Grilled Leg of Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic, and Mustard

1 boneless leg of lamb, butterflied to even 2-inch thickness and trimmed of excess fat, about 6 pounds total
8 medium garlic cloves, peeled, divided
1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 lemon

Thinly slice 4 cloves of garlic. Spread lamb open on cutting board. Using tip of a paring knife, make 1/2-inch-deep slits all over lamb. Insert garlic slices into slits in lamb.

Combine remaining 4 cloves of garlic, mustard, olive oil, white wine, rosemary, and lemon juice in the workbowl of a food processor. Pulse until coarse puree forms.

Place lamb in a large shallow container and spread half of mustard mixture over top. Flip lamb and spread with remaining mustard mixture. Cover and let sit in refrigerator overnight.

Remove lamb from refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before grilling, allowing to come to room temperature. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill lamb over high heat until well seared, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until second side is seared and meat registers 130 degrees on an instant read thermometer inserted into thickest part of lamb, 8 to 10 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes. Slice and serve immediately.

Curried Cabbage

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup minced shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
12 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about 3 pounds)
1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add mustard, curry, and turmeric; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in cabbage and remaining ingredients; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

Baked Cardamom Rice Pudding

1/2 cup Calrose rice
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Dash cinnamon
2 tablespoons slivered almonds (optional)

Makes four servings

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Put the rice, milk, butter, sugar, and cardamom in a medium pot with an oven-proof lid. Stir well, put on the lid and cook in the oven for 1 hour. After an hour, remove from the oven, stir, and continue to bake an additional 30 to 45 minutes until the pudding is creamy and moist, and the rice is tender. Don’t overcook and let it dry out.

Let it cool for 10 minutes with the lid on. Spoon into serving bowls, sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and serve.

Slow-Cooked Kadu

¼ cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, pureed in food processor or finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (about 1 tbsp.)
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and diced
2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3 to 4-inch large chunks
1 small jalapeno pepper, halved, seeded and cut in 6 pieces
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. ground turmeric
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
Yogurt sauce (recipe below)
Nan or pita bread for dipping
Large oval or round slow cooker

Heat the oil in a 14-inch sauté pan or medium casserole over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the pan and sauté until tender and golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Once the onion mixture is tender, add jalapeno, tomato paste, turmeric, sugar and broth. Stir, bring to a boil and let it boil for 2-3 minutes.

In the meant time, arrange the squash pieces in the slow cooker; place the larger, thicker pieces in the bottom and the thin pieces on top. It’s o.k. if the pieces overlap. Tuck the pieces snugly in the slow cooker.

Pour the sauce over the squash so all the pieces are covered with the sauce. Place the lid on the pot and cook on low for 3 hours. The squash should be fork tender but still hold its shape. If it is not cooked enough, let it go another ½ to 1 hour in the slow cooker.

To serve as an individual appetizer, pour a generous spoonful of yogurt sauce on the serving plate and swirl it around the plate with the back of the spoon. Place one large piece of the squash on the yogurt; finish with a large dollop of yogurt on top of the squash.

To serve as a main dish, arrange the pumpkin in a large shallow bowl. Spoon the yogurt sauce over the pumpkin and pour any remaining yogurt around the outside edges of the pumpkin.

Serve with warm Nan or pita bread.

Yogurt Sauce:
1 cup full fat plain yogurt
1/2 to 1 ½ tsp. dried garlic (depending on your personal taste)
1 tsp. salt
In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients.
Serves 4 to 6 as a main course, 6 to 8 as an appetizer.

Afghan Lamb Kofta Pizzas

1 tbsp. olive oil
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ lb. ground lamb (or beef)
1/4 cup peeled, seeded, diced tomato (canned or fresh)
1 tbsp. tomato paste
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/3 of the nan dough (recipe in the post below), or favorite pizza dough
2 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1 ½ oz. feta cheese

Heat oven to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, set it in the oven to heat up.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute or two. Add the lamb, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, paprika, coriander, black pepper and pepper flakes to the pan. Cook for another 15 minutes, breaking up that lamb and stirring from time to time.

Shape your nan or pizza dough into a thin, 12-inch round pie. Set the dough on a baking sheet or a pizza paddle that is lightly dusted with cornmeal. Distribute the lamb evenly over the dough. Lay the mozzarella over the lamb and then sprinkle with the feta cheese. Put the pizza in the oven either on the pizza stone or the baking sheet. Bake until the crust is a deep golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Afghan Challaw

3 cups good quality basmati rice (not processed or par-cooked)
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
5 green cardamom pods

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Immerse the rice in a bowl of water. Drain. Repeat this step three times. Immerse the rice again in water and soak for 1 to 2 hours. Fill a medium (5 quart) pot with water and bring to a boil (if you use a pot that is too large, you won’t get the desired result — unless you are doubling or tripling the recipe).

