Eight years ago when Katie (co-founder of this blog) and I first met over a pot of Afghan noodle soup (aush) she was very curious about Afghan food and recipes. I must say, I longed to be her friend but the food questions were way over my head so I avoided her. Finally, my mom Jeja was over at my house and I asked her if she would show me how to make a few Afghan dishes including mashawa. She agreed, so I quickly called Katie and invited her to a cooking session in the middle of the morning at my house.
I had no idea how this would work since cooking as a community was not part of my upbringing, infact Jeja had never taken the time to teach me a single Afghan dish but our cooking session was off to a quick start with Jeja cooking as she normally does, without a recipe: throwing ingredients in without measuring while Katie and I tried to get names and measurements. Both Katie and Jeja are quiet people so I found myself translating the few food instructions. Over time something magical happened, the conversation turned from food, to life, children, loss of loved ones, tears and back to food. After the big lunch and the emotional roller coaster I felt drained and needed a nap. I realized that food is a common interest among people around the world; it surpasses religion, politics and other controversial topics. So, we hope to share the beautiful culture of the Afghan people and their traditions through our recipes and stories in this blog.
Mawshawa is a hearty dish with mung beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, beef and a handful of dill. When I made it a couple of nights ago my daughter Sofia asked, "What are we having for dinner?" My immediate response was "Afghan chili". It was a great hit with everyone including my husband Jim who has never liked traditional American chili.
This recipe calls for canned kidney and garbanzo beans since it saves time. However, lately I have been using dried beans, soaking them over night and then boiling them. If you have the time, it’s worth the effort. They are more flavorful, plump and over all better than the canned variety. If you decide to use dried beans soak them over night, it cuts the boiling time in half.
This dish freezes well so you can make it ahead of time and take it with you for weekend getaways to the snow for a nutritious and filling dinner. Serve with garlicky yogurt and flat bread.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp. Kosher salt
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. finely ground coriander
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes (optional)
1 1/2 cups dried mung beans
1 15oz can of kidney bean
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
2 tbsp. dried dill
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. dried ground garlic
1/2 tsp, salt
Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pot, add onions and brown for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sautee for another 2 minutes. Add the meat and cook 10-12 minutes until browned and cooked through. Add the chicken broth, salt, tomato paste, coriander, pepper, and mung beans to the pot. Stir well. Bring to a boil and then turn the head to low and cook for 25-35 minutes until the mung beans are soft. In the meantime, rinse the kidney beans and garbanzo beans in a colander. Finally, add the kidney beans, mung beans and dill to the pot. Cook for 5-8 minutes.
Mix the yogurt, garlic and salt. Stir until creamy.
Serve hot in a large bowl with a dollop of yogurt mixture and a piece of nan or flat bread.