Afghanistan – Noni Afghani, Tamarind Potatoes, Ginger Tamarind Eggplant, Sabse Borani
This was a fun one! I invited my friends Trevor and Philip to join me for cooking the meal, so I went a little overboard since I knew I’d have help and planned 6 dishes! Philip and Trevor are both really into food, so we brainstormed the plan for the meal together and Trevor had the great idea of doing dishes from several “stan” countries. I ended up choosing to do dishes from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. “stan” means “place of” and these countries are near each other have somewhat similar cuisines, but also differences. Also, there are many other “stan” countries not in this meal, so it’s certainly not exhaustive. We did all vegetarian dishes for this meal. Philip is an excellent cook and baker, and he did a ton of the work for this. It was SO fun to cook together!
I didn’t realize how bread-heavy the meal was until we started cooking and the first three items we needed to make were all doughs! Thankfully, the three of us love bread items, and Philip was awesome about kneading and rolling out the doughs. We made the dough for the noni afghani (bread), pumpkin samsa (similar to Indian samosas), and baursaki (similar to fried doughnuts).
The bread turned out really well. It’s quite simple and really delicious. Especially since I pretty much just watched Philip make it 🙂I think the pumpkin samsas ended up being all of our favorite dish. Fresh sage from Philip’s garden!
The fried doughnuts turned out well too, though we ended up adding some cardamom to the sugar coating to give them a bit more flavor.
Our second favorite dish was the tamarind potatoes. They’re pretty simple once you have the tamarind. Thankfully the Indian grocery store I discovered a few months ago has various kinds of tamarind. One recipe called for paste and another called for whole tamarind. Next time I’ll just use the tamarind paste, as it was easier to work with.I didn’t do a good job of photo-documenting all the cooking steps as I was busy having fun chatting with my guests as we cooked, but here’s the finished potato dish.
We made sabse borani, which is similar to creamed spinach. Yummy, quick and easy.
Finally, for the main dish we made ginger tamarind eggplant. I bought the wrong kind of eggplant, it was supposed to be the long skinny eggplants, and instead I accidentally bought the short, fat eggplants. So, we made some adjustments to the recipe to compensate, thanks to Philip’s creativity.
The ginger-tamarind sauce was really delicious, and I liked the flavor of the eggplant. However, despite my best efforts, I’m just not a fan of the texture of eggplant. I would make this recipe again and use a different protein (and be a little more careful not to burn it!).
Here we are grinning over the baursaki we are about to enjoy.It was a lovely meal and SUCH a fun day/evening cooking and chatting with these two. I’m really grateful for their friendship, as we’re all “transplants” to Rochester. Here’s to many more meals together!
Notes for next time:
I sort of sprinkled these thoughts throughout the post. I liked the flavor of the eggplant, but not the texture. The “doughnuts” needed a bit more flavor. Also, have Trevor and Philip always help cook 😉