Afghanistan – What a wild place to start!


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Unusual Fact: The New Year in Afghanistan, called Nawroz, is celebrated on 21 March which is the first day of spring.

Well, what would you expect from Afghanistan? I was thinking something along the lines of flat bread and vegetables. This dish really surprised me.

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I have cooked Aush (Noodles with Pulses, Meat and Yoghurt).  It has a yoghurt noodle base with spinach and beans. Don’t be put of by the dough like noodle mixture, they turn out wonderfully, silky and perfect. Be carful not to undercook them. For dessert I cooked Brides Fingers (Asabia el Aroos). These are like baklava; just without the layers it is like a parcel of nuts and sugar. The lemon syrup balances it out nicely so it’s not too sweet but its still very runny. My brother, Angus, is such a fussy eater. That’s why we have decided to have an Angus rating. He is about as fussy as fussy can get, so if something gets a high score from Angus its probably alright.

8402133757_f24c82cec8_bMAIN

Mum: 9/10

Dad: 8/10

Angus: 6/10

DESSERT

Mum: 7

Dad: 7

Angus: 9

Aush (Noodles with Pulses, Meat and Yoghurt)

Serves: 6 Cooking time: 1 to 1-1/4 hours

Ingredients

Aush Noodles

    • 2 c Plain flour
    • 1 ts Salt
    • 2/3 c Cold water
    • Additional flour

Pules and Noodle Mixture

    • 1/2 c Yellow split peas – (daul nakhud)
    • Cold water
    • 1 c Canned kidney beans w/liquid
    • Salt
    • 1 tb Oil
    • 2 c Finely chopped spinach

Meat Sauce

    • 1/2 c Oil
    • 1 Medium onion; finely chopped
    • 750 g Ground lamb or beef
    • Salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1/2 c Tomato puree
    • 1/2 c Water

Chakah(Yogurt Sauce)

    • 1 1/2 c Drained yogurt
    • 3 ts Dried mint; rubbed
    • 1/4 ts Hot chili pepper (or more)
    • 1/4 c Finely chopped coriander
    • Salt to taste

Directions
On a floured board roll out each ball of dough very thinly. Cut into 5 mm (1/4-inch) strips either while it is flat or by rolling up each sheet of dough and slicing with a sharp knife. Place noodles on a floured cloth, dust with flour and leave to dry for about 30 minutes.Sift flour and salt into a bowl, add water and mix to a firm dough, adding more flour if necessary. Divide into 2 balls and wrap  in plastic. Rest for 30 minutes.

Wash split peas well and place in a pan with 1-1/2 cups cold water. Bring to the boil and boil gently for 30 minutes or until tender. Add red beans and liquid and keep warm. In a large pot bring 8 cups water to the boil, add 2 teaspoons salt, oil and noodles. Put noodles in gradually, stirring after each addition. Return to the boil and cook uncovered for 5 minutes.

Add spinach and cook for further 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and return to the pot. Add split peas and bean mixture with its liquid, toss ingredients lightly and keep hot over low heat.

In a frying pan heat the 1/2 cup oil, fry onion until soft and add ground meat. Stir over high heat until juices evaporate and meat browns lightly. Add salt and pepper to taste, tomato puree, spices and water, cover and simmer 10 minutes, then remove cover and let moisture evaporate. Sauce should be oily. Combine chakah ingredients, add to noodles and toss well. Mixture should be moist. Place noodle mixture in a deep dish and top with keema. Stir at the table and serve in deep plates.

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Brides Fingers (Asabia el Aroos)

Ingredients

      • Sweet Syrup: (See recipe below)
      • 1/2 package (16 oz.) frozen filo dough, completely defrosted
      • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (optional)

Filling

    • 1/2 cup almonds or pistachios, pulverized in food processor with
    • 1/3 cup sugar

Glaze

    • 1 egg, beaten
    • sugar

Directions 

Prepare the syrup in advance and chill in the refrigerator.

    1. Combine the filling ingredients.
    2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 1 or 2 baking sheets.
    3. Cut the filo in half crosswise and again in half, stacking the covering with a slightly dampened towel to prevent drying. Lay 2 rectangles on your work surface with the shorter sides facing you, and brush lightly with melted butter.
    4. Place a rounded tablespoon of the filling in a line across the shorter side of filo that faces you. Fold the longer edges of the pastry inward, sealing in the sides of the filling, and roll the pastry up from the short side, forming a fat cigar shape. Place on the baking sheet with the cut edge down. Repeat with remaining dough.
    5. Brush the tops of the pastries lightly with a bit of beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
    6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
    7. Dip the warm fingers into cool Sweet Syrup and arrange on a serving tray. Serve at room temperature.

Syrup

The general rule for syrup is to pour hot syrup over cold (or room temperature) pastries and to serve cold syrup over hot pastries.

In some areas, eating syrup and honey is superstitiously believed to ward off the djinn (evil spirits) and to make life sweeter.

    • 3 cups sugar
    • 1-1/2 cups water
    • 1 lemon
    • 1 tbsp. orange-blossom water or rosewater
  1. Boil the sugar with the water until dissolved and viscous, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and remove from the heat.

Brides fingers

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