Thursday, August 27, 2009


Land of mountains, sheep, violence, and tasty food! Afghanistan's cuisine has developed from its position on the historical trading routes between Asia and the West. Elements of Indian, Persian, and Mediterranean cooking combine here into a very fascinating food culture.

Sadly, not much has been written on the subject as of yet, but we have been able to track down one book by Helen Saberi: Afghan Food and Cookery. After a perusal through the many great recipes we settled on a basic three piece dinner of: Pilau, Lentils, and Stewed Eggplant. As with most cookbooks I use, the following recipes are my own spins on the book's suggestions. All turned out well this time, fortunately. We'll be sure to chronicle the complete disasters (and how we fix them) as they happen.

Bor Pilau: Chicken Yogurt Pilaf
1 big yellow onion: thinly sliced
6 Tbsps vegetable oil
1.5 lbs boneless chicken cut into small pieces
3 crushed garlic cloves
1.5 cups yogurt
2 tsp coriander
2 cups basmati rice
.5 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cardamon seed
salt and red pepper flakes to taste

1. Fry the onion over medium low heat until browned.

2. Add chicken pieces and make them nice and brown. Then add the yogurt, coriander, garlic, salt, and red pepper. Raise to a simmer and then reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes.

3. Soak the rice for 30 minutes. Drain the rice. Boil in five cups of water for 3 minutes and drain.

4.Combine rice, chicken, sauce, and cardamon in a large oven proof pot. Bake with lid on in the oven at 300 F for 45 more minutes. The pilau should now be ready! If the rice is still under done add a bit more water and continue cooking.

Bonjon: Eggplant

While the pilau cooks you can start on the eggplant.

1lb fat eggplant cut into cubes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 big yellow onion thinly sliced
1/2 cup stewed tomatoes
1 tsp coriander
salt and red pepper flakes to taste

1. In a medium pan fry the onion until brown and remove from oil with slotted spoon and place into a blender with tomatoes and puree.
2.Brown the eggplant in remaining oil for about five minutes then pour on the onion puree and add spices and 1/2 cup water.
3.Cover pan and cook over low heat for the next 40 minutes or until eggplant falls apart. You're done!

Dal: Mashed Red Lentils

While making the eggplant you should have no problem putting together the lentil dish.

1.5 cups red lentils
1 tsp ground ginger
3 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tomato chopped
2 tbsps olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a small sauce pan cover the lentils with an inch of water and bring to a boil.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes with lid on (otherwise it's going to get real messy!)
3. Smash lentils with spoon and reduce to a gooey mush. It's ready to eat!

Now everything should be ready for your feast! Invite company and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Rundown

Hello, we’re Tom and Amy, two Hoosiers who recently moved into a wee Chicago apartment. We’ve been dating for the past year and a half, and our relationship began with and seems to often come back to food. Naturally we’ve decided that since we now share a kitchen, we are finally in the position to make an attempt at a project we’ve both been contemplating for the past year. We are going to cook a full dinner (side dishes and main course) from each country in the world. All 203 of them!

To keep some kind of order to all of this we’ve decided to go alphabetically from A-Z. Here’s a list for those who want to keep track:

We should point out now that neither of us are professional chefs. We both sit at computers all day for our jobs. But both of us have a love for good food and love finding new foods. While neither of us have actually been to most of these countries, we do live in a city that has quite a few countries represented in its population. This should give us a bit of a leg up in our endeavors.

Neither of us would be considered qualified experts with any of these cuisines, but it’s always been our belief that nobody needs to be an expert to cook well. If you’ve got a kitchen, ingredients, and patience: you’ll generally find you can work through most good recipes.

I’m sure there will be a lot of strange and new foods as we work through this list. The first country will be Afghanistan!