Katie (co-founder of this blog) and I had a lot of fun applying recognizable food terms to Afghan dishes: aushak became Afghan dumpling, falooda became Afghan sundae and sabzi became braised spinach.
Wanting to lose nothing in translation, we fretted over qorma and kebabs since there is no easy way to classify these dishes for a westerner. Most people know kebabs as meat on skewers, but in Afghanistan kebabs take many shapes and forms. Do piazza is one of these hard to classify dishes. It is considered a kebab in Afghan cuisine, but I am calling Do piazza a stew since it is served with its broth after being slow cooked until the meat is tender. The broth brings the key flavors as it adds an extra dimension to the meal when poured over the meat, the lentils and the bread. Do piazza (which mean two onions) is one of my favorite Afghan dishes because it is healthy, hearty and easy to serve as a meal. No side dishes needed. I recently acquired the recipe from Jeja (my mom) fulfilling a reader’s request for this recipe. Do piazza will become a go-to recipe for my parties and busy days of running around since it is also perfect for the slow cooker.
I used beef here but you may substitute lamb. Give this one-bowl dish a try; it will be a hit with the kids. Even my daughter Aria liked the dish.
Stew meat cleaned and cut into 2 1/2-3 inches so it can hold up during the slow cooking
One-Bowl Afghan Meat Stew
3 pounds bone-in beef stew cut in 3-inch squares
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, diced
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons salt, divided
4 cups water
1 medium red onion, cut into thin rings
2 cups white distilled vinegar
1 cup yellow lentils
Wash the beef thoroughly and let the water drip or pat dry with paper towel.
In a heavy bottom-stewing pan add olive oil and heat on medium-high. Add the yellow onions and fry until golden brown, around 15 minutes. Add the garlic, mix well and cook for another 3 minutes while stirring. Add the meat, one tablespoon of salt, turmeric and black pepper to the pan. Mix well by stirring for a couple of minutes. Add the water, cover and bring to a boil, around 10 minutes. Turn down the heat to low, cover and let it simmer until the meat is tender and easy to cut with a fork. Depending on the quality and size of your meat, this could take 1 ½ to 2 hours. Keep an eye on the stew so the broth doesn’t dry up. If the water reduces too much, add water, half a cup at a time. When the stew is cooked, there should be around 2-3 cups of broth left.
While the meat is cooking, mix the vinegar and 1 tablespoon of salt in a bowl, add the red onion and let it marinate until the meat is done. Make sure that the vinegar covers the onions, if not add more vinegar. You can do this ahead of time, the flavors of the onions will develop better the longer it marinates. The onions will be used as garnish.
In a small saucepan, add the lentils, 3-4 cups of water and ½ tablespoon of salt, cover and bring to a boil. Cook on medium heat until the lentils are soft, around 20 minutes. Drains and return to the saucepan. Add the 1 1/2 cups of the beef broth. Simmer for another five minutes.
Blanket a large serving platter with one or two lavash bread. Place the meat, the lentils and the onions in piles next to each other on the lavash bread, pour one cup of the broth over the meat, lentils and bread. Cut the rest of the lavash bread in pieces to be served on the side of the dish. Do piazza is mostly served by itself. It is a lot of fun to use your hands to eat this dish.
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