I started off the new year fully prepared to swear off cooking forever. I don't have the time or the energy,and no one here wants to eat what I want to cook. But then after a trip to Costco where I invested in a ridiculously generous supply of every staple I could think of, I realized I had everything I needed to try nearly every single recipe in my collection of Afghani recipes. Surely the stars don't align this way more than once in a lifetime! It was a sign. At first I thought I'd just try a few simple selections, but with each sip of coffee my dreams and delusions grew.
This is how I ended up slaving over a meticulous, labor-intensive dish of stuffed chicken cooked in rice the very first week of the year. It was dry and disappointing. A "bitter" meal for me. I had been sure something that complicated had to result in greatness. It was SO bloody dry, and all the fried almonds and raisins and orange peel in the world couldn't fix that.
However, there was a cauliflower stew I made as well which was quick, simple, and though never destined for greatness, I intend to make it all winter long. I tried it with beef stew meat and ground lamb. Both times it was really good. I served it with basmati rice because we eat everything with rice, but I suppose it could go with anything you like. There is nothing in the stew which screams "Afghani!", so it would be equally at home with naan or mashed potatoes.
Happy New Year!
1-2 chopped onions
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound of stew meat, either lamb or beef
2 teaspoons ground coriander OR 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves chopped garlic
1-1/2 teaspoons split peas
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
salt and pepper
1 large head of cauliflower cut into florets
In a large pot heat the oil and sauté the onions until they are golden brown. Add the meat, a little bit of salt, and allow the meat to brown a little. Stir in the coriander or tomato paste, the garlic, the split peas, the turmeric, and some salt and pepper. Add just enough water to barely cover the meat. Bring it up to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until the meat is tender. Add the cauliflower, and when that is tender too season to taste with salt and pepper.
Maybe this is an odd recipe to post on Memorial Day weekend, when everyone in their right mind is either camping or grilling. This recipe is so simple I almost didn't post it, but after some thought I decided that was the charm. It really is easy. The yogurt gives the stew a nice tangy flavor, and next time I'd like to try this with cream instead of the yogurt. I'd also like to try some more exciting Afghani dishes, but this was easy on a weekday and great served with rice and a roasted vegetable. According to Helen Saberi in Afghan Food & Cookery, this dish can be made with chicken as well without sacrificing authenticity although I plan on doing just that when I try this with cream next time. You can make this ahead of time and reheat it right before dinner.
I have eaten amazing Afghani food and ho-hum Afghani food, but I am hoping to find the great recipes in Helen Saberi's book. Her vegetables call for vegetable oil, but I use a blend of equal parts olive oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil. I bet that the traditional cooking fat was lamb fat, but that is impossible to find. Some day...
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 cup of oil
1 pound of boneless lamb or chicken
1 tablespoon on tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
2 whole cardamom pods
salt and pepper
3/4 cup full fat yogurt
P.S. My husband deserves full credit for the cream idea. I'll post an update once we try it.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!