Top 20 Most Popular Afghani Dishes
Afghanistan is located in Central Asia and was a land of mighty warriors that presided over the country. While these legends vanished over time, they left their culture behind. The exquisite cuisine of these heroes is still an integral part of the country and is appreciated all over the world.
People from different countries and cultures visit the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul, to taste the most scrumptious and hard-to-resist Afghan dishes. Most dishes consist of an interesting blend of aromatic spices and herbs. They are generally served with meat, which is tender and flavorful, and are usually eaten with naan (flatbread) or plain rice.
We have put together 20 of the most popular dishes that you should make sure to try on your next visit to Afghanistan. Let’s have a look.
Aushak is one of the most popular Afghani dishes and is generally eaten during the month of Ramadan or other Islamic festivals. Pasta dumplings are stuffed with chives, tomato purée, kofta pashaan (minced meat sauce), and then topped with a special yogurt sauce and dried mint leaves.
There is also a vegetarian version; however, the original Aushak recipe includes lamb. Aushak is usually eaten on its own, but some like to have it with garlic naan to enhance the flavor.
2. Kabuli Pulao
Kabuli pulao is quite easy to make as it only consists of a handful of ingredients. It is known as the national dish of Afghanistan because of its popularity. It is a slow-cooked pulao that includes lamb and mutton along with meat stock called yakhni.
This rice dish requires minimum spices and is cooked in lamb fat for flavor. It is later garnished with raisins and shredded carrots for a touch of sweetness. It is a traditional dish that is a part of every household menu and religious gathering in Afghanistan.
3. Afghan Kabab
Afghan Kebab is known as one of the best dishes you will ever taste. It is not only easy to make, it also tastes absolutely delicious. Kebabs are made differently all over the world, but Afghani kebabs are among the best.
Mutton plays a major role in the ingredients, and the red chilli powder in it spices things up, so people always come back for more. Afghan kebabs can accompany other main dishes.
Mantu is a well-known dish from Afghanistan. It is loved for its dumpling-like appearance and mouthwatering taste. The mantus are a pastry wrapper stuffed with spiced lamb. They can be cooked in two different ways: boiled or steamed.
They are commonly topped with yoghurt and garlic, to amp up the presentation. The best part is that you can make them as big as you like and enjoy them with a wide variety of sauces.
Qormah might not be the most popular dish, but it is a welcoming and heartwarming dish often served at family gatherings. It is made with mutton, keeping it both traditional and delicious. It is also known for its high nutritional value.
It is one of the best dishes in Afghanistan, though it is also a bit difficult to cook. But it is worth all the time and effort, especially when sprinkled with some freshly cut coriander leaves. Bon appetit!
6. Afghan Karahi
One look at Afghani karahi is enough to get your mouth watering. Its exquisite presentation and pleasant smell will surely get you hooked. Cooking it is a long process involving meat (of any choice) as the main protein along with a wide range of aromatic spices and vegetables. It is further garnished with freshly cut coriander leaves.
Afghani karahi is a contemporary dish and is quite popular. People enjoy it because of its aroma and delicious taste. Make sure to serve it with either naan or roti to complete the meal!
Bolani is a type of flatbread, commonly baked or fried. It is stuffed with different fillings, either a mixture of veggies or meat, or you can always eat it simply with yoghurt. It is usually eaten as a side dish or an appetizer, and is very common at birthdays, engagement parties, or holidays.
It can be served with either yoghurt or mint yoghurt, but doogh, a special drink, is the most commonly demanded side for bolani. The best part about this dish is that it can be eaten in a variety of ways: filling or no filling, or with different kinds of sauces.
8. Haft Mewa
Haft mewa is almost like a fruit salad but made with seven different types of dried fruits and nuts mixed and served in a special syrup. The ingredients are raisins, senjed, pistachios, hazelnuts, prunes, walnuts or almonds, and plums. This sweet and healthy salad is Afghanistan’s most popular dessert due to the overload of nutrients and its exceptional taste.
But guess what the best part is? The recipe for the haft mewa is extremely flexible and you can add whatever dried fruits you prefer.
9. Borani Banjan
Borani banjan is an eggplant dish that is served with yoghurt and garlic. The first time you eat it, you will fall in love instantly. It may take some time to make, but it is definitely worth it.
