Chorba to Sheer Yakh: A culinary revelation in Afghanistan

Landing in Kabul, you can’t assist thinking you’re touchdown in the uppity slum. This is Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar. That’s appropriate because that’s where Delhi’s large Afghan ex-pat network is focused, and that’s where my first publicity of Afghan cuisine started. The point of the ride is to evaluate Afghan meals to Indians because much of Mughlai cuisine allegedly has roots in Afghan, Turkic, or Persian origins. But that’s where matters start getting awry.

When we find out that fake Indian food and Afghan Chinese are the staples here, every eating place worth its monosodium glutamate has a ‘candy corn soup,’ a far less suitable for eating one you get in India reinforced by double the cornflour, plus chowmein and achari bird. Blah! Ok, this has to be an aberration, I say to myself and boldly pass on the kababs and Kabuli law.

There’s nearly nothing to distinguish it from the Iranian Kebab. To my horror, the Lajpat Nagar Kababs are faux, given their marination in hundreds of ginger garlic and yogurt, which isn’t the norm in Afghanistan. Surprisingly, the Kabuli below, the equal combination of meat, carrots, rice raisins, and cumin that I’d had in Uzbekistan the previous year (evidently referred to as the Uzbeki Palow there), is likewise much higher in Delhi; the parboiled rice so critical for that fluffy finish being absent in Afghanistan.

I positioned this to high expectations; however, repeated food in Kabul yields equal disappointing outcomes at a road dealer restaurant. However, the culmination and veggies in Afghanistan are pretty super; however, like most Afghan girls, they’re saved, hidden away at home, and make no appearance on any menu everywhere, save the occasional Western Café.

The first big culinary revelation, true and indigenous to Afghanistan, is available in Mazar-I-Sharif, in the historical fortress of Balkh. A flourishing Buddhist metropolis as soon as upon a time named Bactria with the aid of Alexander, the lonely, nonetheless fantastic fortress became domestic to Alexander’s spouse, Roxanne. It also turned into where Zoroaster lived and died. My guide insisted I try the “local specialty,” and so, evidently, as one does in Afghanistan, walked me into a weed den, the air redolent with the perfume of smoked hashish.

Since everybody became puffing from the same pipe, I left it out on hygiene grounds. Sadly, in this location, your selections are both hash and hash. Stopping at the stunning Nau-Gumbad (or nine domed mosques, the first mosque ever constructed in that us of inside the 900s, it’s far built at the site of a Buddhist stupa, which became at some point a Zoroastrian fireplace altar), the captivating vintage caretaker invites us for a “snack” to his residence.

Over coronary heartbreaking stories of ways he lost his entire family at some stage in the civil conflict, he chose either smoked hash or hash cookies. A bit trapped, one is forced to strive for the latter because it does not seem like a good concept. The excessive sets in hastily, and the whole thing starts seeming humorous, be it the Afghan police and army guys coming in to get a hash cookie from caretaker grandpa or even the sheer terror of the occasional Taliban checkpoint on our way returned to Mazar.

An experience of the lovely rock-cut Buddhist viharas of Samangan tomorrow yields no other surprise: the first authentic Afghan soup. In a metropolis known as Aybak, the city from which Qutbuddin, the primary Mamluk Sultan of Delhi and lieutenant of Muhammad Ghori, followed his call. Called chorba sincerely, this became a unique Afghan version of Kadhi: a soured yogurt cooked slowly into a delicious broth flavored with salt.

Into this became dunked a few scrumptious hand-crafted noodles and changed into topped off with a paste of tomatoes and onion fried in ubiquitous lamb fat. This is supplemented using the high-quality “falafel,” or, as we Tamils call it, “part vada,” sold warm from a road seller. The combination is the winner – much like the dumplings in the Kadhi, simply better dumplings and a less spiced kadhi. This fine dish also got here with the facet amusement of a Taliban truck flying through the town, now and then capturing bullets in the air a few hundred yards from us. The Afghans you spot understand how to set up a selection amusement lunch show.

The flight to Herat brings approximately greater of the same – insipid kababs and below. But the huge marvel comes at a desert time. Cardamom is the Vanilla of Afghanistan (and arguably many of South Asia). At the same time, as we bite on a few delightful neighborhood cardamom-flavored chewing gum, we watch for the hand-crafted ice cream referred to as Shir Yakh; this dish is specific. This isn’t soft creamy Italian gelato; neither is it a granular sorbet. It’s simply now not the semifreddo we name kulfi in India, nor is it the silky easy Bassani of Iran.

Sheer Yakh is Sheer Yakh, and to evaluate it to something else is pointless. Fresh green pistachio paste is mixed with fresh milk and frozen in front of your eyes in steel boxes dunked in a combination of ice and salt to decrease the freezing factor, just like the traditional ice cream churner. The difference is available in what happens after. The Afghans mash it with huge spatulas right into a deliciously smooth paste that is like no texture you’ve had before.

One flavor of this manna, and you know it isn’t that horrendous Italian inexperienced-colored almond ice cream passed off as pistachio. Oh no, this is simply rich, creamy pistachio served with a dollop of white cardamom ice cream. Bingo! Hit the jackpot! That ice cream alone became well worth the Taliban checkpoints, hair-raising conversations with men with AK-47s and rocket launchers, and the dreadful 6-hour flight from Delhi.


I love cooking and eating food. I always look for new recipes, new foods, and new restaurants. I just love food! My goal is to post interesting and delicious food and share recipes with the world. I have a passion for all types of food; especially Asian cuisine.