The Participant Observer Recipe of the Month is: Afghan Ravioli known as Aushak. A delicious pasta dish that eaten for special occasions. It can be made entirely vegetarian or prepared with a beef or lamb sauce. Tangy yogurt sauce give this dish an unique taste.
Aushak (also spelled Ashak), is a traditional Afghan dish made of savory dumplings that are covered with a tomato sauce, yogurt and dried mint. This dish is often referred to as 'Afghan Ravioli.' It can be made vegetarian or with beef or lamb. The combination of the tangy yogurt sauce with the savory ravioli and tomato sauce is what makes this dish so unique and delicious. Aushak hails from the city and region surrounding Kabul. The raviolis are filled with gandana greens, also called tareh in Persian. They are part of the Elephant Garlic family and are similar to common chives, although larger and flatter. They are sometimes known as Persian or Chinese chives.
The yogurt sauce consists of kashk (which is made from drained sour milk or yogurt and then dried) and labneh (thick yogurt that has been strained to remove its whey) to create a very tangy topping. Labneh is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine. It can often substitute for cream cheese, such as on bagels. If you're feeling ambitious, you can find a recipe online and make your own labneh. Pasta is called khameerbob in Afghanistan. A reasonable substitute is East Asian gyoza wrappers, which are used for this recipe. Khameerbob is rather labor intensive, which is why in Afghanistan aushak is reserved for special occasions. The raviolis can also be assembled and cooked ahead of time and stored in your refrigerator or freezer. How the ravioli is folded and the range of ingredients used varies from cook to cook—feel free to experiment. Alternative ingredients are suggested for the most authentic taste. Purchase the original ingredients from an international market.
Ingredients:Note: Gandana chives, kashk and labneh can all be purchased at the Balboa International Market, Sahel Bazaar or North Park Produce.
- 1 packet round gyoza wrappers (we like Hong Kong brand best—available at 99 Ranch Market). Square wonton wrappers may also be used.
- 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves
- 2 to 3 bunches chopped gandana(or leeks, chives or scallions), Gandana/tareh is available at
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 to 6 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1/4 cup corn oil or vegetable oil
- 1/2 lb ground beef or lamb
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 orange bell pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 6 large tomatoes, or one 14.5-ounce can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
- 3 tablespoons kashk
- 1/3 small container of labneh (if kashk isn't available, mix equal parts labneh and yogurt)
- 1 teaspoon water
- 2 tablespoons dried mint (or more to taste) to sprinkle on top. (Note: some recipes call for fresh mint)
Based on recipe submitted by Farida and Leslie Dufour
Check out their international cuisine site at: Culture and Cuisine.
Photos by Hilary Dufour.
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