Afghanistan is the faraway land calling to us to come visit this month!
I’m really excited about the menu I’ve prepared and tested for you. We’ll start with Afghan “Nachos,” for a quick and easy appetizer, followed by the most delicious lamb dish ever, Lamb Kebab with Cinnamon, accompanied by Afghan Flat Bread. Ridiculously easy Afghan Butter Cookies round out the meal.
But let’s talk about that lamb! It is very easy to make and serve. Lamb, yogurt, and onions marinate overnight and then braise in the oven. Done! I am already greedily thinking about the leftovers in my fridge and enjoying them for lunch.
I was delighted to discover the blog “Afghan Culture Unveiled,” the source for the recipes this month. Humaira Ghilzai is the founder and author of the site. Her recipes are authentic Afghan dishes created for the modern cook. The recipes are inspired by her mom Jeja, and sisters Nabila and Zohra. Please visit her website, http://www.afghancultureunveiled.com, for more information, delicious recipes and beautiful photography.
Humaira also co-founded Afghan Friends Network, and instituted a Sister City relationship between Hayward, California and Ghazni, Afghanistan. Dining for Women was proud to support Afghan Friends Network several years ago. Humaira continues to spearhead critical programs that improve education for women, girls and boys, particularly in the province of Ghazni.
As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments about the recipes J firstname.lastname@example.org
Tender Lamb Kebab with Cinnamon (Kebab Daygee) (Tested)
Serves 4 to 6
In our Western culture, we automatically assume that anything referred to as a “kebab” comes on a stick! But in Afghanistan it seems, kebabs can be virtually anything: meat or chicken, skewered or not, barbecued or oven baked or pan fried, cut into chunks, ground, or eaten as a chop. Perhaps we can assume that any type of meat that is cut into chunks qualifies as a kebab?
Whatever unorthodox form it takes, this delicious combination of lamb, onions and cinnamon is meant to be devoured and scooped up with slabs of fresh steaming naan. This dish is incredibly easy to make – marinate, then bake. Take note that it marinates overnight, but marinating in the morning to bake in the evening works well, too. I purchased a piece of lamb shoulder and cut my meat into chunks. Lamb shoulder has nice marbling and makes for a very tender cut. You could use lamb stew meat as well, which is a combination of different cuts of lamb.
I will be making this dish again and again, it ranks as one of the best lamb dishes I’ve ever had. And DON’T forget the cinnamon. Sprinkle liberally with plain ground cinnamon once you’ve put the lamb into the serving dish. Serve with a platter of crunchy cucumbers, a green salad, or see this recipe previously posted for tomato salad.
¾ cup Greek yogurt, or whole-milk yogurt
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 ½ lbs. lamb stew meat, cut into 2-inch chunks (I used lamb shoulder cut up)
2 large onions, peeled, sliced thin
In a large bowl mix together the yogurt, oil, garlic, coriander, pepper and salt and stir well. Add the lamb and onions and coat evenly with the yogurt mixture. Cover and marinate overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pull the lamb out a half hour before you a ready to cook. Put the lamb into large pot or Dutch oven and cover with a lid. Put it into the oven and cook until the lamb is very tender (about 1¼ to 1½ hours). Remove the lid, give it a stir, and continue to cook another 20 to 30 minutes until some of the liquid has reduced and you have a thick, oniony sauce.
Turn the meat onto a platter and sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Serve with warm naan bread and plain yogurt. You can season the yogurt with a little salt and stir in some grated cucumbers or chopped mint if you like.
Recipe submitted by Linda McElroy, created by Humaira Ghilzai, used with permission. http://www.afghancultureunveiled.com
Photo credit: Afghan Culture Unveiled Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license.