In last week's post I recounted my first impressions of Afghanistan after my last visit in 2012.
Afghan hospitality is world famous—unless you are there to invade the country. In six days, I managed to gain five pounds from the elaborate meals, countless cups of tea accompanied by sweets. On previous trips, I was amazed by my cousin Ghani jan and his wife Farida jan's endless energy for hosting. They have out of the country guests who stay for a month, or families from their home province who come a week or local guests who pop in at meal time without calling. I've always assume that maybe I would be such a patient host if I grew up in Afghanistan but that is not the case. I discovered their secret for seamless hospitality—cohesive family dynamic and team work.
Their children wash dishes, make meals and take care of each other without being asked, rewarded or threatened. There are no colorful stars or rewards for doing chores
The parents roles are very clear—Ghani jan handles everything outside the house—making money, handling kids' academic needs, buying groceries, driving, and keeping up with their clan's demands from his home province, Ghazni. Farida jan, handles everything inside the house—cooking, cleaning, laundry, overseeing and assisting in children's homework, and hosting countless guests that pop-in unannounced.
Although their five children's responsibilities generally fall along the gender lines but I also noticed their birth order dictated their responsibilities. It was remarkable when the four-year-old took dishes to the kitchen to help her older sister or the twelve-year-old offered to take the garbage out so his older brother can rest from a full day's work.
Every house I visited had a similar scheme—the kids were right there, hosting, engaging and participating right along with the parents. I'm not sure how one instills such values in children. My two daughters will walk by an overflowing compost bin for two days without taking notice of it.
In the past thirteen years of engagement in Afghanistan, we Americans have exported many ideas to better the country but perhaps we can learn a few things from Afghans.
Yogurt Marinated Chicken Kebab
Kebab e Murgh
3 cups plain, whole milk yogurt
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried, ground garlic
3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Put all the ingredients except the chicken in a large bowl and mix well. Add the chicken and mix until all pieces are covered with yogurt. Pour the contents of the bowl in a sealable plastic bag or a container with a tight lid. Marinate for at least 24 hours.
Pull the chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before you are going to grill. Get the barbecue good and hot. If you are using a gas grill, let it heat up for a good 10 minutes. In the meantime, pour the chicken into a colander and wipe the marinade off as best you can.
Grill the chicken over a medium-high flame about 7 minutes a side until it’s cooked through. Once cooked, wrap the chicken in aluminum foil and let it sit for 5 minutes. Serve warm.
More fabulous meals I consumed...