Add rice and mutton (or vegetable) broth and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is partially cooked.

In a separate pan, heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and fry the cumin, cardamom, cinammon, and peppercorns, then add lamb pieces. Add salt to taste and cook for 5-6 minutes.

In a greased baking dish, arrange the lamb pieces in the center and cover with partially cooked rice. Sprinkle the cooked carrots and raisins on top.

Preheat an oven on 250 degrees F. and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve hot in a large flat dish.

Heat scale: mild

Bouranee Baunjan (Eggplant with Yogurt)

Bouranee Baunjan (Eggplant with Yogurt)

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The eggplant is browned before being cooked in a spicy tomato and onion sauce, then served with garlicky yogurt. It is simply delicious served with flat bread.

Ingredients

Eggplant with Yoghurt

1 large eggplant
Olive oil for frying
2 medium onions, sliced
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes (add more for additional heat)
1/4 cup vegetable stock
2 cups plain yogurt
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Chopped fresh coriander and mint, for garnish
Salt to taste

Instructions

Cut the unpeeled eggplant into 1/2-inch slices and sprinkle liberally with salt. Leave for 30 minutes then pat dry with paper towels. This process allows the salt to draw out some moisture from the eggplant.

Heat oil in a deep frying pan and then fry eggplant until lightly golden on both sides (they do not need to be cooked through—you are just adding color and a bit of flavor). You will need to do this in batches and add more oil as needed. Remove the cooked eggplant slices to a plate covered.

Oil will leach from the cooked eggplant slices, so return this to the pan to reheat and then add the onion. Fry until soft.

Add 3 of the crushed garlic cloves, tomato slices and red chile flakes and cook until the tomatoes break down and a sauce is formed. Add a little stock and seasoning as needed. Remove from pan.

Place a layer of eggplant slices back into the pan. Top with sauce. Repeat until all the eggplant slices are back in the pan. Pour in any remaining oil from the eggplant and onion and add the remaining stock. Cover and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes until the eggplant is tender.


Combine the yogurt, salt and remaining garlic clove. Mix well then spread over the base of the serving dish.


Add the eggplant slices, lifting eggplant carefully to keep intact. Top with remaining sauce and onions. Sprinkle with some fresh mint and coriander for color.


Note: The traditional recipe calls for chakah, which is plain yogurt that has been drained overnight. This makes it a little thicker and drier.

Heat scale: medium

Pilau Kabuli (Chicken and Rice)

Pilau Kabuli (Chicken and Rice)

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Chicken is not an everyday dish in Afghanistan, as few are raised, and they are only served at very special meals. Parts can be used, or an entire chicken.

Ingredients

2 jalapeño or serrano chiles, stems removed, sliced into rings
4 pounds chicken, cut up
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups cooked rice
2 medium onions, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon shortening
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 medium carrots, cooked and thinly sliced
4 ounces seedless raisins

Instructions

Place the chicken and chopped onion a large pot, cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least an hour, until tender. Remove the chicken, allow it to cool, strain, and reserve the stock. Remove the meat from the bones and use only the larger pieces.

To prepare the sauce, brown the sliced onions in the shortening, remove from heat, then add the cardamom, cumin, and chile, and mash with the onions to form a puree. Add about 2 cups of the reserved chicken stock and mix well. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Combine the rice, stock sauce and chicken.  Place in a greased casserole, put the carrots on top in a pattern, then spread the raisins over the top.  Cover and cook in a moderate oven, 325 degrees F., for about 30 minutes. If the dish looks dry, add more stock. When finished, gently mix the carrots and raisins with the rice and chicken.

Heat scale: medium

Saulan (Vegetable and Rice Sauce)

Saulan (Vegetable and Rice Sauce)

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This sauce is served over cooked rice or vegetable dishes. There is a lot of variety in each cook’s ingredients, so this is a widely used, basic sauce.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon chopped or minced fresh green or red chile, such as serrano or New Mexican
1 pound very lean boneless beef or lamb, cubed
1/2 cup shortening
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup water
1/4 cup dried peas or beans, soaked overnight

Instructions

Lightly brown the cubed meat, onion and garlic in the shortening. Add the other ingredients and cook until the meat is tender.

Heat scale: medium

Variation: Other fresh vegetables, such as eggplant, green peas, beans, or squash may be used in place of the dried peas or beans. They should be cut in small cubes, and after the meat is tender they can be added.