Add the rice to the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes until it is al dente. There should be a slight crunch if you bite into the rice. Don’t overcook it.

Scoop out 1/4 cup of the cooking water and set aside. Pour the rice into a colander to drain off the water. Quickly return the rice back to the pot. Add the ¼ cup of cooking water, oil, salt, and cardamom and stir thoroughly but gently so the rice doesn’t break. Cover the pot with aluminum foil and set the lid on top of that.

Put the pot in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Drop the heat to 250 degrees and cook for an additional 25 minutes. Serve on a large, shallow platter.

Afghan Dumplings (Aushak)

4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ground lamb
1 cup tomato sauce
1 ½ tsp. paprika
1 ½ tsp. ground coriander
3 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 lb. green onions, washed, stems removed
½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 package won ton wrappers
1 tsp. vinegar
1 cup plain yogurt
½ teaspoon ground dried garlic
1 tbsp. dried mint

Saute the onion over medium heat in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the lamb and sauté until cooked through, breaking it up like finely minced taco meat. Add the tomato sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, the paprika, coriander and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring regularly for 20 minutes.

While the meat is cooking, finely chop the green onions (use the entire onion). A Cuisinart is useful for this step. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the green onions, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the crushed red pepper. Turn heat to low and sauté until tender, 10 minutes.

To assemble the dumplings, fill a small bowl with water and put it at your work station. Set a won ton wrapper on your work surface and dip the tip of your finger in the water. Moisten the edges along two connecting sides of the wrapper. The water will serve as glue for the dumpling. Put about a teaspoon of green onions in the center of the wrapper. Fold the dough in half over the green onion in the shape of a triangle. Use the tip of your finger to firmly press the edges of the dough together to form a tight seal. Next, lift the two longest points of the triangle and press them together, creating a little circle over the dumpling. It will look like a fancy napkin fold.

While you are assembling the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. Add the vinegar. Once all of the dumplings are done, immerse them in the water and boil according to directions on the won ton package (about 4 minutes). While the dumplings are boiling, quickly stir together the yogurt with the garlic and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.

Gingerly scoop the cooked dumplings out of the water with a slotted spoon, a few at a time, and arrange on a large platter. Spoon the yogurt over the dumplings and the ground meat on top of that. Sprinkle with dried mint and serve immediately.

Makes 25 dumplings.

Paneer

1/2 gallon of one percent milk
1/2 gallon of buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. of salt

This recipe can be doubled.

In a large heavy pan heat the milk on medium heat. While waiting, cut the cheese cloth to fit the colander and have some of it drape off the side of the colander. If the mesh on the cheese cloth is not very fine, lay 2-3 layers.

Just when the milk starts to boil (don’t burn the bottom) remove it from heat. Add the buttermilk and salt. Stir for 1 minute. Set the colander in the sink and slowly pour the contents of the pot into the colander. Make sure that the cheese cloth doesn’t slide off the sides of the colander. The milk will curdle and the liquid will drip out of the colander. Scrape the side of the cheese cloth to speed up the drainage of the liquid.

The contents will reduce slowly. Grab the side of the cheese cloth and tie with with a clip or a rubber band. Continue squeezing the cheese cloth until there is barely any water squeezing out but it should still feel moist otherwise the cheese will be too dry. By now the cheese should be the size of a large softball.

Put the cheese in the cheese cloth with a bowl lined with two layers of paper towel. Leave it in the fridge for 2-3 hours or until it is solid.

Afghan Bulanee

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup water room temperature
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. russet potatoes (about 2 medium-size potatoes)
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions white and green parts
¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Slowly add the water and the teaspoon of oil and mix the dough together, kneading it a little until it forms a ball. If the dough is too dry to come together, add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Once the dough is formed, knead it for 10 minutes on a lightly floured cutting board. If you are impatient like us, set the timer so you won’t reduce the kneading time. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a cloth and let it rest for one hour.

In the meantime , boil the potatoes until soft in the center when pierced with a small knife. Remove from the water and when cool enough to handle, slip the skins off the potatoes. Put the potatoes, cilantro, scallions, 2 tbsp. of the olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and mash together with your hands or a potato masher until thoroughly combined. Some lumps are ok. You can also make this the night before and keep it refrigerated until ready to use.

Take a small amount of dough the size of a small apple and roll into a smooth ball. Spread some flour on the wood board and roll out the dough using a rolling pin. Continue to flatten the dough until it takes a round shape, is as thin as a tortilla, and about 10-12 inches across. The thinner the dough the better. If you have trouble rolling the dough to the shape you want, use a lid from a pot to trace a perfect round shape.

