LAST MINUTE IDEAS FOR THANKSGIVING SIDE DISHES - AFGHAN STYLE

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By Humaira

The older I get the more I like my own food.  At pot-lucks, I grab a nice plateful of my dish before others get to it.  At restaurants I order food with similar spices and flavors.  I recently accepted the dark reality that I have become my mother --- when it comes to food.

The first time I had Mujaddara, it was love at first bite.  It tasted very similar to my favorite Afghan dish Shohla but not as filling.  I recently sought a recipe for this dish popular in Arab countries and settled on a recipe from the Food Network since I had the ingredients in my pantry. To my children's annoyance, I have made this dish every week in the past month to perfect the recipe to my taste, my waist line and to my kid's palette.

It occured to me that most of us struggle with new and innovative Thanksgiving side dishes. If you want to jazz up your Thanksgiving meal, perhaps you might want to consider Mujaddara or some of following Afghan dishes:

Sabzi - Slow cooker Afghan spinach

Kadoo - Afghan braised pumpkin

Gulpea - Tender Afghan cauliflower

Sweet Potato Bolani - Yummy turnover

Lghataq - Creamy Afghan eggplant dip as a starter

Carrot pudding - Rosewater carrot pudding

Mujaddara means pock-marked in Arabic, referring to the the black or green lentils mixed in with rice, onions, coriander and cumin.  I have to admit, I did make the dish with Trader Joe's steamed lentils which turned out fabulous and it cut the cooking time in half.  However, in this recipe I use dry green lentils so those who are not near a TJ's can still make the dish.

 Lentil&Rice

Lentil&Rice

May the cooking fairies make your Thanksgiving day a fabulous one.  This year I give thanks for my family, for my health and for my community (that includes all of you).  I also remember my father Ghulam Farouq Ghilzai, who celebrated Thanksgiving with great enthusiasm every year since it was his favorite American holiday. He always reminded us to be thankful for living in this fabulous country, the United States.

 Happythanksgiving

Happythanksgiving

Humaira's Mujaddara

 A Rice and Lentil Dish

1 cup small green lentils

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp. cumin seeds

3 red onion thinly sliced

1 cup short grain or calrose rice rinsed

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper or skip if you have kids

1 tbsp. salt (adjust to your taste)

1 tsp. ground black pepper

3 cups water

In a pan, add lentils and cold water.  On high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.  Cook until lentils are soft, around 15-20 minutes.  Don't over cook the lentils since they will simmer with the rice.

While the lentils are cooking, place a deep frying pan on high heat and add olive oil. After a minute, add cumin seeds and stir until the seeds turn slightly brown and fragrant, around 2 minutes. Add the onions to the pan and reduce heat to medium high.  Stir frequently, cook the onions until slightly brown and crispy, around 15 minutes. Scoop out a quarter of the caramlized onions onto a plate to use as granish later.

Add the rice to the pan, stir consistently so it doesn't stick to the pan or break. Once the rice is translucent, around 3-4 minutes, add the cooked lentils, the spices, salt, pepper and the water to the pan.  Stir well and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low, place a lid on the pan, let the ingredients simmer until the rice is cooked through and all the liquid is absorbed, 20-30 minutes. Remove the pot from heat, let is sit for an additional five minutes before serving.

Serve the dish on a bed of lettuce, topped with the carmalized onions, a wedge of lemon or a dollup of plain yogurt.  

 Mujaddara

Mujaddara

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STAGE PRODUCTION OF - A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS - TWO WEEK RUN AT A.C.T. SAN FRANCISCO

 

Play Synopsis: A Thousand Splendid Suns is the epic story of three generations of Afghan women who are bound together by marriage, family, and a secret past, amid the war-torn streets of modern-day Kabul. Strong-willed Laila, unmarried and pregnant, is forced to marry her older neighbor when her family and home are torn apart. In her new home, she forges an extraordinary and unlikely friendship with Mariam, her husband’s first wife, and together the two women find the hope and strength to raise a new generation.

Adapted by Ursula Rani Sarma
Based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini
Original music written and performed by David Coulter
Directed by Carey Perloff
 

A.C.T.’s Geary Theater in San Francisco

Running dates in A.C.T.: July 17—29

Click here to purchase tickets

Discount code to Save up to 45% on tickets to select performances—use code SUNS2018 when ordering
online. 

Special discount codes for ages under 30! Save up to 50% on tickets—use code UNDER30 when ordering. ID required.

 

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Khaled Hosseini created my first cultural consulting gig in 2009. A theater company was staging the first production of his novel The Kite Runner and he wanted the play to feel authentic. Naturally, when a friend and international bestselling author asks me to help, I say, “Yes!” I jumped in and have since consulted on nine stage productions, several scripts and a Hollywood film.

As a Cultural Consultant, my main goal is to bring cultural literacy for authentic portrayal of Afghan people, their customs and the Dari language. I hack away at stereotypes and generalizations, and spend a great deal of time explaining Afghanistan’s history so there is a better understanding of why Afghans pray differently from Saudis, or how Afghans communicate with their body, and how 35 years of war has affected the Afghan people’s mindset. 

In the past three years I've been part of a group of highly talented and visionary team who have worked closely to move the story of A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS from pages of a book to an awe inspiring play for stage. This play has resonated with audiences so much that after it's World Premier at A.C.T., over a year ago, the production went to Canada, San Diego and after this two week run  San Francisco it will move on to the Seattle Rep.

I hope you'll be able to see. I've included a special community discount code (SUNS2018) for my readers.

Click here to purchase tickets.

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