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Afghan chickpea curry (Nakhot)

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

Legumes are an integral part of Afghan cuisine as they are cultivated all over the country and can be stored for the harsh winters. This is a very traditional dish that is influenced by its neighbour India.

The chickpeas are simmered in a tomato-based sauce that is twice cooked to extract the flavours. The curry powder from neighbouring India adds a touch of spice to the otherwise bland dish. The sauce is delicate and has well-balanced flavours. This is a perfect dish as a side that is nutritious and healthy.

Durkhanai Ayubi tells her story of fleeing war-torn Afghanistan through recipes and stories in this cookbook. She runs two restaurants in Adelaide, is also a freelance writer and is a Fellow of the Atlantic Institute. Through this book, she describes how new ideologies, such as Soviet-inspired communism and Islamic extremism, informed movements that challenged Afghan culture and traditions and led to the large-scale displacement of Afghans, including many members of her own family. This cookbook is filled with wonderful recipes that are delicious and they do stave my craving for great Afghan cuisine.

For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.


1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in 5 cups water overnight

1 small bay leaf

1 clove garlic, sliced

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups water

2 tablespoons oil

2 bay leaves

1 black cardamom pod

3 green cardamom pods

3 cloves

1 large onion, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons Madras curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Salt, to taste

3-4 tomatoes, purèed till smooth

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar

Cilantro or parsley, minced, for garnish

Rinse out the soaked beans and add to a pot with the bay leaf, garlic, salt and water. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum that rises to the top. Simmer gently for 20-30 minutes till the beans are cooked through but still retain their bite. Seta side to cool keeping the cooking liquids.

While the beans are cooking, heat the oil in a deep pot, one large enough for the whole dish. Add the bay leaf, black cardamom, green cardamom, and cloves and sautè for 30 seconds till the bay leaf turns a deeper shade. Add the onions, and garlic, and fry until the onions are lightly golden for about 5-7 minutes.

Add the curry powder, cumin, coriander, sugar and salt, and stir the mix quickly. Add the tomatoes and cook on medium-low heat till all the liquids evaporate and the tomato paste glistens with oil.

Add 1/4 cup of the bean cooking liquid and mix in well. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes till all the liquids are evaporated again and the oil begins to separate from the sauce.

Add the chickpeas and 1/2 cup of the cooking liquids. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

Serve hot garnished with cilantro/parsley with naan bread or rice.

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