Most people associate Afghan food with kebabs, palau, or kadu, Afghanistan's famous braised pumpkin. But there is definitely more to Afghan food than just these dishes. We have great noodle dishes, an array of rice dishes and a big selection of vegetable dishes which can be made with meat or vegetarian.
I find Afghan food to be very flavorful -- accented with subtle spices. I am frequently asked if Afghan food is spicy like Indian food. The answer is NO. Some Afghans love spicy food so they make various kinds of accompaniments such as cilantro chutney, red pepper chutney, and pickled vegetables with pepper to add the extra zing.
Onions are the base for most Afghan dishes, which explains why Jeja (my mom) always buys the 10 pound bag of onions from Costco.
Spinach (sabzi) is a simple and very flavorful vegetarian dish that you can eat with challaw (white rice), or nan - flat bread and yogurt. In fact, I had sabzi with yogurt and pita for dinner last night. It's a great source of iron and other nutrients. Afghans love to eat sabzi with lamb but in this post I will share a meatless version for my vegetarian friends.
I have included fenugreek (holba) as an optional ingredient. I love the flavor and scent that fenugreek gives sabzi, but some people just hate it. For a more authentic flavor use the fenugreek.
This dish can be made in 30-45 minutes but if you are able to let it cook longer the flavors will be richer and the sabzi will have a wonderful creamy texture.
Qorma e Sabzi
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
6 oz green onions (use entire onion, white and green parts, chopped
1 tsp. ground fenugreek (optional)
2 lbs. frozen, chopped spinach, not defrosted
1 tbsp. dried dill
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. lemon or lime juice
In a large deep pan heat the oil on medium-high and saute the onions until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the fenugreek and cook for another minute. Add the frozen spinach and cook on medium heat, stirring regularly, until it defrosts and the liquid comes to a boil (about 15 minutes). If the defrosted spinach does not produce any liquid, add a few tablespoons of water to the pan. Once the spinach boils, add the remaining ingredients. Stir thoroughly and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the liquid has decreased. Keep an eye on the pot so it doesn't dry out. If it does, just add little water or chicken/vegetable broth.
Note: If you want this dish to be extra flavorful, after you've followed this recipe, add 1 cup of vegetable or chicken broth to the spinach and continue to cook it for another 30 minutes.