Afghanistan’s traditional food

Afghans are considered the worriers but do you know, they are hospitable people and expert in cooking unique dishes as well!

Kabuli Pulao: It is the national dish of Afghanistan. It is not famous even in Afghanistan but every Afghan living outside of the country love to eat Kabuli Pulao anywhere they find it. It is cooked at every house as it is the part of their lives.

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Mouth watering dish of Afghanistan the “Kabuli Palao” is on the table.

Preparation of Kabuli Pulao is very easy; it is steamed rice with chops of raisins and carrot. It is often served with lamb. Other variants of Pulao are also available in Afghanistan. People eat it with meat, vegetables or beans. Girls are taught to cook Kabuli Pulao before the marriage because it be a considered a shame if she does not know cooking Kabuli Pulao.

In the UAE every Afghan restaurant has the Kabuli Pulao on their tables. The cashier of Al Afghan Al Kabab, Abdul Jabbar says people across the world like Kabuli Pulao. We have Asian, Middle Eastern customers. The prices of the food in our restaurants are fair so people from every sphere of life can afford our food. Jabbar says that due to flexible prices and good quality of food our business got spread all over the UAE. They have a wide range of restaurants in the every state of the UAE. Arab locals are fan of eating Kabuli Pulao so they come to have their dinner in our restaurants. He added.

Kababs: Lamb kabab is also one of the favorite foods of Afghans. Afghan Kabab is mostly served with Naan, and rice. Lamb chops, ribs, kofta (ground beef) and chicken kababs are served in good Kabul restaurants in the UAE. Chapli Kabab and Sekh Boti Kababs are consumed widely among the people belonging to every nationalities.

Saji Kabab: Saaji Kabab is equally famous traditional food of Baloch and Pashton population living in Afghanistan and Balochistan. It is made up of goat, sheep meat. Before putting the meat on steaks, rub some salt, lemon juice and black paper on the meat. They do not use any cooking oil to cook Saji Kabab but white meat on the top of the steak which melts due to the heat and provides natural oil for Kabab. Burn some dry woods at both sides of the meat; put the steaks of the meat between the fire. Slowly and gradually the heat makes cook the Saji. When the fire is turned into ashes drag the ashes near the meat which makes it further delicious. It is cooked on special occasions such as Eid and wedding events.

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One of the delicious and famous food “Saji” is being cooked.

Qorma: Qormas is also one of the very special dishes of Afghan. Qorma is cooked twice a week in the kitchen. Fry the unions in the cooking oil, after that put required amount of tomatoes and make them cook for a while then add meats, spices or vegetables to them. Shorma: Soups made of variety of items are very popular in Afghanistan. These soups are locally known as shorma.

Afghan Breads: Usually, Afghans consume four types of breads. These breads are locally called Naan, Obi Naan and Lavash. Naan is made of wheat and is thin, long and oval shaped. Obi Naan is shaped like a disk and is thicker than naan. Lavash is very thin bread and used as plating for meats and stews. Kak bread is also famous in Baloch population. It is made up of wheat. They put a ball like stone on the fire, when it gets extremely hot, wrap the wet flour on the hot stone then put it near the ashes. After some time serve it. It is will not be expired for more than a week. People cook it at picnics, arrival of special guests and cultural events.

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A famous dish of Baloch and Afghan called “Saji” is being served.

Rice Dishes: Afghans put in plenty of time and effort to prepare their rice dishes. One popular rice dish is chalow.. Chalow is fluffy white rice with each grain separated. The Afghans love to eat chalow with Qormas.

Fruits & Nuts: Fresh and dried fruits are inseparable part of Afghan food. Afghanistan produces high quality fruits particularly grapes, apricots, pomegranates, melons, plums and berries. Exceptional varieties of oranges also grow in Afghanistan. Melons of Mazar-e-Sharif, oranges of Jalalabad, grapes and pomegranates of Kandahar are famous.

Dairy Products: The Afghans like dairy products like yogurt and Lassi. Lassi is a sort of thin yogurt which is served with the lunch and dinner. It is also called Desi Sharab (urban drinking). Eating is uncompleted without having Lassi witt it.

