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 




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


  Winner of prestigious CBC Bookie Award

Your comments are welcome!

By Humaira

Shortly after my daugther Aria was born, fourteen years ago, I started a book club to create an incentive to read someting beside mind numbing picture books.  The women I recruited were moms I met at a mommy-baby gathering. Every month we bundled up our bundles of joy, and met at someone's home to discuss the book.  

Once the babies started crawling, and walking, we left them with Dad and met at restaurants for a coveted night of adult conversation and relaxed dining. Unfotunately five years ago the book club dissolved when driving carpools trumped reading.

Now, I live vicariously through friends who are still part of a book club or, women who write asking about Afghan dishes they can make for their discussion of Khaled Hosseini's books.

I love themed gatherings and nothing can be more fun than turning a book discussion into a cultural experience. So I decided to created a menu which will transport you into the world of Abdullah, Pari, Nila and all the wonderful characters in Khaled's most recent book, "And The Mountains Echoed."

When "And The Mountains Echoed" was first released, Khaled shared with readers of this blog his favorite foods.

Khaled's family is from Herat, a province in Western Afghanistan that has delicious regional dishes which I've yet to try: Qolor toroosh, Ishkana, Kichiri gosht landi, and Pati mash.

To this day Jeja, my mom, talks about the delicious foods Khaled's mom used to make when our families lived near each other in the Bay Area during the 80's.  Jeja is not one to give fellow cooks undeserved recognition. 

Although this menu does not have recipes from Herat, I have chosen traditonal dishes that are complementary, travel well and are perfect for pot lucks.  I hope you will experience the wonders of Afghanistan through Khaled's beautiful words and my recipes.


Afghan women picnicing Photo: Lynsey Addario

"And The Mountains Echoed"

An Afghan Feast For Your Gathering


Laghataq, Creamy eggplant dip with pita chips

Bolani, Afghan potato, scallion bread 


Lawang, Turmeric braised chicken

Sabzi, Slow cooked spinach

Kadu, Braised butternut squash

Challaw, Afghan rice

Salata, Afghan salad

Warm pita bread (optional)


Halwa e Zardak, Rosewater carrot pudding

Black raisins, almonds and walnuts in separate bowls


Chai, Afghan cardamom tea

Your comments are welcome!