One of my all time desires is to be a travel show host. I know everyone has this dream. How original, Purva! You get to travel, eat, be on TV and get paid! I mean, what could be a better job? Maybe be a food taster on Masterchef Australia..
But you know what is truly special? When food travels to you. A couple of weeks ago, I met Qadir, an Afghan student in Pune through a friend. During my undergrad, I had a lot of Afghan students in my class. According to me, they are the most genuine, large hearted and helpful people. I would always talk to them about how I wanted to visit Afghanistan. The food, the culture, the people have always intrigued me and if I ever got the opportunity I would grab it with both hands.
During our dinner with Qadir, I couldn’t help but speak to him about the conversations I had with my Afghan classmates. Like the time when one of them asked me- “What do Indians mean when they ask me if I am a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian? What do you mean by vegetarian? You don’t eat ANY meat?!”
Qadir also spoke about the culture, the way things have changed in Afghanistan and how he wants to contribute to this change in his country. During these intense conversations, Qadir couldnt help but notice I was so inquisitive about the kind of food they make in Afghanistan. Then there it was! An invitation to my friend and me- “Sunday my place for some yummy Kabuli
” he said. The gluttons that we are, we agreed in a jiffy.
The very next day, there we were, in Qadir’s cozy apartment in Pune, after a tiny breakfast to take on the Kabuli. The minute we entered his apartment we could smell the gorgeous aroma of the Kabuli. He told us we’d have to wait half an hour, so he brought out an assortment of dry fruits and two cups of Afghan tea while we waited. It was pleasure to watch Qadir cook, we could tell he was pouring his heart in to that Kabuli. We kept peeping in to the vessel every couple of minutes and couldn’t help but admire how scrumptious that Kabuli was turning out to be, . “It’s my mother’s recipe. She explained it to me on the phone. She was very impressed that I was wanting to learn and prepare it.” he said.
Then there it was. Half an hour later, he opens the lid and my friend and I let out a sigh when we saw it. It was perfect. We sat on the floor and he brought out a big plate and we all ate in one plate, just like they do in Afghanistan. It was one of the yummiest and most amazing meals of my life. We sat there eating for an hour, even though we were full, our hands wouldn’t stop.
That afternoon, I realised how beautiful it is to be able to experience a different culture in your city through a meal. Qadir was really sweet to share the recipe with me and here it goes. You’ve gotta try it!
- Oil- 5 tbsp
- Basmati rice- 1/2 kg
- Onions- 4
- Tomatoes- 4
- Chicken- 500 gms
- Salt to taste
- Garlic – 3 cloves crushed
- Carrots – 2 (cut into thin julienne)
- Raisins – 2 tbsp
- Wash & soak the rice (three hours prior)
- Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pressure pan, add onions and fry till golden brown
- Add the tomatoes
- Add the chicken and fry on high heat for 3-4 minutes
- Add salt, crushed garlic and 2 tbsp water and cook for about 3-4 whistles or till done. Keep aside
- Take 2 tbsp oil in a pan and fry the carrots till slightly brown. Drain and keep aside
- Fry the raisins in the same oil for 2 min, drain and keep aside
- Strain the rice and add it in the vessel
- Cover it with water and let it steam
- When the rice is half done, add the chicken, the raisins and carrots and let it steam until it’s completely cooked
- Serve with a salad