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Lamb and turnip stew (Shalgham Challaw) with Mung bean rice (Maash Palaw)

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

I was super excited to finally receive this cookbook. The book is packed with recipes and beautiful Photographs. Most recipes are relatively straightforward with standard ingredients, but the flavours are spectacular and the dishes are perfect. This cuisine is new to me, but it bears quite a lot of similarities to the early Mughal and North Indian cuisine, though milder In spices. Afghan cuisine has a distinct style and flavour profile. The cuisine is heavy on rice, and rice dishes hold a special place in the culture. Geographically, Afghanistan has sat as a major trading point along the silk route and has been central in the path of all invaders, including Alexander, Greeks, Romans, Turks, Mongols and the Mughals. This has created a focal point for intermingled cultures, and of course cuisine. This beautiful book highlights this history through the beautiful dishes and stories.

I had to try two recipes that I combined into a meal here. The stew was spectacular, the turnips were flavorful and added a wonderful nuance to the meat that was very lightly spiced. The rice with mung beans paired with it beautifully. I could have a whole bowl of rice just by itself! I love new cookbooks, ok I am a bit obsessed, and new cuisines and learning about cultures through food and spices. This cookbook does just that. It is filled with wonderful recipes, more coming soon on this blog, and beautiful pictures. My only minor quibble is the print, I have bad eyes, and the weird grey print on a non-white page makes the recipes really hard to read, but again, that could just be me with poor eyesight.

For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.

For the Shalgham challaw:

2 tablespoons oil

3 large onions, fine;y sliced

1 tablespoons ginger paste

2 1/2 lb lamb, shoulder cut with bone

2 lb turnips, peeled and cubes into small bite-sized pieces

1 tablespoon chilli powder, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Salt to taste

For the Maash palaw:

1 cup whole green moong beans, soaked overnight in water

1 bay leaf

2 cups basmati rice

2 tablespoons oil

2 onions, finely sliced

1 cup raisins

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 cup water

Salt to taste

To make the Shalgham challaw:

In a pot or Instapot, or pressure cooker add the oil and heat on medium heat. Add the onions and sauté till golden. Add the meat and fry for an additional 5-10 minutes till the meat is lightly browned and the flavours are sealed in. Braise for 1-1 1/2 hours, or cook in an Instapot on the meat setting or 20 minutes in a pressure cooker till the meat is fork tender.

Open the pressure cooker/Instapot carefully. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 8-10 minutes till the turnips are cooked through but not mushy. Set aside.

To make the Maash palaw:

Drain the beans from the water, add 3 cups water and bring to a gentle simmer. Add a teaspoon of salt and the bay leaf and cook till the beans are just cooked through and have a tender bite, about 12-15 minutes. Drain the beans and set aside.

Heat the oil and add the onions and sauté on medium heat till the onions have a light golden colour. Add the raisins, salt, and ground cumin and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the rice and toss well. Cook till the rice has completed cooking and the water has evaporated. I usually cheat and do this in a rice cooker.

Remove and toss well with the cooked beans. Set aside till ready to serve.

To serve:

You can serve this dish in a number of ways. To keep things simple, serve in two separate bowls. For a more dramatic presentation, I add the curry to the centre of a large deep platter and surround it with a ring of rice. It makes for a beautiful presentation.

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