Spread ¼ cup of potato mixture on one side of the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border around the rim. Fold the other half over and press the dough together with your finger to form a seal.

Heat the remaining ¼ cup of oil in a medium-size sauté pan over medium-high heat. Brown the bolani, two at a time, until golden on both sides. The bolani should sizzle when they hit the pan. Lay cooked bolani on a paper towel. Add more oil to your pan if your oil starts to reduce. These are best served warm but are tasty at room temperature.

Serve with plain yogurt

Short Cut:
If you don’t want to make the dough use flour tortillas instead, it always turns out well and saves time.
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. water
6 6-inch flour tortillas

In a small dish, mix together the flour and water to make a paste. Set a tortilla on your work surface and spread ¼ cup of the potato mixture on the tortilla, leaving a half-inch border around the rim. Using your finger spread a small amount of the paste around the edge of half of the tortilla. Fold the tortilla over, encasing the potatoes into a half circle. Press the two sides of the tortillas together firmly to form a tight seal. Brown the bolani following the instructions in the recipe above.

Cardamom Almond Brittle

1 ½ cup granulated sugar
1 lb. unsalted roasted almonds*
1 1/2 teasspoon ground cardamom

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the almonds in a single layer on the baking sheet, grouping them all together with no spaces between the nuts.

Heat the sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat, stirring regularly. The sugar will eventually turn to liquid. Continue to cook, stirring all the while, until the sugar is golden brown. Add the cardamom and cook a little longer until it reaches a deep amber color and smooth texture. The whole process of caramelizing the sugar will take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Drizzle the sugar in a thin stream evenly over the top of the almonds, covering them all. Cool completely. Break up the almonds with your fingers into two-bite pieces. Store in a jar with a tight lid or package for gifts.

*if you buy raw almonds, toast them in a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes before doing the recipe

Yogurt Sauce with Garlic and Cherries

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 pinch dried ground garlic
1/4 tsp. salt ( more if you like the sweet & salty flavors)
1 cup whole raw cherries, pitted and halved
1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint (optional)

Mix the yogurt, garlic, and salt in a bowl and stir until the yogurt is creamy. Add the cherries and mix until the cherries are coated with yogurt and distributed evenly around the bowl. The sauce will turn pink. Scatter the mint over the top.

Serve with grilled chicken or lamb.

Padron Chili Sauce

2 pints padron chilis (around 22 peppers), ends off and seeds removed
3 cloves peeled garlic
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons roughly chopped walnuts
½ cup white vinegar

Put the peppers, garlic, salt, black pepper, walnuts, and vinegar in the food processor and use the pulse button to grind the peppers and mix the ingredients. Pulse a couple of times, wipe the sides, check the consistency and pulse more. The sauce looks best and ends up with a pleasing crunch if you don’t over blend it. If you prefer things really spicy, use a hotter chili like jalapenos.

Serve in a small bowl and use a small amount to eat with whatever you are making for dinner.

Serves around 8

Lemon Chicken Kebabs

2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice mixed with 1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
wooden or metal skewers

Cut chicken into 2-inch chunks and put in a bowl. Puree remaining ingredients in a food processor. Pour marinade over the chicken and mix thoroughly. Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least three hours, preferably overnight.

If using wooden skewers, immerse them in water for at least 20 minutes before using.

Put 4 to 5 pieces of chicken on each skewer. Grill over a medium flame until done. If you don’t have a grill, you can cook the kebabs under a broiler for a few minutes per side or bake them in a 400 degree oven until cooked through.

Serves 6

Afghan Grilled Ground Beef

2 lbs. ground beef (no less than 20% fat)
1 ½ cups finely diced green onion (both white and green parts)
1 cup finely chopped cilantro (stems are fine)
1 egg
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp. ground coriander
½ tbsp. finely chopped garlic
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)

Fire up the grill until it’s nice and hot.

In the mean time mix all ingredients in a large bowl and mix by hand for at least 5 minutes. Pretend it is bread dough and knead the meat. Set the timer so you won’t cut the time short. It’s very important that all the ingredients are mixed well and the meat takes on a smooth texture.

Divide the dough into eight pieces and roll into balls. Pat the meat to form burgers that are about 1/4-inch thick and 4 inches in diameter, or larger if you like. Cook each side on your BBQ for about 5 minutes or until its cooked all the way through and juicy. While there is no “medium rare’ in the Afghan vocabulary, be careful not to overcook them. If you don’t have a bbq, no worries, simply cook the kebabs in a lightly oiled skillet for about 5 minutes per side.

