Picnics and potato salad are as much a part of summer as sunshine and sand. But it’s been a long time since I’ve counted the typical American potato salad a part of my warm weather repasts. Heavy with mayonnaise, a bit of hard cooked egg, a diced onion, and so forth, it’s not the sort of thing that holds much appeal for me these days. Perhaps I know too much, like the calorie count of that much fat and starch in one bowl. If I’m going to indulge like that, I’d rather it be in the form of chocolate layer cake.
The Afghans have their own classic potato salad. It’s called shornakhod and has all the flavor (and then some) and none of the decadence of the American version. It is much more to my liking and couldn’t be simpler to make. Chickpeas are tossed with cooked potatoes while still warm, and then dressed with a puree of scallions, cilantro and vinegar. It’s tangy, unusual and a perfect thing to eat alongside summer’s other delectable offerings: barbecued chicken, grilled fish, beef kebabs, corn on the cob.
Feel free to serve Shornakhod right away, or let it chill for a few hours to allow all those flavors to come together. It's even good the next day. If you make a little extra dressing, it is a delicious sauce for kebabs.
Afghan Potato Salad with Cilantro Dressing
¾ pound Russet potatoes, cut in half
½ cup roughly chopped scallions, white and light green parts
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro (1 small bunch)
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
¾ tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 ½ cans chickpeas (15 oz cans)
Boil the potatoes in water until tender all the way through to the center when pierced with a knife. Drain. When cool enough to handle, slip the skins off the potatoes and cut into large, bite-size pieces.
While the potatoes are cooking, combine the scallions, cilantro, vinegar, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.
Empty the beans into a colander, rinse and drain. Put the beans and the potatoes into a bowl, pour on the dressing and mix well. Serve warm or cold.
Serves 4 - 6
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