top of page
Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • CDR Facebook page
  • CDR Twitter Page
  • CDR Instagram page

Spotlight on Culture

People that call this area Home

New Americans

Refugees from other areas of the world

The Afghan people

Cultural Profile of their country of origin- Afghanistan

Afghan cuisine

Afghan cuisine (Pashto: افغان پخلی, romanized: Afghan Pakhlai, Dari: آشپزی افغانی, romanized: Āshpazi-e Afghāni) is influenced by Persian, Central Asian and Indian cuisines due to their close proximity and cultural ties. It is mainly based on their main crops: wheat, maize, barley, and rice. Accompanying these staple grains are native fruits, vegetables, and dairy products such as milk, yogurt and whey, pomegranates, grapes, and sweet melons.

Most of the people's diet revolve around rice-based dishes, and naan bread is consumed with most meals. Tea is generally consumed daily, in large quantities, and is a major part of hospitality. The culinary specialties reflect the nation's ethnic and geographic diversity.

Afghan dumplings and Naan

The national dish of Afghanistan is Kabuli pulao, a rice dish cooked with raisins, carrots, nuts and lamb or beef. The cuisine of Afghanistan has elements from various places, chilies or garam masala from India, coriander and mint from Iran, dumplings and noodles from Uzbekistan and China, kebabs from Turkey and Arabia, and pulao from Central Asia. Similarities can also be seen in the use of spices like cumin and cinnamon (as in Indian cuisine), green cardamom flavors (as in Chinese tea), and kebabs and yoghurts (as in Turkish and Arabic cuisines).

Traditionally, dinners are held on a tablecloth on the floor, called dastarkhan. Meals are normally eaten with the right hand. After a meal, tea with dessert is served. Serving tea and white sugared almonds (called nuql) is customary during Afghan festivals.

Staple foods- Rice and bread

Rice is a core staple food in Afghan cuisine and the most important part of any meal. Challow, or white rice cooked with spices, is served mainly with qormas ( also spelled korma: stew or casserole).

Pulao is cooked similarly to challow, but a combination of meat, stock and herbs are also mixed in before baking, resulting in the elaborate colors, flavors, and aromas that gave it its name. Sometimes caramelized sugar is used to give the rice a rich brown color. in Kabuli pulao, meat and stock are added along with a topping of fried raisins, slivered carrots, and pistachios.

Afghan food platter

Naan is a type of flat-bread cooked in an oven made from a hole in the ground. The bread is slapped onto a stone wall to cook. Other varieties include naan-e-Afghan/naan-e-tandoori (a type of Afghan bread cooked in a vertical ground clay oven or a tandoor) and naan-e-tawagy (flatbread cooked on a flat pan), among others.

Major dishes- Steamed dumplings, Qormah, Kabob, Murgh Afghani (chicken), and Quroot

There is a wide variety of dumplings made in Afghan cuisine. Known under the name khameerbob, these native dishes are very popular. Because it takes a long time to make the dough, they are rarely served at large gatherings such as weddings. Instead, they are usually served on special occasions at home. Examples are Aushak – dumplings filled with a mixture consisting mainly of leeks, topped with either garlic-mint qoroot or a garlic yogurt sauce, sautéed tomatoes, red kidney beans, and a ground-meat mixture (the dish is associated with Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan); and Mantu – steamed dumplings filled with onion and ground beef or lamb, usually topped with a tomato- and yogurt- or qoroot-based sauce and then garnished with dried mint and coriander (The yogurt-based topping is usually a mixture of yogurt, garlic, and split chickpeas. The qoroot-based sauce is made of goat's cheese and also mixed with garlic, a qoroot and yogurt mixture will sometimes also be used).


Qormah (also spelled "korma" or "qorma") is an onion- and tomato-based stew or casserole usually served with challow rice. First, onion is caramelized, for a richly colored stew. Then tomato is added, along with a variety of fruits, spices, and vegetables, depending on the recipe. The main ingredient, which can be meat or other vegetables, is added last. There are hundreds of different types of qormahs. Some examples are Qormah e gosht (meat qormah) – usually the main qormah served with pulao at gatherings; Qormah e alou-bokhara wa dalnakhod – onion-based using veal or chicken, sour plums, lentils, and cardamom; Qormah e nadroo – onion-based, using lamb meat or veal, yogurt, lotus roots, cilantro, and coriander; Qormah e lawand – onion-based, using chicken plus yogurt, turmeric, and cilantro; Qormah e sabzi – sautéed spinach, and other greens, sometimes with meat but also eaten as a vegetarian dish; and Qormah e shalgham – onion-based using lamb, turnips, and sugar (it has a distinct sweet and sour taste).

Mixed Kabob plate

The Afghan kabob is most often found in restaurants and at outdoor street vendor stalls. It is usually made with lamb meat. Kabob is served with naan instead of rice. Customers have the option to sprinkle sumac or ghora (dried ground sour grapes) on their kabob. Pieces of fat from the sheep's tail (jijeq) are usually added to the skewers to add extra flavor. Other popular kabobs include the lamb chop, ribs, kofta (ground beef), and chicken. A good example is Chapli kabob, a specialty of eastern Afghanistan, a patty of minced beef and spices that resembles an American burger in shape. It is a popular barbecue meal in both Pakistan and Afghanistan prepared flat and round and served with naan with various toppings, usually tomatoes. The original recipe is a half meat, half flour mixture which renders it lighter in taste and less expensive.

