Afghan Potato Chick Pea Salad

¾ pound Russet potatoes, cut in half
½ cup roughly chopped scallions, white and light green parts
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro (1 small bunch)
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
¾ tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 ½ cans chickpeas (15 oz cans)

Boil the potatoes in water until tender all the way through to the center when pierced with a knife. Drain. When cool enough to handle, slip the skins off the potatoes and cut into large, bite-size pieces.

While the potatoes are cooking, combine the scallions, cilantro, vinegar, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Empty the beans into a colander, rinse and drain. Put the beans and the potatoes into a bowl, pour on the dressing and mix well. Serve warm or cold.

Afghan Kadu

One 3 pound sugar pie pumpkin or butternut squash
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tomatoes roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup full fat or Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

Cut the pumpkin into quarters, remove the seeds, peel and cut in thin strips.

Heat the vegetable broth in a large frying pan on medium-high heat, add the pumpkin. Keep a close eye on the pumpkin, stirring every few minutes so all pieces are exposed to heat. Add the turmeric, stir well, cover the pot with a lid or aluminum foil and allow the liquid to absorb and thicken. This will take around 10 minutes.

In the meantime, in a sauce pan heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and sugar. Stir well, turn the heat to medium-low and let is cook until the flavors infuse the oil and the tomatoes caramelize a bit, 7 to 10 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t burn.

Pour the tomato mixture evenly over the pumpkin. Cover the top with a tight lid or aluminum foil and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is fully cooked and a fork can go through it easily.

Mix the yogurt, garlic powder and salt in a bowl and stir for a minute or so until it’s smooth and creamy. Portion the pumpkin onto serving plates and put a generous dollop of yogurt to top. Serve with pita bread or Aghan Nan.

Carrot Halwa

2 lbs. carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup whipping cream

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped pistachios, roasted
1/4 cup chopped almonds, roasted
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. rosewater (adjust to your taste)

In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter. Add the carrots and cook over medium high heat for 5-8 minutes until the carrots are tender and no liquid remains. Stir regularly to make sure the carrots don’t burn.

Add the milk, cream and sugar, stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring from time to time, until all the liquid is absorbed. This could take 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Once it’s done, add the rosewater and cardamom and stir well.

If the nuts are not roasted, distribute them on a cookie sheet and broil for 2-3 minutes. They should be lightly brown and crunchy. Roughly chop them after roasting.

Serve the pudding warm or room temperature with the nuts sprinkled over the top.

Grilled Lamb Skewers

4 large cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup plain yogurt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 ½ tsp. ground turmeric
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 lbs. boneless lamb, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Small wooden or metal skewers*
Ground sumac (optional)
Cilantro Mint Chutney (see related recipe)

In a medium bowl mix together the garlic, yogurt, spices, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the lamb and mix well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

An hour before you are ready to cook, pull the lamb from the refrigerator. If you are using wooden skewers immerse them in water for 20 minutes.

Spear 3 to 4 pieces of lamb on each skewer and set aside until you are ready to cook. Grill the kebabs over a medium-high flame until cooked through but still pink in the center. If you don’t have a grill, cook the kebabs under a broiler in your oven.

Coat the bottom of your serving platter with a few tablespoons of chutney. Set the kebabs on top of the chutney with a little crock of the remaining chutney in the center. Lightly sprinkle sumac over the top if you like.