Cayenne pepper can be sprinkled on top to make is more visually appealing and to enhance the taste. The fresh and spicy aroma of the dish is what makes it one of Afghans’ most favorite dishes.
Gosh-e-fil looks like a fried sweet pastry. The dough is shaped in a very unique and creative way. The most skilled bakers put a lot of effort into making this dish visually appealing and super tasty. Each piece is individually topped with pistachios and powdered sugar for an extra touch of sweetness. It is usually served on special occasions such as parties and family gatherings.
Mastawa is a delicious rice dish commonly made in the winter. It generally contains small grains of rice along with sun-dried mutton. Bitter orange peel and spices are added when serving to make the dish more fragrant and spicy.
Mastawa can also be cooked with other dried meats such as the Afghan ghost-e-qaqh, while a final touch of quroot, a type of Afghani cheese made from strained, salted, and dried yoghurt, is also added.
Quroot is a kind of cheese made from the by-product of the butter-making process. Sheep or goat’s milk is stored at room temperature for a few days and filtered through a cheesecloth to separate it from the liquid and then formed into small balls. It is serve as a side to many popular Afghani dishes such as Ashak, Mantu, or Qeshla.
13. Sheer Khurma
The most popular Afghani sweet dish is sheer khurma. It is commonly prepared by Muslims on special occasions or festivals such as Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid al-Azha. The dish consists of vermicelli, milk, and various dried fruits, depending on the region.
Sheer khurma is usually served for breakfast on the first day of Eid al-Adha after Eid prayers and given to guests throughout the day. The rich taste of sheer khurma makes these happy occasions very special.
14. Osh Pyozee
Osh pyozee is a unique Afghani dish that consists of onions stuffed with meat. The onions are first boiled, to soften them, and they are stuffed with a meat mixture. They can also contain feta made from goat’s milk, giving a strong, rich taste.
It is a very popular traditional dishes that is made only occasionally due to the effort involved.
Shomleh is a cool summer drink that is made with water, yoghurt, and fresh or dried mint. Many people like to add grated cucumber to make it even more refreshing. It is the second most common drink in Afghanistan (the first being tea).
Shomleh is very welcome at lunchtime during the summer as it is so refreshing in hot weather. It is often homemade but can be easily found in grocery stores and restaurants. Shomleh is also known as doogh in Afghanistan.
16. Roghani Naan
Roghani naan is a soft and fluffy flatbread that is made in a hot tandoor (clay oven). When cooked, the top is rubbed with butter to give it a deliciously shiny gloss. This naan is mostly eaten on special occasions along with a variety of BBQ foods. Roghani naan’s pillow-like texture makes everyone’s heart melt.
Bamiyah is a delicious traditional dish made with okra and onions or garlic. It is a vegan dish that is filled to the brim with nutrients. It is mostly eaten at lunchtime or at dinner as a main dish. Whether you eat it with pita bread or plain white rice, it always tastes divine. Adding pomegranate molasses to serve enhances the flavor and presentation of the dish.
Torshi is an Afghani salad that is commonly eaten as a side along with heavy meals. Most families think the table is incomplete without a bowl of torshi. It goes well with any main dish, especially rice, fried or grilled dishes, and BBQ food.
But don’t leave it to the last minute. This salad takes up to two months to prepare!
Aush is a well-known noodle soup that includes chickpeas and red beans along with a delicious sauce made with ground beef. It is considered one of the best comfort foods in Afghanistan due to its sweet and sour tastes.
This soup is eaten throughout the year, and always benefits from 1 or 2 spoonfuls of yoghurt and a sprinkle of mint on the top.
20. Afghan Burger
Burgers are the most popular street food all over the world and Afghani burgers really do top the list. They may look like rolls, but they have the quality and taste of a first-rate burger. Minced meat is cooked with a creamy tomato sauce for the classic burger taste. At many street stalls, you can watch the whole thing being cooked, from beginning to end, so you know what’s going into your burger.
With a focus on meats and legumes, Afghani food is a delicious and protein-filled diet. The simple flavors remind us of our Afghani ancestors, who believed “less is more” and who built a whole cuisine with a few key ingredients. So, which one do you want to try the most?