by Christi Qazi / June 05, 2007
Section last updated on June 10, 2018
The type of food served in Afghan cuisine is quite unique. It has been well documented that the foods, tastes, and spices of Afghan food are a rather tasteful blend of the regions that surround Afghanistan. Unlike food from its neighbors to the east, the spices used in Afghan dishes, are neither too hot nor pungent, and in contrast to its western neighbors, Afghan food is not bland. In fact, many western travelers find the foods of Afghanistan a perfect blend of exoticness and good taste.
Cooking and food have a very important role in Afghan culture. Unexpected guests might be seen as rude or an imposition in western culture, but not in Afghan culture. Guests are revered and even in families, people often just drop in with little or no notice, and to not have food for them would be unheard of even in the most spur of the moment situations. Coming away from an Afghan table hungry is simply never happens, no matter how little preparation time the host has.
The types of food served are also symbolic, for example, Qaabuli Pallow is the crown of Afghan cooking and served to special guests or on special occasions such as weddings. Leeti (Leetee) is served to new mothers because of its easiness on the stomach, yet high nutritive value. Dogh, a type of yogurt drink, is best enjoyed on a hot summer’s day and Mahi (fish) is served during Nowroz (New Year). Even eggs are prepared in a special way so that a guest is well nourished when they wake up. Afghans also believe that food is elemental in nature, and can produce hot or cold, or be neutral in the body. Food is well appreciated and even has special meaning, for example, stepping on a piece of dropped bread or naan is considered sinful.
Afghans take great pride in their cooking and are very happy to see everyone full and satisfied. Afghan cooking is not about exact measurements, and many of the ingredients can be substituted to achieve a similar taste. The amount of all of the spices can be adjusted to suit your individual taste. No two Afghans prepare the same dish exactly the same. Creativity is another element that contributes to the wonderful medley of flavors that make up Afghan cooking. Prepare these recipes with love and Nosh-e- Jaan, or good eating.