Behavior and Etiquette – Food and Dining: Traditional Cuisine

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

PilauAfghan cuisine is influenced by South and Central Asian, Chinese and Iranian cooking.  The traditional meal is a rice and meat dish, known as pilau, in which the rice has been cooked with other ingredients, taking on the color and flavor of those ingredients. The rice is usually cooked with meat juices, but sometimes vegetables are substituted.  The most famous Afghan pilau is likely Qabuli pilau. There are many variations of this dish, but typically pieces of lamb are covered with a pilau that includes strips of carrots and currants. Another popular Afghan dish is aushak, scallion-filled dumplings with meat sauce and yogurt, sprinkled with mint.

KabobsKabobs are the Afghan equivalent to fast food.  Kabobs are made of skewered meat (lamb, mutton, or beef) and vegetables.  You will most likely find a kabob shop in any Afghan city or town.  A kabob shop will feature several kinds of kabobs, along with bread and possibly vegetables or salad. Muslim dietary rules prevent most Afghans from eating pork.  A vegetable soup with bread in it known as shoorwa [SHORE-wah] is also quite common. Afghan bread comes in slabs, or in round flat loaves (not to be confused with Middle Eastern pita bread) that have been baked inside large clay ovens called tandoors.Tea Time

Because of cattle and sheep herding, dairy products are traditionally an important part of the diet.  Yogurt and dairy products are common staples.  Snacks may include sugarcane, pudding, nuts, seeds, apples, grapes, apricots or oranges. Curd is also thoroughly drained and then dried in small hard balls for future use in cooking. Boiled curd is often eaten for breakfast. Fresh vegetables and fruit, when available, are also an important part of the diet. Tomatoes, spinach, potatoes, peas and carrots, cucumbers and eggplant are common vegetables.

In rural Afghanistan, regular midday meals are not eaten, but people carry around nuts and dried fruit for energy throughout the day. Urban diets are typically more varied than rural diets, but food and money shortages are severe at times in all areas.

Back Home Next