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Rich culture, delicious food and stories from Afghanistan

January 29, 2012

Cultivation to the mind is as necessary as food to the body. Marcus Tullius Cicero

Afghanistan has a wide varying landscape allowing for many different crops. Afghan food is largely based upon cereals like wheat, maize, barley and rice, which are the nation’s chief crops. Afghanistan is well known for its grapes.

The Anthropology of Food is an analysis of food in culture.  While the primary purpose for food is nutrition, it also has a cultural dimension by which people choose what they eat not only by flavor or nutritional value but by cultural, religious, economic, status and environmental factors.  – These pages are a supplement to Anthropology of Food, Food Science and are a collection of sampler recipes providing only a taste of each country and perhaps some information about the history and culture behind each cuisine.  

Due to the nature of the topic, some selected sites may have a commercial element as well as excellent information.

Popular Afghan dishes:

  • Palao (Traditional Rice dish)
  • Mosh Palao
  • Shorba (Afghan Soup)
  • Do Pyaza
  • Mantu (Meat dumplings)
  • Kofta (Meatballs)
  • Kichiri
  • Qorma Sabzi
  • Baunjan (cooked Eggplant w/Potatoes and Tomatoes)
  • Bendee/Baumya (cooked Okra w/Potatoes and Tomatoes)
  • Heeknusb (Hummus)
  • Ashak
  • Aush (hand made Noodles)
  • Baghlava
  • Bolani (Afghan Flat Bread or Crêpe)
  • Chapli Kabab
  • Shor-Nakhod (Chick Peas w/special toppings)
  • Naan (Afghan Bread)
  • Afghan desserts:
    • Gosh Feel (Pastries)
    • Halwa
    • Shir Berinj (Rice Pudding)
    • Ferni
    • Kadu Bouranee (Sweet Pumpkins)
    • Jelabi
    • Maleeda, Khajoor

The type of food served in Afghan cuisine is quite unique. It has been well documented that the foods, tastes and spices of Afghan food are a rather tasteful blend of the regions that surround Afghanistan. Unlike food from it’s neighbors to the east, the spices used in Afghan dishes, are neither too hot nor pungent, and in contrast to it’s western neighbors, Afghan food is not bland. In fact may western travelers find the foods of Afghanistan a perfect blend of exoticness and good taste.

Cooking and food has a very important role in Afghan culture. Unexpected guests might be seen as rude or an imposition in western culture, but not in Afghan culture. Guests are revered and even in families, people often just drop in with little or no notice and to not have food for them would be unheard of even in the most spur of the moment situations. Coming away from an Afghan table hungry is simply never happens, no matter how little preparation time the host has.

The types off food served are also symbolic for example Qaabuli Pallow is the crown of Afghan cooking and served to special guests or on special occasions such as weddings. Letee is served to new mothers because of its easy on the stomach yet high nutritive value. Dogh is best enjoyed on a hot summer’s day and Mahi is served during Nowroz (New Year). Even eggs are prepared in a special way so that a guest is well nourished when they wake up. Afghans also believe food is elemental in nature, and can produce hot or cold, or be neutral in the body. Food is well appreciated and even has special meaning as stepping on a piece of dropped bread is considered sinful.

Afghans take great pride in their cooking and are very happy to see everyone full and satisfied. Afghan cooking is not about exact measurements, and many of the ingredients can be substituted to achieve a similar taste. The amounts of all of the spices can be adjusted to suit your individual tastes. No two Afghans prepare the same dish exactly the same. Creativity is another element that contributes to the wonderful medley of flavors that make up Afghan cooking. Prepare these recipes with love and Nosh-e- Jaan, or good eating.

 Find More About Co-Related Afghanistan Culture Food

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