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Afghan Culture Unveiled
Humaira shares roots by writing about the rich Afghan culture and declicious foods of her homeland.
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by Humaira As a fifth grader in Kabul I had an allowance of one Afghani per day to buy a snack. Contrary to popular misconception, the Afghani doesn’t refer to a person, but to Afghanistan’s currency, and was worth about 10 cents at the time. All my friends would use their allowance to buy special treats from the school canteen, but I would stop at the vegetable store on the way to school to purchase the largest cucumber I could afford. With school in session from March through November, the crunchy cucumbers with the small seeds had a cooling effect... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
By Humaira As a little girl in Kabul, I loved playing football (soccer), biking, and jumping off our home's ten foot high wall into a pile of snow. The two countries where I spent most of my childhood, India and Afghanistan, boys had freedoms that girls could only dream about. Perhaps that is why I decided to take on a boyish persona. Without any labels or criticism, my Afghan parents accepted my eccentracities and accomodated my request for short hair and boyish clothes. Baba and I, 1977 Kabul, Afghanistan Now, my eldest daugther has the same tendencies. Perhaps the tomboy... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
Saveur Magazine Article By Monica Bhide When I was a child in Delhi, India, cardamom was as familiar as the air I breathed. Its sweet, woodsy perfume regularly filled the house when my parents were cooking. But it took me a while to appreciate the spice's flavor. "Too strong for me," I would say as I picked the pale green cardamom pods out of any rice dish or curry that was placed before me. It wasn't until I got a bit older and started drinking masala chai, India's ubiquitous brew of tea, milk, and spice, that I began to come... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
Just published, "Mataluna: 151 Afghan Pashto Proverbs" with a foreword by yours truely. In development for over a year, this is the Pashto companion to "Zarbul Masalha, 151 Afghan Dari Proverbs". The first book captures Dari proverbs and thanks to Captain Edward Zellem's social media skills, the book has reached thousands of people around the world. My copy is marked up on all pages with sticky notes and stars. I rely on it to weave color into my Afghanistan related writing. Pashto, a language spoken by over 40% of Afghans, has its own historic tradition of proverbs. Mataluna, the word... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
By Humaira Thank you David Colin Carr, for inviting me to participate in “My Writing Process Blog Tour.” You've pulled me out of the writer's abyss and plunged me into the transformative world of @MondayBlogs. Below are the answers to the questions I've been asked to answer in this post. 1) What am I working on? I am always working on my blog, Afghan Culture Unveiled. Telling stories of Afghanistan, testing recipes and reading Afghanistan related books to review. My other project is a novel I’ve been working on for the past year with the working title, “Two Women and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
By Humaira Since I've got a copy of the Turmeric, The Wonder Spice e-cookbook and learned about the health benefits of Turmeric - I've managed to add the spice to evey dish I've made. This is the last of three recipes authors - Helen Saberi and Colleen Taylor Sen have kindly shared with us from their book. You may purchase Turmeric - The Wonder Spice on Amazon. Bobotie Bobotie is a South African curry-type baked dish that contains finely minced meat and a blend of sweet and sour ingredients. It is topped with an egg-and-milk sauce. It has been popular... Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
Burani Katchalu in a whole wheat pita pocket By Humaira Today I have fabulous vegetarian Afghan recipe from Turmeric, The Wonder Spice an e-cookbook. I served this dish in pita pockets, lathered with the creamy yogurt sauce from the recipes and a freshly tossed salad. Fresh veggies and garbanzo beans Here is how authors – Helen Saberi and Colleen Taylor Sin recommend you make this dish. Afghan Potatoes with Spicy Yogurt Sauce Burani Katchalu In Afghanistan, this dish is called Burani Katchalu. Burani is the name given to a vast range of dishes across the Islamic heartland, from Spain to... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
Today, before the mother's day brunch, before opening gifts, before embracing our daugthers - let's take a moment of silence for the kidnapped Nigerian girls and their mothers. #bringbackourgirls Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
