Nothing gives me the warm fuzzies like finding a book-shaped box in my mail, and when the box contains the much-anticipated ‘Parwana’ cookbook I’m a very happy camper indeed.
Since they opened the doors of their Afghani restaurant, Parwana, in 2009, the Ayubi family have become a valued and significant member of Adelaide’s culinary scene. And with the release of the ‘Parwana’ cookbook by Durkhanai Ayubi and Farida Ayubi (Murdoch Books $45 RRP), we can now learn the rich back story to a cuisine which is infused with Afghanistan’s traditions of generosity and hospitality, and develop a much more comprehensive picture of the land they left behind.
Zelmai and Farida Ayubi fled Afghanistan with their family at the height of the Cold War, in 1985, bringing with them a love for their traditional food and the rituals that accompany it, and a deep awareness of the troubled history of their home land and the situations that drove them to leave.
Afghani cuisine has been influenced over the centuries by the Greek, Indian, Turk, Mongol and Persian empires who came and went across their land, and also by their location in the heart of the great Silk Road. These influences are reflected in the Afghani spice palate, in their traditions, and in the deliciously tempting and accessible recipes in the Parwana cookbook – dishes such as Kabuli palaw (a rice pilau, and Afghanistans national dish), sambosas (stuffed, fried pastries), various meat kebabs, and the milky, rosewater-flavoured Falooda – a gloriously sweet and cooling dessert that is found across the subcontinent.
I sat down one weekend and read the Parwana cookbook from cover to cover – and then I cried. Written by Durkhanai Ayubi, with recipes from her mother Farida, the book gives a potted history of Afghanistan, written from an acutely personal angle, as the Ayubi family became entangled in the political turmoil of more recent times. It is an extraordinary cookbook and an intensely inspiring one – this is food that tells a story and that also made me very hungry.
Using a couple of Farida’s recipes, last night we sat down to a splendid meal of Kebabeh degee morgh (chicken kebab) and some soft, fluffy naan – and thanked the stars for sending this remarkable family safely our way.
Kebabeh Degee Morgh (Chicken Kebab)
- 250 mls sunflower oil
- 1 kg chicken thighs and drumsticks, bone in, skin removed
- 2 ripe tomatoes, pureed in a blender
- 1 tsp fresh ground coriander
- 1 tsp fresh ground cumin
- 1 tsp fresh ground fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp nigella seeds
- 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 tbsp grated fresh garlic
- 2 fresh long red chillies, thinly sliced
- 130 gms plain yoghurt
- naan flatbread
- green chilli, lime cheeks, to serve
- Heat the oil in a large wok over high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally until golden brown.
- Add the tomato, spices, ginger, garlic, chilli and yoghurt. Mix to coat chicken and combine.
- Cook for 15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
- Serve with the chicken and sauce over the naan, garnish with green chilli and lime cheeks.
You can buy the Parwana cookbook from good bookstores, or online at Booktopia. (If purchased via the link on this page, I will receive a small percentage of the cost.)
Lambs’ Ears received a review copy of this cookbook.