Bolani and Raita
I have previously posted about ‘Aushak and Bolani‘- what I know to be traditional Afghan dishes. Aushak are a vegetable filled dumpling, usually using green onions or leeks, and Bolani are a stuffed flat bread (usually vegetarian too).
These dishes are a little time consuming to make, especially if you are making the dough yourself, so I cheat by buying frozen dumpling wrappers from the Chinese supermarket! There are local Afghan restaurants that sell these dishes but they are quite expensive, for what is basically vegetables wrapped in dough! So I usually make them at home, having a stock in the freezer for when the taste buds are calling…
Bolani Wrapping- seal with some water around the edges. The filling is cooked mashed potato, green onions and spinach with chilli flakes and ground spices
Bolani- finished and ready to cook straight away or freeze for a later date
Bolani: sprayed with vegetable oil and baked in a hot oven for 10 minutes on each side
Bolani are more traditionally pan fried in oil and soak up quite a lot of oil in the process. By spritzing the Bolani on both sides with a spray oil, it is much healthier and the dough gets nice and crunchy around the edges. By using these dumpling wrappers, they are also ideal for a small starter or snacks for guests. Less messy that larger flat breads too… Serve with whatever chutney or sauce you fancy!
Aushak Wrapping- Filling of cooked spinach and leeks with various ground spices and sealing the edges with water
Aushak- lined up ready for the freezer
Aushak can be served either steamed or boiled, with a lentil or ground meat based sauce. I didn’t get a picture of the cooked result this time though…
Traditional home cooked Chinese food is quite different to what your local Chinese take away or restaurant in the UK usually offers. Dinners at home are served ‘family style’ where there are several dishes in the middle of the table for everyone to pick at. There is usually one fish, one meat and a vegetable dish, all served with steamed jasmine rice. Though this can vary depending on the numbers of people eating and how much time you have to cook.
Braised chicken with chestnuts, and variations of it, is a family favourite. I’ve made it a couple of times for British friends as a way of introducing traditional Chinese home cooking and it’s always been well received! As it is a heavy dish full of strong flavours, it’s best to serve with simple greens and some kind of steamed fish. However since I cooked it for just two people at lunch, we just had it with plain steamed rice.
I took this recipe from the Every Grain of Rice cook book and rediscovered how much of a pleasure it is to cook from a book! No need to keep running over to my laptop to check ingredients or turning the screen saver off my phone when I’ve forgotten the next step…
I adapted the recipe slightly as I had no spring onions so used leeks instead. I used chicken leg quarters chopped up, and deep fried leeks in a little corn flour to add a final crispy finishing touch for texture and appearance sake.
I would recommend this Every Grain of Rice cook book to anyone who wants to learn some basic Chinese family recipes!