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While Humaira's roots are firmly planted in Afghanistan, mine are in Ireland. The Irish landscape is lush and verdant, the country is surrounded by water, the people are fair skinned and friendly, and the pub is the centerpiece of Irish social life.
Afghanistan is an arid, landlocked country where community centers around the homefront and the very notion of a public watering hole is virtually non-existent. The two countries mutual devotion to brewing and serving endless cups of tea was the one commonality I could think of.
While in Ireland, little grabbed my interest on the culinary front, this hearty quick bread became a minor obsession. Toasted with plenty of Irish butter and blackberry jam, it was the perfect accompaniment to all that hot tea.
While it's hardly Afghan food, it pairs just right with some of Afghanistan's hearty, flavorful soups and stews.
Brown Soda Bread
Makes 1 loaf
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
6 tbsp. ground flax meal (or wheat bran)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sift the first 6 ingredients into a big bowl. Add the butter to the bowl, pinching it between your fingers to incorporate it into the flour mixture until it is evenly distributed and is like a coarse meal. Pour in the buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon until just barely combined. Do not overmix it. Put the dough in buttered loaf pan and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (about 40 minutes).
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