Gourmet corner from Arlene Rafiq’s kitchen

by Arlene Rafiq
gourmet-kebab

Since the time of the cavemen and immediately after they discovered how
to make a fire, they have learned to eat kebab. The basic idea of meat and
fire have not changed but the process of marination has evolved which
makes a big difference.

 

In my various visits to Afghanistan, I have noticed the many stalls cooking kebab. They are in every nook and cranny of Kabul. Out of curiosity and smelling the aroma of freshly cooked kebab, I went to one of the stalls and ordered a few to take home. It was the best barbecued meat that I have ever tasted. Naturally, as a food enthusiast, I did not wait long to find out the recipe of this mouthwatering dish. A long time cook of my husband’s family came into the picture as he wished to show me also his cooking prowess. He also said that the Afghans are basically carnivorous. The locals eat mostly kebab with rice, kebab with bread and more of the legendary kebab of a different kind.

It’s one of their favourite dishes. You will see them always on every Afghan table during special occasions but most of the time during picnics. He showed me the basic marination and tips on how to best grill the kebabs which I am sharing with you. by Arlene Rafiq Since the time of the cavemen and immediately after they discovered how to make a fire, they have learned to eat kebab. The basic idea of meat and fire have not changed but the process of marination has evolved which makes a big difference. First of all,

1. Charcoal grill is the best.
2. Use flat skewers as the meat stays flat and when turning the skewer, the meat stays with the skewer.
3. Make sure that the meat doesn’t touch the grill leaving an inch above the surface of the grill Afghan kebab
Ingredients:
5lbs lamb breast or chicken fats removed and cut the meat one inch cubes
1 pc fresh ginger, peeled and cut about 2 inches long
5 cloves garlic
1 cup oil
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 large bell pepper (seeds removed)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Procedure:
In a large bowl, put the lamb pieces, set aside. In a blender, place the ginger, garlic, bell peppers and blend till liquid. Pour the liquid over the lamb, add oil and the rest of the spices. Mix well, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before grilling. Start up your grill till hot. Take about 6 or 7 pieces of the marinated lamb, stick into the skewer, place the skewer on the hot grill and turn them over every 6 or 10 minutes (to cook the lamb evenly) until they are done.

Serve the kebab with pita or Afghan bread (if available), Afghan salad of cucumber with yogurt mint or chutney. Some of the best Afghan meat dishes requires considerable effort and time to prepare because of its various spice preparation. I do not buy prepared mixes. I prepare the mix from scratch as I can be assured of its freshness. One of the best stew dishes which I learned from a cousin in law is easier to make and the taste makes you want to eat more. Likewise, instead of animal fat, I use olive oil as it makes me feel healthier.

gourmet-chicken korma

 

Chicken qorma
Ingredients:
1 kilo of chicken drumstick
1 large onion, sliced
1 pc. ginger about the length of your thumb sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 large potato, cut into cubes
1 small can of tomato paste
olive oil
2 tbsp turmeric powder
salt and pepper to taste
12 pcs of whole red chilli
Procedure:
Pour oil in a large skillet or wok. Put the ginger to fry, add garlic and onion. When onion turned transparent, add the chicken and the turmeric powder. Mix until the chicken is slightly brown. When browned, add the tomato paste and a bit of water to the chicken. Mix well. It’s not supposed to be watery. Let it simmer for at least 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer until cooked. When the chicken and potatoes are done, add the whole chilli pieces and simmer for a few minutes. Add the cilantro and serve with plain rice. Our Afghan spread will not be complete without dessert.

The good news is they are so easy to make and are finger licking good. Most of these desserts are served along with traditional tea with cardamom. One of the best Afghan desserts is a rose scented pudding called Firni. Firni can be
found in countries that were once part of the Mogul empire but the Afghans have made their signature on their own version of this pudding.
Ingredients:
4 cups of milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 to 1/2 tsp of ground cardamom
1/4 tsp of saffron thread
1/4 cup finely chopped pistachio
2 tsp rosewater
Procedure:
Pour the milk except for 1/2 cup into a medium size saucepan. Take the remaining 1/2 and mix with 1/2 cup cornstarch. Add the milk and cornstarch into the pan with the rest of the milk. Over medium heat, stir the mixture constantly until it thickens. Add the almonds and keep stirring until mixture thickens and bubbles. Add cardamom and rosewater and stir. Turn heat to low and cook for ten minutes. Stir occasionally.

Pour into a platter spreading evenly. Sprinkle pistachio and cardamom on top. Refrigerate and serve cold. This ends our gourmet Afghan spread which you can prepare with ease to your friends. They will surely love the exotic flavour of these dishes. Most of the ingredients can be found at India Town in Pahurat or Spices are us on Sukhumvit Soi 20. Good luck please feel free to send me feedback. [email protected]

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