Serve with warm pita bread, salad and a dollop of yogurt.

Makes 8 patties

Grilled Chicken Marinated in Yogurt

3 cups plain, whole milk yogurt
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
dash garlic powder
3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Put all the ingredients except the chicken in a large bowl and mix well. Add the chicken and mix until all pieces are covered with yogurt. Pour the contents of the bowl in a sealable plastic bag or a container with a tight lid. Marinate for at least 24 hours.

Pull the chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before you are going to grill. Get the barbecue good and hot. If you are using a gas grill, let it heat up for a good 10 minutes. In the meantime, pour the chicken into a colander and wipe the marinade off as best you can.

Grill the chicken over a medium-high flame about 7 minutes a side until it’s cooked through. Once cooked, wrap the chicken in aluminum foil and let it sit for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Lamb with Yogurt and Cinnamon

½ cup Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. dried ground coriander
½ tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 lbs. lamb stew meat, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 large onions, peeled, sliced thin
Ground cinnamon

In a large bowl mix together the yogurt, oil, garlic, coriander, pepper and salt and stir well. Add the lamb and onions and coat evenly with the yogurt mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pull the lamb out a half hour before you a ready to cook. Put the lamb into large pot or Dutch oven and cover with a lid. Put it into the oven and cook until the lamb is very tender (about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours). Remove the lid, give it a stir, and continue to cook another 20 to 30 minutes until some of the liquid has reduced and you have a thick, oniony sauce.

Sprinkle the meat lightly with cinnamon and serve with warm nan bread and plain yogurt. You can season the yogurt with a little salt and stir in some grated cucumbers or chopped mint if you like.

Creamy Cilantro Chutney

2 small bunches fresh cilantro, stems removed
1 medium jalapeno pepper (more if you like it really spicy)
2 tbsp. lebni (or Greek yogurt if you can’t find lebni)
¼ cup white vinegar or lemon juice
½ tsp. Kosher salt

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Blend until smooth.

Lamb Skewers with Cilantro Sauce

½ yellow onion, peeled and halved
1 medium jalapeno pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut in half lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
2 lbs. lamb stew meat, cut into 1 ½-inch cubes

Put the onion, jalapeno, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process until smooth. Mix the blended onion with the lamb in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator a half hour before you are ready to grill. Thread the lamb meat on metal or wooden skewers and grill until cooked through but still tender.

Creamy Cilantro Chutney

2 small bunches fresh cilantro, stems removed
1 medium jalapeno pepper (more if you like it really spicy)
2 tbsp. lebni (or Greek yogurt if you can’t find lebni)
¼ cup white vinegar or lemon juice
½ tsp. Kosher salt

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Blend until smooth.

Serve kebabs with nan or pita bread that you have warmed on the grill along with chutney.

Afghan Bean Soup

1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp. Kosher salt
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. finely ground coriander
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes (optional)
1 1/2 cups dried mung beans
1 15oz can of kidney bean
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
2 tbsp. dried dill
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. dried ground garlic
1/2 tsp, salt

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pot, add onions and brown for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sautee for another 2 minutes. Add the meat and cook 10-12 minutes until browned and cooked through. Add the chicken broth, salt, tomato paste, coriander, pepper, and mung beans to the pot. Stir well. Bring to a boil and then turn the head to low and cook for 25-35 minutes until the mung beans are soft. In the meantime, rinse the kidney beans and garbanzo beans in a colander. Finally, add the kidney beans, mung beans and dill to the pot. Cook for 5-8 minutes.

Mix the yogurt, garlic and salt. Stir until creamy.

Pumpkin and Scallion Turnovers with Yogurt Sauce

1 pound sweet potatoes
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/3 cup finely chopped scallions, white and light green parts
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons water
6 6-inch flour tortillas
Plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Roast the sweet potatoes in the oven until very tender. The time will vary depending on the size of the potatoes.

Cut the potatoes in half, scoop out the flesh and put it into a medium bowl. Discard the skin. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the sweet potatoes along with the cilantro, scallions, and salt. Mash with a fork until thoroughly combined. You can make this ahead of time and keep it refrigerated until ready to use.

In a small dish, mix together the flour and water to make a paste. Set a tortilla on your work surface and spread ¼ cup of the potato mixture on the tortilla, leaving a half-inch border around the rim. Using your finger spread a small amount of the paste around the edge of half of the tortilla. Fold the tortilla over, encasing the potatoes into a half circle. Press the two sides of the tortillas together firmly to form a tight seal.

Heat the remaining ¼ cup of oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Brown, two at a time, until golden on both sides. They should sizzle when they hit the pan. Lay cooked turnovers on a paper towel. These are best served warm but are tasty at room temperature.