Authentic Afghan cuisine is right at home at Skewers of Temecula
By David Cohen
If you drove by Skewers of Temecula, you’d never guess it serves a treasure trove of authentic dishes from throughout Afghanistan.
The land-locked country is bordered on the south/southeast by Pakistan, by Iran on the west, and by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan on the north. Mountainous terrain extends from the northwest to the northeast.
In general, the food in the north tends not to be particularly spicy around Kabul, while further south near Kandahar, many dishes use chilies, particularly in areas closer to Pakistan. You’ll also find Iranian-style stews and pilaus (rice-based dishes) in the west. In the Hindu Kush at high elevations, people subsist on mountain goats, their milk and the cheese they produce. Vegetables and fruits, when available, have to be trucked in from Kabul.
I’ve not been to Afghanistan and venture that not many Americans other than State Department and, of course, military personnel, have, either. That said, if you haven’t eaten Afghan food, you’re in for a very distinctive experience.
The owners, who hail from Kabul, are Abdul Jabar Raishidi and his wife, Haida, and they will happily lead you through the menu. Photos of many of the dishes are posted along with descriptions and pricing. Portions are very generous.
Begin with a couple of appetizers: Shor nakhod is a blend of garbanzo beans and sliced potatoes served cold accompanied by chatni, a blend of homogenized vegetables in vinegar with a bit of finely diced chilies, reminding me flavorwise of a Chicago condiment, giardiniera. The vinegar does accentuate the spiciness, so use it in moderation.
Do not miss bolani, squares of Afghan bread (which very much resemble Indian naan) filled with sliced leeks and mashed potatoes — simple and delicious and made in-house. There is also a garlic yogurt sauce that you can dip the bolani into or drizzle on top of […]