Sunday, January 8, 2012

Global Sunday in Afghanistan

Greetings from the "Land of the Afghans!" Or at least refrigerator land.

Well it looks like my first Global Sunday was a success! I created a group on facebook for friends and family, where I will post invites to each sunday dinner with the country and menu list. I will have a contribution jar at each event, but the event has an open door policy and every one can chose to put in what they wish. 

Two of my friends came over to share the meal tonight, plus my mom, plus one of my friends stepdaughters. The stepdaughters are both preteens and very picky. They brought over their own dinner but by the end of the dinner they started to get a little curious and actually tried the Sabse Borani and Noni Afghani!

We didn't use our hands instead of utensils this time. I wanted to, but I felt like this would be a lot to ask my friends on their first meal. But there will be plenty of other meals to try it out! 

The menu:
Sabse Borani (Spinach Yogurt Dip)
Noni Afghani (Afghan Flatbread/Naan)
Burani Bonjon (Spicy Braised Eggplant) with 
Seer Moss (Lemon Garlic Yogurt Sauce) on top
Kabeli Palau (Basmati Rice with Chicken & Carrots)

Firnee (Cardamom & Rose Water Custard) for dessert

You can find all of the recipes for these dishes at: http://globaltableadventure.com/category/countries/afghanistan/

The one thing I was worried about was time management. I cooked six dishes, each with different prep duties, so I was afraid that I would overlook something or wait to long to start the next step. I found that post-its were my best friend! I didn't have six timers so every time I did something and I needed to let it sit I would add up the time and write the future time that I would need to check on the dish on a post-it. This takes a lot of close attention though, because it would be easy to forget something. 

I started around 1:00pm and finished around 5:45pm. Just in time to set the table before my friends arrived. 

The one thing I really struggled with was the dishes. I had two skillets and I could have used three. I felt like I used a lot of utensils poking, pushing and grabbing all the ingredient, and I had to use a mixer and a food processor. It was hard to clean as I went and my mom always taught me to clean as I cooked, so that when I'm done preparing the meal, I'm done for the night. I'm sure I will get better at juggling my cookwear soon enough though. 

Meal review:
Sabse Borani (Spinach Yogurt Dip): This was really easy! The two things that took the longest were draining the yogurt (which I had never done before OR heard of) and browning the onions. Once everything was drained and sautéed though, all I had to do was mix it all together. The yogurt gave the dip a unique tangy flavor. It went well with the Noni Afghani.

Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 3 

Noni Afghani (Afghan Flatbread/Naan): I was a bit worried about this one. I'm not really a baker. When it comes to measuring, I normally just use my own judgement. But I wanted to get this one right, so I followed the measurements and within an hour the bread grew 2x it's size, perfect!

Before you put the bread in the pan, you roll the bread with some cumin seeds. This was a hit with my friends, who had never had the actual seed before. It really did give the bread a very "earthy" taste!  

I was also unsure of how long to leave the bread in the pan.  The instructions said to cook about 1 minute on the first side, flip and cook until the second side is brown and aromatic. This will take about 2-4 minutes. The difference between 2 minutes and 4 minutes seemed like it would be the difference between too doughy and burnt, but once I started putting the dough in the pan and flipping it, I got the hand of it!

I will say though, that this isn't something I could eat all the time. It was yummy, but the idea of frying it in all that butter made me feel a little guilty!


Servings: 12
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 5

Burani Bonjon (Spicy Braised Eggplant) with Seer Moss (Lemon Garlic Yogurt Sauce): All I can say about this dish is YUM! I've been wanting to play around with eggplant and I couldn't believe how easy it was to fix. Just make sure to salt it first to take the bitter taste out!

Servings: 6
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 5


Kabeli Palau (Basmati Rice with Chicken & Carrots): This dish wasn't hard at all. A middle eastern take on chicken and rice. There are a lot of steps to it though. I boiled the chicken and used the broth, but you could illuminate a few steps by using store bought broth and pre-prepared chicken.

My favorite part about this dish was the garaham masala and saffron. I had to go to a little hole in the was indian store to find it. The smell of garaham masala, accompanied with the Afgan radio station in the background transported me to the ancient middle east. Exactly what I was looking for! 

Servings: 10
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 8







Firnee (Cardamom & Rose Water Custard): Global Table was right, this was the most unique dish of the bunch! I had to prepare my friends for this one. The western pallet really doesn't know what hit it. A few of my friends said that it was like they were eating soap or popery. After a while you can taste how sweet it really is and there is actually something comforting about it (well to me anyway!).

Servings: 4 (I would actually say 8, because it's very rich, so you don't need that much). 
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 10 (if you change the servings to 8, change the points value to 5) 


Tomorrow: Hungry Girl's H-O-T Hot Boneless Buffalo Wings

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