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

Except where otherwise noted, all content on this blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license

AFGHAN VEGETABLE FRITTATA - KHAKEENA


Afghan Culture Unveiled

Afghan Culture Unveiled

By Humaira

Even food bloggers get in a food rut. My family knows I’ve run out of cooking energy when our dinner consists of Tortila de Patata, a Spanish potato and egg omelette since I always have eggs, onions and potatoes on hand. 

Today’s recipes, khakeena,  is Afghanistan’s answer to the Spanish Tortilla, you wouldn’t know it from the the long list of ingredients but I promise you it's true. Khak is the Dari word for dirt. Perhaps, our cleverly named dish khakeena, symbolize sweeping out the left overs from pantry, fridge or cold room from left over ingredients.

The idea is to throw together whatever veggies you have laying around into a healthy, hearty dish using eggs as a binder since they are expensive and used sparingly in Afghanistan. A summer khakeena will most likely have a different ingredient list than a winter khakeena.

Traditionally, khakeena is eaten for lunch. It’s served in a wedge with a salad and a side of nan.

Afghan Culture Unveiled

 

I made wraps to make the dish more filing for my hungry teenagers. I added a little Humaira twist to the dish by creating a creamy feta sauce which adds a tangy edge to the wrap. There is no wrong way to serve this dish. 

I want to thank my sister Nabila for sourcing this recipe from a friend of hers.

Afghan Culture Unveiled 


 

AFGHAN VEGETABLE FRITTATA

KHAKEENA


½ cup acorn squash, shredded with a box grater

⅓ cup fresh dill, finely chopped

3 green onions, chopped

2 cups spinach, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 zucchini, shredded

3 fingerling potatoes, shredded

1 small red onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped

3 eggs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1 teaspoon cumin, ground

1 teaspoon coriander, ground

4 spinach lavash, cut down to 8x10 inch size

Feta sauce:

¼ cup crumbled feta

½ tablespoon lemon zest

½ tablespoon olive oil


Heat oven to 350 degree

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until all ingredients are mixed well - around two minutes. Butter the bottom of an oven safe, deep frying pan with a generous coat of butter or use olive oil. Pour the mixture into the pan, spread evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

While the frittata is in the oven, make the feta sauce. Put all ingredients in small bowl, mix with a small spoon, pressing the feta with the back of the spoon to create a creamy mixture.

Frittata can be served with a fresh salad with a small dollop of the feta sauce with side of pita or nan.

I made a wrap to make the dish more filing. Spread a thin layer of the feta sauce in the middle of the lavash, divide the frittata into quarters, place one portion on the lavash. Fold in one side of the lavash and then roll from the bottom up. Cut in half, serve with a side of salad. 

Serves 4-5

Afghan Culture Unveiled