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Afghanistan - Cooking and Food Edit
Overview of Afghan Cuisine HistoryEdit
Afghan Cuisine is a combination of both Middle Eastern Cuisine and South Asian Cuisine. Geographically this is quite logical as Afghanistan is situated directly between the Middle East and South Asia.
The British in India were twice invaders in the nineteenth century. Afghan dynasties, in their return, have flourished and at various times extended their influence to parts of Central Asia, India, Iran and even China. From the Khuhans, to the Ghaznaid sultans, to the Durrani ruler such spheres of influence have all in turn contributed to the rich patterns of culture, cuisine and civilization on general in Afghanistan. Afghanistan was also a crossroads on the ancient Silk Routes that connected Europe with the Far East. Traders and merchants from many countries traveled there, including the famous Venetian traveler, Marco Polo. All of this traffic brought in many imported items such as Chinese tea, and the Indian spices, all of which have had a tremendous effect and influence on the Afghan Cuisine.
The people of Afghanistan are meat lovers. There is normally always a meat mill found in the home of many Afghanis to grind meat for kofta keba. They have substituted the tandoor (a kind of stove) for the local fireside to cook their Kebabs. The popular Firni pudding for dessert is served on all auspicious occasions. Some Muslims call it Sirni and cook it in different ways from most of the other regions in Afghanistan.
The diet of the Afghanis was quite different from the Indian Muslims that stormed their country when the British had colonized India. However, eventually the authentic cuisine of the Afghans died as the sprinkle of Afghans interbred with the non-Afghan Muslims.
If you are thinking of exotic dining amid fragrant aromas and spices with a mysterious lure, then you will want to experience what Afghan Cuisine has to offer.
Chalau (rice) and Korma (sauce), Kebab (Chicken or Lamb), Naun/Nan (whole meal bread) or Lawash (whole meal flat bread) are commonly included in the cuisines of Afghanistan. Excellent tea is served traditionally after a long meal with dessert, mostly Baklava (paper-thin layers of honey-soaked pastry and walnuts) or Gosh-e-feel (fried pastry in the shape of an elephant’s ear, dusted with cardamom, Sugar and pistachios.)
The Cuisines of Afghanistan are commonly placed on a cloth that is spread over a carpet. Guests are usually given an individual bowl or plate. Afghans do not use any silverware crockery. Bread is used for scooping up soft foods. Bowls of raw vegetables, plenty of fresh fruit, salads, pickles and yogurt are prominently featured in Afghani Cuisine. If you are in Afghanistan, and are a guest at an Afghani person’s home, you would most definitely be expected to enjoy huge quantities of everything, including buttermilk, or the yogurt drink which is known as Dug.
The Afghan cuisine greatly resembles Indian curries and Pakistani staples. The chief difference however is that in Afghan Cuisine you will find more vegetables being used, as well as fresh fruits and nuts.
Finding the ingredients for an Afghan Recipe is not so easy when you do not know the names of the ingredients. Take time to make a list of ingredients and the name they may be found under at the Local Markets.
- Check out the Afghan Food Glossary
Preparation Methods for Afghan Cooking Edit
There are many methods of preparing an authentic Afghani meal. A few of the preparation methods are as follows:
Shallow frying: cooking food in a small amount of fat or oil in a frying pan. The presentation side of the food should be fried before as this side will have the better appearance as the fat is cleaned, then turned over so that both sides are cooked and coloured.
Deep frying: this form of frying is used to make crisp and textured food. Often, the food is deep fried, then removed from the oil and drained. The oil is commonly re-heated and the food is deep fried once more just so that it is extremely crispy.
Paper-wrapped deep- frying: when small pieces of meat or fish are seasoned, the food is wrapped in sheets that are made of glutinous rice flour. Cellophane paper sheet are also used sometimes, and then the dish is served in its paper wrapping.
Steaming: the Afghan cuisine is also steamed. It is great for when you are preparing an Afghani vegetable, fish or meat dish.
Roasting: you will find many recipes in the Afghanistan Cuisine that include the preparatory method of roasting fish and other varieties of meat.
Stewing: this is a time-honoured moist cooking method that transforms less tender cuts of meat, which are otherwise not suitable for quick-cooking methods.
Special Equipment for Afghan Cooking Edit
There is no special equipment that you would need to cook your Afghan cuisine, but a tandoor (which is a sort of a stove that is dug in a hole with fire lit underneath it) might be required for making the traditional Afghani Nann (whole Wheat bread). In a rather traditional Afghan style, a fire is lit and Kebabs or fish are grilled over charcoal. Therefore, grilling rods that we use for barbequing could be helpful. Non-stick pans and pots, which are readily available, might be a great idea to get. Moreover, having a deep-frying pan is essential for the recipes that require food to be deep-fried. In earlier times, the more adventurous cook would cook with a Pilau. Traditionally Afghani food is eaten with the fingers so no utensils are required. If you were a creative cook and an innovative host, then serving your Afghani cuisine on a large, flat, round wooden tray, which is known as the tabang, would be a great idea. Followed by Afghani Tea, traditionally brewed over a common stove. On the whole, most of the equipment mentioned here was and is still used in a traditional manner in Afghanistan; however, you can easily find the common cooking equipment to make your Afghani cuisine, as there is no special equipment that you would really require.
Afghan Food Traditions and Festivals Edit
Afghanistan has a long lineage of customs and festivals, celebrated in rich traditional style . There are some really interesting and vital aspects relating to food and cookery in the region of Afghanistan. Traditionally, the Afghani hospitality in Afghanistan is a code of honor. Although Afghanistan is a poor country, the best possible food is prepared for guests, even if the other members of the family have to go without eating. A guest is normally given a seat or the place of honor at the head of the room. To quench the guest’s thirst, tea is first brewed and served. While the guest is drinking and having a conversation with his host, all the women of the family are greatly involved in the preparation of food. The traditional mode of eating in Afghanistan is on the floor, where cushions known as toshak are laid on the beautiful carpets for which Afghanistan is famous. A large cloth or a thin mat known as the disterkhan is spread over the floor or the carpet before the dishes of food are brought.
Afghanistan is a Muslim country where religion plays a vital role. Afghans observe all religious days and festivals with great fervor. The two most important festivals are Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha. On these two festivals, special desserts, and scrumptious meat dishes are served. Another important day for the Afghans is the New Year, which is known as Nauroz in Afghanistan. Special dishes and food are prepared for the New Year, such as the kulcha Naurozee and miwa Naurozee. Nazer which is a kind of thanksgiving occasion is also celebrated in Afghanistan. On this day, Shola-e-shireen or Shola-e-zard, both sweet dishes are made. On the whole, the Afghans love an excuse for a party. Births, circumcisions, engagements and weddings are celebrated in a grand style, with great amount of food dishes and tasty desserts are prepared and served.
People in Afghan Food Edit
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