Drinks: Common drink in Afghanistan is tea (chai). Green tea is considered the Desi Pepsi. Green tea is very healthy and people love to start their breakfast with Prata and green tea. It is also served after the meal because it helps the digesting the food in very short period of time.

Afghan people are fond of non-vegetarian dishes. Usually they don’t use cutlery. Food is gulped with right hand, using nan as scoop. The Afghans treat their guests with great respect and try to serve their guests with as good food as they can provide. Sharing stories of the past and gossips are the essential part of the evening gathering. Every night people assemble at one place, they exchange ideas and discuss their whole day doings. Instead of watching movies they watch news bulletins, debates and talk shows on TV and instead of listening songs on the radio they usually listen news, hot talks and programs. Women do not sit with the men often; they gather at one room, have their lunch and dinner and talk their daily life issues and problems. If there are no any men at home women serve the guests and supervise the house.

By: Qurban

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A day in the life of an Afghan baker in the U.A.E

Cooking bread in extreme hot climate, a tough job

“Break an egg, put few drops of cooking oil in a pan and leave it in the sun; after an hour you will be able to have an omelet.”

Those expats who come from cold climates initially face difficulties adjusting to the hot environment of United Arab Emirates (UAE).

However for Abdul Nasir it makes no difference according to him he has been playing with the fire in bakery back in his native country, Afghanistan. He continues to do the same in the UAE.

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Afghan baker rolls fresh bread for customers.

The temperature of UAE goes above 45 Celsius with humidity of 35%. It is nearly impossible to stay for few minutes without shelter outdoor in UAE but at this extremely hot climate Afghan Bakery men work not in A/C but near the flames.

Abdul Nasir is now familiar with the hot weather. “Any job is not easy; you have to work hard to feed your family. People do jobs in government and public sectors where they face different kind of situation but here we have our own business. When you are an employee you have to wait for leave permission after a year or two but here we all close relatives are working and if God forbid anything happened to our families back to country we can go within the next day. It is very good to have our own business.” says Nasir.

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A young Afghan baker puts chapati in the oven (tandoor).

Another baker, Abdul Karim also works in the same shop, he says “before closing the shop we make ready the wet floor for bread. We put floor in a big tub, put water and mix it with an electronic mixture machine, when it is ready we make small piece for the bread in the morning.”

When asked that how many kinds of bread or Naan he knows to cook and is there any particular flavor or quality which the people like to eat? He says there are two types of bread one is called Naan-roti and second is known as Chapati  but if the customers want to make it special, we put cheese on it which makes it very tasty. This kind of bread is 1 AED expensive then the normal bread. Most of families buy it in the morning time for breakfast of their school kids. Both types are consumed by Asians and Middle Eastern people- Arabs, Pakistanis, Afghanistan, Indians and Iranian constitute a large chunk of the customers. Karim says,

Work flow and delivery

Bakers cover about 3km to 5km radius area to deliver bread. “Working people can’t visit our shop to buy the bread so we deliver bread to their doors. In Afghanistan, we send our children to buy household stuffs but it is very different in UAE. Here children are busy at schools and their parents are working so they even do not have time for grocery shopping. Three people from our staff does the delivery and rest of them work in the shop. We need at least three stay at shop, one of them prepares and measures the bread, second one cooks it on fire (put the bread in tandoor) and third one is the cashier who collects the money and deal with the customers.” says Karim.

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Fresh dough balls ready for baking.

Expired bread

“When there is any expired bread we gather it and sell it to the cattle merchants. They give it to their cattle. It makes the cattle very healthy and increases the milking power. The dry bread is consumed mostly by cows and buffalos. Sheep and goats are also fan of eating dry bread,” says Abdul Nasir who owns a bakery shop in Sharjah for over 18 years.

He says there is no sufficient profit selling the dry bread but we can’t through the bread in dust bin as well.

Abdul Nasir wants to extend his business across Dubai in coming years. He is willing to call his cousins and close relatives to join him in bakery business.

By: Qurban