Cookbook 170: Parwana

Oh my god, I don’t generally gush straight up about the cookbook that I cooked from but Parwana: Recipes and Stories from an Afghan Kitchen by Durkhanai Ayubi and Farida Ayubi is amazing. This is not just a cookbook, it’s an insight into Afghanistan, family, making a new home, and more. The recipes are grouped by themes instead of ingredients, so the chapter titles are beautifully poetic, “Roots & Belonging”, “The Dissipation of a Dream” and “The Plight of the Displaced” as an example. Parwana is a restaurant in Adelaide (even more of a reason to go there), and the cookbook features some of the food served at the restaurant. It’s a very generous book, both in serving sizes and in letting the reader in on the story of the family.

Every single dish I cooked from this book was amazing. Each one was declared the best they’d ever tasted of that kind of dish. This is how amazing this book is. 5 out of 5 starts, go and get your copy already.

Tokhme Banjanromi Afghan Breakfast Eggs (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 250ml sunflower oil (we used 1/4 cup – approx 60ml)
  • 1 large brown onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh, long red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • Coarsely chopped fresh coriander leaves, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over high heat and fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until softened and browned. Add the tomato and fresh chilli, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato is softened, but still intact, then stir in 2 teaspoons of salt, or to taste to combine.
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl then pour evenly over the tomato and onion mixture in the saucepan. Break up the egg yolks lightly if that’s how you prefer them, then cover the pan with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and cook the eggs slowly, shaking the pan occasionally to avoid sticking for 5 – 10 minutes, or 10 – 15 minutes for medium soft, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, the chilli powder and coriander to taste, and serve hot – straight from the pan.

Notes on this recipe:

  • A delicious way to have eggs at any time of day. It’s pretty straightforward and easy to make, so don’t be afraid if you want interesting eggs
  • We reduced the oil because we could. I’m not going to judge you for using a lot of oil, it will make the dish taste a little different, but with a non-stick pan like we were using, we decided to reduce it overall.
  • I’ve been tempted to make this again because it is delicious, and I probably will this week since it is quick and tasty.

Gosfand Lawang Yoghurt-braised lamb (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 110g yellow split peas
  • 250ml sunflower oil (we used half a cup – 125ml)
  • 1 large brown onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated/crushed
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 3 fresh long red chillies, thinly sliced, plus extra, halved lengthways to serve
  • 130g plain yoghurt
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1kg lamb shoulder, bone in, diced
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1 lime or lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves

Method:

  1. Cover the split peas with water in a bowl and set aside to soak for 2 hours. Drain the water from the split peas and parboil them in 500ml fresh water in a saucepan over high heat for 8 – 10 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large wok over high heat and fry the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli for 2 minutes, or until tender and fragrant. Stir in the yoghurt, turmeric, 1 tablespoon of salt (or to taste) and 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper to combine.
  3. Reduce the heat to low-medium then add the lamb and split peas to the wok and cook for 30 minutes, or until the lamb is cooked through and tender when pierced, the split peas are soft and the sauce has thickened. Stir in the tomato to combine and cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes, or until the tomato softens.
  4. Serve straight from the wok, with the lime or lemon slices, red onion, coriander and extra chilli alongside.

Notes on this recipe:

  • I used lamb leg, because I had a stack of it left from when I cooked from Ethiopia, cooking with lamb shoulder (somewhat fattier, and including the bones) would have made this dish more flavourful, however it was already incredibly delicious – and this from a person who doesn’t like peas (at all, ever). This dish was so delicious, the left overs were eaten for lunch the next work day, and enjoyed all over again.
  • I would love to make this again and to try the other lamb curries in the book – and to consider making it with goat.

Dahl (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 410g red split lentils
  • 125ml sunflower oil
  • 2 brown onions, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped/crushed
  • 1 fresh long red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 4 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp chaar masalah (see below)

Method:

  1. Add the lentils and 1.5L of water to a saucepan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the lentils are softened. Drain in a colander, discarding the water, and set aside in the saucepan.
  2. In a separate saucepan, heat the oil over high heat and fry the onions for 5 minutes, or until they are golden brown (that’s about 15 minutes in that much oil). Add the garlic and chilli and fry for a further 2 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Add the tomato and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 – 3 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the spices and 1 tablespoon of salt (or to taste) and cook for a further 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  3. Add the lentils and 1 litre of water (we used 500ml of water, it’s easy to add more water, difficult to take it out) and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 – 8 minutes, or until the dahl has thickened and absorbed all the flavours in the sauce. To serve, ladle the dahl into a serving bowl and garnish with fresh coriander and curry leaves.

Chaar Masalah (makes 1 cup)

Ingredients:

  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 dried bay leaves
  • 7 brown/black cardamom pods
  • 1 1/2 tbsp green cardamom pods
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cloves

Method:

  1. Dry-roast all the ingredients in a non-stick frying pan over low heat for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Keep a close eye on them and shake the pan frequently so they don’t burn. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. Once cooled, transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, and grind into a fine powder
  3. Store chaar masala in a tightly sealed jar, where it will keep for up to 6 months. But note, that the potency of the mix corresponds to its freshness, so it’s best used within a few weeks of being made.

Notes on this recipe:

  • The dahl was crowned the best dahl that people had ever eaten (and with two vegetarians at the table, a lot of dahl had been sampled about the place). It was beautifully flavoured, the chaar masalah really added a great lift to this dish.
  • I’m planning on making this again this week as it was so good and I have the chaar masalah just sitting there, looking at me.

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