Mar 19, 2006


Naan mae kurdhi?...2

the famous afghan roti!
Throughout history, Afghans have always been a warring tribe and never really advanced themselves in food skills. (Or, in fact anything). Their basic diet is afghan roti /afghan pulav with spice less chicken/beef/sheep. The best they have come up is the kebab…This is typical of any warring civilization. The women have less time for delicacies and even less resources for experiments. The food remains close to the basics.
The afghan roti is almost a meter long and half an inch thick. Nobody makes it at home. Everybody buys it from local bakeries for 6 afghanis a piece. Its ok when warm but gives your gums a good exercise when cold. I stopped eating it the day someone said that the dough is kneaded with the feet. Oops!
When Afghans (Mughals) came to India, they brought with them their basic military food-the afghan pulav. In military camps, there was no time for cooking meat separately. So it was cooked together with the rice. This kept evolving and finally found its present form as ‘Biriyani’ under the Nizam of Hyderabad (who was an expert cook thankfully)
So, Afghan pulav is the spiceless forefather of our modern Biriyani. Sometimes, slender slices of carrot and dry grapes are mixed for flavor or whatever.
Afghans have a typical way of eating. Only the meat is in the plate. What we usually call the side dish is actually the main dish here. The roti is always on the table. They take the meat in the right hand and a bite of roti with the left. I was so amused by this sight when I saw it the first time. I desperately wanted to show this sight to my family. .what a fuss they make with table manners!
the afghan kabab!
Afghans consider vegetarians as very poor people who cannot afford a sheep.”Hey look at Abdullah buying potatoes and pumpkins.. he must have had a bad harvest of hashish this year.” Well, it’s sort of unfashionable to give importance to vegetables in this part of the world. So, in general it’s either meat or hunger. And they’ve had a fair share of both in their history.
Afghanistan has an attractive variety of fruits. Grapes (remember studying in history the famous Kabul grapes brought to India by Babur) , berries, water melon, apples, apricots, kenus(oranges), peaches are found in abundance in summer. I should also mention that nuts (pista, walnut, badam etc) form a big part of afghan snack diet.
Something the Afghans cannot live without is Tea – both black and green. I almost puked the first day I landed here when I sipped the green tea offered to me. I begged for milk and sugar the next day and from then on our cook serves me only ‘dhoodh-pathi’ (milk tea)…and I don’t care when I am looked at with amazement for adding milk to tea!

When compared to all of this, look at that way we south Indians have zoomed ahead in the kitchen sector. I was reading the comments of Tilo’s post to realize this. Our choice and variety of food is unparallel to anywhere on planet earth
The biggest sacrifice I had to make when coming to Kabul was food…the wonderful south Indian food… I come from ‘thinnu ketta’ Tamil nadu, the land of good food…! And of course I come from Madurai…the land of kuthu parotta and chalna! (my mouth is watering as I am typing this line *sigh*)
I don’t know what I would have done if not for the culinary skills of my junior architect SundaraPanidan. Necessity is the mother of invention… He learnt and improved his cooking skills in Kabul …the scapegoat was chiefly me. But he is a true professional by now.. (refer previous post for proof)
Of course, my specialty is hot water and scrambled eggs!


  1. ennaga test page idhu...

    Hello mic testing 1. 2. 3.

    namaku theruncha testing idhu thaan

  2. Ashok,

    Thats an interesting piece of food history and info. Maybe you can start them on the much evolved South Indian food.


    I have moved my blog to a new site ( Can you update your blogroll pls?

  3. kalaiyaale patha testpagenu irundhucu ippo paartha oru periya bloga irukudhu.. ora maayaiyaa iruku poonga..

  4. i am a strict veggie !!

    btw , why are u in kabul ?

  5. Kal-la maavu pisayarangala?? Uvvak!!! Naan left-handaye use panna vida matten yaraiyum, hayyo!

  6. Anonymous5:23 PM

    *neighbor...for the past few days iam having a lot of trouble publishing anything...still the problem has not been solved...really frustrating!

    *slacks...wats ur site? I cant open the one u mentioned...


    *usha....another kodumai da sami!

  7. Anonymous6:00 PM

    I am a 70 year old Swedish lady ,who happened to open this blog during our bloggingtroubledays!

    Very interesting analyze of Afghan kitchen, that I otherwise would have missed.
    In Sweden in old times, say 150 years ago, people in common did´nt have any luxurious diet!
    We survived, like the Irish on potatoes, salted herring and lingonberries.
    1868 there was a big famine due to weatherconditions and plantdisease - and tens of thousands started to emigrate to the USA - 1900 every fifth born Swede was in America!

  8. Hi Ashok

    It is

    Try cut n paste in browser.


  9. Anonymous11:07 PM

    Great post.

    "I stopped eating it the day someone said that the dough is kneaded with the feet. Oops!"
    But I have heard even in our place mass production of food stuff like Panchamritham involved leg work.

  10. "And of course I come from Madurai…the land of kuthu parotta and chalna! (my mouth is watering as I am typing this line *sigh*)".

    Ashock- i agree.. that's my fav meal.. on any given day!

    please no more pictures.. im gonna start cursing you .. seriously.. STOP!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!! STOP!

  11. LMAO ---- ”Hey look at Abdullah buying potatoes and pumpkins.. he must have had a bad harvest of hashish this year.”


  12. wow, thanks for info on the origins of biriyani. the tastiest wine comes from women stomping on the grapes :)I agree with you on the tastiest food is south indian food especially tamilnadu, andhra romba karam

  13. but in afghanistan ??? how come ???

  14. Nice information about Afghan food. i have read some wear the afghan is also famous for Dates (parichampalam).:)

  15. *vidya...welcome here..wats ur blog?

    *r.balaji....tanx...i will never try panchamritham now...oops

    *Tp...hahaha..wait till blogger gets ok..i have alteast another 20 fotos ...:-)
    so parota & chalna ur fav too!!!


    *deepa...yup! :)

    *jeevan... dates mostly come from iran...i have not seen local variety till now!

  16. Ashock- you post em on ur blog.. i send it to like 20 ppl. Misery loves company.. they curse me, and I curse you.. lol.

  17. Nice read Ashok :) Keep them coming. I promise more detailed comments once I find time :(

  18. *Tp....U just waaaaaaaaaait !

    *madsies...welcome happy that atleast ur mess chef wore some protection ;) lol

    *jayan...keep ur promise

    *ammu...wait, theres more...

  19. Very interesting analysis Ashok. Quite a lot of info abt Afghani history, which is quite rare to find.

    Only recently, i got to learn what you mean by chalna.. in our place, something else used to be referred that way.

  20. Ashokai meetiya Sundarapandian!

    (Avvai Shanmugi)

  21. *chakra... wats that something?

    *tilo :)

  22. Anonymous11:40 PM

    Excellent, love it!

  23. Anonymous9:17 PM

    no comment from Tilo? Quite surprising