Afghan chicken or Murgh Afghani is a classic example of one of the most famous dishes of Afghanistan. Chicken dishes are usually found in restaurants and at outdoor street vendor stalls. Chicken in Afghan cuisine is often used with the intention that it be halal. Cream, butter, and curd are customary ingredients in all chicken recipes, whether served as an appetizer or a main course.

Quroot (or qoroot) is a reconstituted dairy product, traditionally a by-product of butter made from sheep or goat's milk. The residual buttermilk remaining after churning butter is soured further (by keeping it at room temperature for a few days), then seasoned with salt, and eventually boiled. The precipitated casein is filtered through cheesecloth, pressed in order to remove liquid, and then shaped into balls. The finished product is a hard and very sour cottage cheese. It can be eaten raw as a savory snack, but it is typically served with cooked Afghan dishes such as aushak, mantu, and kichri qoroot.

Other examples of savory and sweet dishes are, but not limited to, Afghan Kofta (meatball); Afghan salad; Afghani burger; Aush (hand-made noodles); Bichak (small turnovers with various fillings, including potato and herbs, or ground meat); Dolmas (stuffed peppers); Londi, or gusht-e-qaaq (spiced jerky); Kichri (sticky medium-grain rice cooked with mung beans and onions); Badenjan (cooked eggplant dip topped with a garlic sour cream sauce and sprinkled with dried mint); Baamiyah (okra); Bolani (also called Buregian in southern Afghanistan, stuffed with a mix of potatoes, cilantro, and green peppers, but it can also be filled with pumpkin, red lentils, or chives. It is usually served with a green chutney and enjoyed as a side dish, or as a snack); Halwaua-e-Aurd-e-Sujee; Osh Pyozee (stuffed onions); Dumpukht (steamed rice); Bonjan Salad (spicy eggplant salad); Shour-Nakhod (chickpeas with mint sauce); Maast or labanyat (a type of plain yogurt mixture); Chakida or chakka (a type of sour

cream used to top other dishes); Shola Ghorbandi; Salata (tomato and onion-based salad, often also with cucumber); Gosh e feel (thin, fried pastries covered in powdered sugar and ground pistachios); Kaddo Borwani (pumpkins with yoghurt sauce); Mou-rubba (made with fruit sauce, sugar syrup and fruits such as apple, sour cherry or berries, or with dried fruits. One Afghan favorite is the Alu-Bakhara, or plums, one); Narenge Palau (also spelled Norinj, dried sweet orange peel and green raisins with a variety of nuts, mixed with yellow rice glazed with light sugar syrup); Torshi (vegetables mixed with herbs and spices, pickled in vinegar and aged); Khoujoor or Khajoor (Afghan pastry, deep-fried, oval-shaped, similar to doughnuts in taste); Afghan Chatni made with fresh coriander leaves; Kalah Chuquki or Kalah Gunjeshk (battered deep-fried bird heads); Kalah Pacha (lamb or beef head/feet cooked in a broth, served in bowls as a soup dish or in a stew or curry); Shami kabob (cooked beef blended with spices, flour, and eggs, and rolled into oblong shapes or flat round shapes and fried); Chopan (Pashto/Persian: چوپان, meaning "shepherd") kabob (Pashto/Persian: کباب) (lamb chops skewered and grilled on charcoal); Delda or Oagra (mainly a Southern dish, the main ingredient is a mixture of split wheat and a variety of beans); Owmach (it's a soup, very thick and full of vegetables); and Maushawa (mixed beans and tiny meatballs, served in a bowl).

There's also a great variety of dessert dishes, such as Afghan Cake (similar to pound cake, sometimes with real fruit or jelly inside); Fernea, sometimes spelled ferni, (very sweet pudding); a variety of cookies, baked in clay ovens with charcoal; Sheer Yakh, Sheer khurma, Sheer Berinj (rice pudding); Cream rolls (pastry); and Baklava (pastry)

Drinks: Doogh and tea

Doogh (also known by some Afghans as shomleh or shlombeh) is a cold drink made by mixing water with yogurt and then adding fresh or dried mint. Some variations of doogh include the addition of crushed or diced cucumber chunks. It is the second most widely consumed drink in Afghanistan (the first being tea), especially during lunchtime in summer. Doogh can be found at almost every Afghan grocery store and is served in restaurants.

Tea in Afghanistan is called chai, which can either be green or black. It is consumed at all times, especially a short time after finishing a meal or with guests during any social gathering. Most people drink green tea with no sugar. Some add saffron, sugar or cardamom. Sheer chai (which translates from "milk tea") is also consumed but mostly in the morning and on special occasions. It is a type of Kashmiri chai. Many people of Afghanistan also drink masala chai, particularly in cities such as Asadabad, Jalalabad, Khost and Kandahar.

In Fargo, you can try this wonderful cuisine at The Lantern International Restaurant- Afghani Specialty Food, 3001 13th Ave S. /(701) 793-1123.

Stay tuned for more information on more places and their people in future posts. Our area is blessed to be called home by many people of many cultures, and they deserve to be acknowledged.


bottom of page