Food is one way for people from all different walks of life to connect, which is one of the reasons I enjoy writing this blog. It is read by people the world-over, some of whom know everything about Afghanistan, others who know nothing. The hope is that raising awareness about even the most rudimentary aspect of this tiny Central Asian country will foster appreciation for its culture and people.
Literature is a bit like food in this way. Novels about Afghanistan and Afghan people are a little window into their universe; it's another way to bridge the enormous divide of geography, religion, politics and so on.
We are thrilled to share this book with you since it brings literature, along with a little taste of Afghan food, together in one lovely story. Written by Deborah Rodriguez, author of the best-selling memoir, "The Kabul Beauty School," the story is set in an Afghan coffee shop. It follows the stories and struggles of a circle of women trying to survive in one of the most dangerous parts of the world.
The book's editor in Australia contacted us some time back and asked if they could feature a few of our recipes in the novel. "Of course!," we said. The official launch is next week. It debuts in Australia first, and later here in the States under the title, "A Cup of Unlikely Stories." If you can't wait until then, you can order it on Kindle beginning February 1.
An initial glance at the book looks terrific. I'm holding off to read it on my next holiday in a few weeks. You don't have to wait to try the recipes, however. Below is one of them: an Afghan butter cookie that is the perfect sort of sweet to enjoy with a cup of tea on a cold winter afternoon, here or across the globe in Afghanistan.
Afghan Butter Cookies
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened to room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg whites
2 cups white rice flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup coarsely-chopped pistachios
1/4 cup shelled whole pistachios
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the egg whites and mix until smooth. Gradually add the rice flour, cardamom and pistachios. Mix well. Scoop up a tablespoon of dough and set on a cookie sheet (ungreased is ok). Flatten the dough with the palm of your hand. The cookie will not rise or spread during cooking.
Press the back of a fork into the dough, making a criss-cross with the tines of the fork (like you would with a peanut butter cookie). If the fork begins to stick, dip it in a glass of cold water from time to time. Place a pistachio in the center of the cookie. Continue with the remainder of the dough, setting the cookies 1 ½ inches apart.
Bake for 12-14 mintues. Let it cool before eating.
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