Plate Tectonics – Afghanistan.

Plate Tectonics – Afghanistan.

On Thanksgiving, I had an idea.
I don’t have many ideas that thrill and delight, but this one was so supreme, I couldn’t wait to get started!

Someone asked me if they should see Chernobyl Diaries.
I, of course, told them that it was neither worth the time, or the disappointment.
I spent a great deal of my youth thinking about Chernobyl, and mutant life that came to be because of the disaster.
When I saw the previews for this movie at a viewing for some other horror flick, I was excite.
Blahablahblah, it was dumb, and they had so many possibilities, and it made me mad.
(i mean.. a bear? a bear runs through a building? it doesn’t even maul anyone!!!!!!)
End of story. DON’T EVER SEE IT.

So I begin ranting and raving about how I love Chernobyl, and I think about it often, though know next to nothing about it.
“Is it still abandoned like the movie makes it look?” My sister asked.
I read some things on the internet about it.
Yadda yadda yadda, they’re trying to get people to move back there.
But like.. Without eating or drinking anything. They’re working on that, too.
Still scary.

Long story not as short as I would like…
I’m looking at a map of that shit, and I’m like, “Kiev. That’s right there… Mmm… Chicken Kiev. Is that really from Kiev? I’d like to make that. I’d like to make that and put it in my face.”
And then it dawned on me!

And I’m going to learn some stuff.
I’ve been trying to think of activities to do for the blog..
My hiking days are all but halted due to abominable Wisconsin weather.
I can’t just post things I see, either. Or shows I go to.

I needed to be inspired.
What’s not inspiring about foods from around the world?
I need to create to make this an actual blog.

A few nights ago, I started with Afghanistan.
I decided that alphabetical would be best, so I wouldn’t be making the same kinds of foods for weeks..
(i know, i know.. there are very different regional dishes for each country and all that, i just thought this would bounce me all around)

The national dish in Afghanistan is Kabuli Pulao. A rice pilaf with meat, nuts, and carrots.
I also wanted to make dessert..
We only had 4 hours to cook, so it had to be something other than cookies, or baklavah..
So I settled on a carrot pudding called Halwa e Zardak.

We started by covering the lamb… leg hunk? Chunk-a-ewe? Steak? Do you call that a steak?
We covered it in garam masala, cumin, and salt.
Then seared the top and bottom.

The butcher told my friend to be careful not to sear the “fat cap.”
When my friend was explaining what a fat cap was, I motioned to the end of the meat..
Which had what looked to be a fatty hat on the end. Made sense to me..
Apparently, no. The fat cap wraps all around that steak thing.
It basically surrounds the whole leg, and the leg had just been sliced through.
I accidentally seared the fat cap.

When each side had been seared for 5-6 minutes, we transferred the meat to a roasting pan with coarsely chopped onions.
We tightly covered it with tinfoil, and put it in the oven at 300 degrees until the meat itself reached 160.

As soon as the meat was in, I started on the pudding.
I used matchstick carrots… Softened them in a stick of butter, then added sugar, milk, and cream.

I brought that to a boil, then reduced to a simmer for about 2 hours… Until the liquid had been absorbed.
I then added the cardamom and rosewater(WHAT WHAT)!

My friend has a rice cooker.
I do not have a rice cooker.
I have never had problems cooking rice, and never found a reason to purchase one.
Not to mention… I’m against buying most gadgets that do things any cook can do with a pot, or a spoon.
That being said…… When someone else has a rice cooker, I will use their rice cooker, so I don’t have to watch my rice.
The rice I forgot to buy.
Basmati rice is preferable, but I definitely used a mix of white and brown.

I put the rice, and beef stock in the cooker with a couple of pats of butter.

I sauteed some more matchstick carrots in coconut oil. Near the end, I added brown sugar, and set them aside.
Then the raisins until they poofed.

Then some almonds.. Until they were golden brown.
All set aside.

This lamb… We thought we had overcooked it.
Nope. Perfect. And delicious.

(I really have to get better about explaining things in the most effective way possible.. but I suppose that comes with time. Or reading. I could read other blogs. But I don’t. I only read my own stuff. True story.)

That rice cooker mushed up that rice good.
I don’t mind mushy rice, I guess, but I definitely prefer the nice stuff.
I should have added the spices(including the saffron…..)to the rice in the cooker..

Instead, we took a bit of broth from the lamb, and boiled the spices for about 15 minutes, then mixed it in the rice when it was done.

I added the carrots, almonds, and raisins, too.
The recipes I’ve read all call for pistachios(WHICH I LOVE), but they didn’t have ones that were shelled at the grocery store.
And fuck you if I’m going to shell them myself for a recipe.
For my mouth, yes. To chop? Fuck you again.
(my hands are sensitive!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I chopped the lamb into cubes, and added that, too.
Afghanistan in my mouth.

Both of these things were absolutely delicious. Despite the mushy rice, and no pistachios.
Can you call mushy rice ‘pilaf?’ I don’t think you can.

The carrot pudding was particularly mind-blowing.. Despite a mild panic attack that the milk had curdled/separated.
It all ended up coming together beautifully.
All in all, a pretty good start to this adventure.
Already planning on Albania.


Kabuli Pulao
2-3lbs lamb(steak?)
2 cups beef broth
2 cups water
2 cups basmati rice
1 onion
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp saffron
1 tsp salt
1 cup mixed raisins
1 cup almonds (or 1/2 almonds, 1/2 pistachios)
1/2 cup cooking oil.

Cook that lamb low and slow.
Toast up some carrots, almonds, and raisins.
Cook some rice with beef broth, and spices.
Throw all that shit together. BOOM. AFGHANISTAN.

Halwa e Zardak
2lbs carrots(matchstick, or grated)
2 cups milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp rosewater(to taste) (i was scared, so i did the bare minimum… but it could be increased.)
1 cup chopped toasted almonds (or half almond, half pistachio. DANG.)

Cook carrots in butter until tender.
Add milk, cream, sugar.
Bring to boil, then let simmer until liquid is gone, stirring frequently.
About 2 hours.
Add rosewater and cardamom.
Sprinkle with nutz.