Kabuli Pulao – Afghan rice and carrot pilaf with lamb

I was inspired to cook this Afghan dish in the aftermath of the United States military withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the resultant displacement of many Afghans from their homeland. Many communities, including mine, are coming together to support our Afghan brothers and sisters. My small contribution will be to teach two cooking classes showcasing Aghanistan’s rich cuisine to raise awareness and funds for refugees arriving in the US. More information about the classes below.

Kabuli Pulao is considered to be Afghanistan’s national dish, and traditionally was served only on special occasions. As with many popular dishes, there are regional varieties, and the dish is often personalized according to taste and the availability of specific ingredients. Lamb tends to be the primary protein, but it is also customary to cook it with beef or chicken.

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Khoresh Gol Kalam – Beef and cauliflower stew

خورش گل کلم

Long before the humble cauliflower became a trendy superfood, Iranians were cooking it into stews (Khoresh), egg-based dishes (Kuku), and even pickles (Torshi).

Like many Iranian stews, this is an especially simple dish with only a few ingredients. Nevertheless, there are certain culinary techniques that bring out a spectacularly deep range of flavors.

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Tas Kabob – Meat and vegetable stew

تاس کباب

Tas Kabob is the ultimate one-pot comfort food. This dish is as effortless as layering all the ingredients in a pot, covering it, and cooking it until the vegetables have softened and the flavors come together.

There are many traditions behind this dish. Once upon a time this was truly a celebration of the Fall, when root vegetables would be layered in the pot along with either beef or lamb, and cooked until every ingredient had become soft and tender.

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Reshteh Polo – Rice layered with noodles, raisins and dates

رشته پلو

Reshteh Polo: another signature Persian dish that blends familiar ingredients and brings them together in an unpredictable and distinctive way!

This rice dish has it all! Dates and raisins; onions and toasted noodles; saffron and rose water; cinnamon and turmeric. Finished off with a crispy bread Tahdig, and served with slow cooked lamb shanks in a rich broth to bring it all together! Though this dish can be consumed year-round, it is most often associated with Persian New Year celebration.

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Khoresh Zereshk – Barberry and saffron lamb stew

خورش زرشک

What are these bright red, tart, sharp, tangy, mouth puckering berries? Well – they’re Iran’s very own barberries!

This stew showcases the prized barberries, which are sweetened with grape molasses and paired with lamb that is cooked in a seasoned tomato sauce until the meat falls off the bone. To make this more of a visual feast, it is then topped with lightly sauteed slivered almonds and pistachios and rose petals.

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Khoresh Nokhodchie – Chickpea and lamb meatballs in tomato-mint sauce

خورش نخودچی

I seem to spend a lot of time thinking about Isfahan these days. So I started searching online and paging through cookbooks for inspiration to see what intriguing and tasty dish I could come up with to share.

This is a simple Isfahani stew that once again has familiar elements such as lamb, chickpeas (in this case in the form of flour), tomatoes and spices, that are combined in a unique and surprising manner to create an extraordinary flavor profile and texture.

More about Isfahan:

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Dolmeh-ye piaz -Stuffed onions with beef, rice and herbs

دلمه پیاز


Caution: you must be an onion lover to proceed!

Name a culture, and you will quickly realize how many dishes start with some member of the onion family. Onions and all of their relatives are cherished and celebrated in Iranian culture. The onion family includes red, white and yellow onions, green onions, garlic, leeks, garlic chives and shallots. And in Iran, you also have Museer, which is an Iranian variety of shallot that most closely resembles elephant garlic, as well as Tarreh, which is a cross between American leeks and green onions. In the US these ingredients are available dried at Persian markets.

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Khoresh Gheymeh ba Beh – Lamb stew in tomato saffron sauce with caramelized quince

خورشت قیمه با به

Quince is an ancient fruit that finds its origin in the Mediterranean and Middle East region, which offers the perfect climate for the tree to flourish. Quince is quite tart, dense and aromatic, and is typically not eaten raw; it is rather cooked in stews or baked in desserts or jams.

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Havij Polo -Saffron rice and carrots

هویج پلو

Havij polo is not just another Persian rice dish. It’s rather an experience and a destination, much like getting a stamp on your passport at the end of an exotic journey! This dish is truly a journey of colors and flavors!

Though there’s quite a variety of rice pilaf dishes in Persian cuisine, there are probably 10 that most Iranians would be able to list without even thinking. Havij Polo is right up there in my top 5 list of Persian rice dishes.

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Shami-e Lapeh -yellow split pea and beef patties

شامی لپه

In the West, we have the burger with all its glorious variations. In Iran, we have the Shami with many regional influences. Shami resembles a donut, with a hole in its center.

In the North of Iran, there is the green Shami, in which the beef patty is packed with fresh herbs and creamy walnuts. This variety, however, integrates spices into the meat, which is then mixed with cooked yellow split peas and processed in a food processor to create a smooth and creamy texture. Finally, it’s fried to golden perfection!

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