Afghanistan is a country located in central Asia, between Iran and Pakistan. Full of snowy mountains and dry deserts, the winters are very cold, so food is scarce. As you likely know, the country has a history of war, and so times are often hard, especially during times when the Taliban has ruled, and the country has also been frequently invaded by other countries. This has left many issues such as refugees, starvation (including animals) and bombed schools with unexploded land mines, which harm both humans and animals. With over 30 million people, Afghanistan is a large country, yet the country’s population has a very low life expectancy of just 44 years old.
Kabuli Palau (Blooming with Flavors) is the national dish of Afghanistan. Serve with a leek and capsicum stew and top with vegan yogurt sauce.
As you can imagine, most of the food uses local cheap ingredients, spiced up considerably. Rice is the main carbohydrate, mixed with vegetables, bulgur wheat and herbs, with lentils and other cheap plant ingredients helping to provide protein. Kebabs are also popular street food. Many desserts use apricots, dates and fresh dill. Here are some plant-based recipes based on traditional Afghan dishes.
Vegan Kebabs (Loving it Vegan) are made with tofu and fresh vegetables. Grilled to your taste, they are also marinated in a nice sauce.
Vegan Yogurt Sauce (Simple Vegan Blog) is a nice basic recipe to replicate the standard minty yogurt that is often served with Afghan meals, to cool down the spice. This uses homemade or store-bought yogurt with dried mint and garlic powder (easier to digest than fresh).
Vegan Raita (Rainbow Plant Life) is a similar recipe. Although Indian, this is a good substitue for Afghan minty yogurt.
Vegan Desserts from Afghanistan
Afghan Pudding with Almonds & Cardamom (Blooming with Flavors) is made with heated milk, spices (cinnamon) and sugar. Top with almonds or pistachios.
Pistachio Cardamom Lemon Drizzle Cake (So Vegan) takes the traditional English tea cake to the Middle East. No vegan butter needed for this cake, it’s made with mild vegetable oil along with real cardamom pods and peeled pistachios to decorate (along with vegan powdered sugar – SUMA and Wholesome! are good brands in the UK and US respectively).
Vegan Cardamom Rose Cupcakes (Short Girl, Tall Order) are pretty as a picture. Cardamom has notes of citrus, mint and spice for a delicious take on conventional vanilla cake.
Chocolate, Beetroot & Rosewater Cheesecakes (Plant Based Baker) are ideal for a special romantic meal. These mini cakes are direct from Cupid to finish a date.
A New Name for ‘Afghan Biscuits’
If you live in New Zealand, you are likely familiar with the cookies previously known as ‘Afghan Biscuits’. Due to a recent change of heart where government are re-classifiying certain words, it appears this is no longer their name. It is thought the biscuit was named due to a reference to the First Afghan war, but others say there may have been racist understones. After the murder of American black man George Floyd, the company that makes the official biscuit announced it would re-name the product, which has led to many recipes online now swiftly following suit. They are now called ‘milk chocolate roughs’, which of course is a name that also has to be changed!