One of Afghanistan's most beautiful province - Badakshan By Humaira I make a point of not hitting up my readers for donations but this is a cause worth paying attention to. Hundreds of people in the village of Abi Barik in Afghanistan's Badakhshan province were buried when the side of a mountain collapsed following days of heavy rain. At least 2,000 people have been displaced in one of the worst natural disasters to hit Afghanistan. Aid is pouring in slowly and the residents are in great need of our support. I am calling on all Afghans in the diaspora to... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
By Humaira I am reposting a blog article I wrote for the fabulous Marsha Toy Engstrom's very popular blog - The Book Club Cheerleader. Embeded in the post is a call to vote for a title to my novel. Yes, I've been working on a book for the past year. Would you please cast your vote in the comments section of this post for one of the four titles or perhaps suggest your own? Thank you in advance. Book Club Cheeerleader Blog Repost This is one of the things I love about literary organizations—you always meet fascinating people who are... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
By Humaira Aside from Jeja, my mom, Helen Saberi would be the next person I would go to for Afghan cooking advice. Helen is the author of Afghan Food and Cookery, the one and only published Afghan cookbook. When Helen told me about her newest project, an e-cookbook co-written by Colleen Taylor Sen, about Turmeric, I readily agreed to contribute a couple of my own recipes. Helen who lives in England and Colleen in Chicago - first met in the mid 1990s at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, and have since met nearly every year at the same... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
The Examiner Article - Sunday April 27, 2014 By Alex Hochman Urban-dweller confession time: I have a bit of a Fremont problem. Wife out of town with the kids? I'll just scoot across the Dumbarton Bridge to Fremont. Need to buy some new clothes? Let's head to the Great Mall near, um, Fremont. Saturday afternoon with no plans? Fremont. The real reason for my fascination lies not in the town's beauty or culture (sorry, Fremont.) It's the kabobs. The Afghan kabobs, to be exact. Closet-sized De Afghanan Kabob House has been one of my secret hideouts ever since my longtime... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
By Humaira The hardest part of being an immigrant is adapting to one’s newly adopted home. My family struggled with decoding the basics of living in the United States. I wish my parents had access to the Immigrant Success Planning: A Family Resource Guide, by my friend, Afghan American author, Atta Arghandiwal. This book has detailed “how to” guide for immigrants inthe U.S. and Canada ranging from basic to complex issues: how to shop, how to find a rental, how to manage finances, how to find a job, how to become a citizen and more. My family’s life changed dramatically... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
by Humaira I say the verdict is still out. Living in San Francisco, like many Afghans in the diaspora, I play the role of cheerleader rather than a player. As all cheerleaders do, they watch the game and cheer at the right time but I feel like something has been missing in this game and the reporting of it. In talking to my friend Mark Mullen over coffee, the light bulb finally went on. Just to qualify things, Mark is one of the foremost experts on elections in developing countries. Mark is the chair of Transparency International in the country... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
By Humaira Haleem is a delicacy mostly enjoyed in the cold winter months of Afghanistan. It’s considered a warming dish, usually made with protein, oats and wheat. In Afghanistan, due to the high price of chicken, Haleem is made with beef. Traditionally it’s served in a bowl with brown sugar and topped with a generous dollop of hot cooking oil. Haleem lovers in the Afghan diaspora, mostly use chicken and they substitute butter for oil. I didn’t grow up eating Haleem, since Jeja, my mom, can't stand the idea of protein in her oatmeal. Truthfully, I only learned about the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
At an AFN fundraiser (Sofia 11, Eva - board member, me, Yudi 11 - all volunteers) The many faces of the diaspora By Fariba Nawa With tens of thousands of educated Afghans fleeing the country, an imminent brain drain threatens the reconstruction of Afghanistan after 2014. It’s a Saturday afternoon in San Francisco’s Haight District, and Afghan Friends Network’s (AFN) board members have gathered to do an important job. An Afghan spread of roat, nuts and raisins is set before them. The refreshing aroma of cardamom-flavoured green tea travels from the kitchen of the four-story Victorian house to the dining... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
Photo: The Telegraph, U.K. A conversation with a newly immigrated Afghan – Hassan Etemadi This is my first Nowroz (Afghan New Year) celebration outside Afghanistan, without my larger family and the members of my village. Perhaps my wife and I will have to make our own traditions in the United States but I would like to share what we did in Afghanistan. In my village, in the province of Ghazni, we celebrated the New Yar for three days. Women wore new clothes, they put on henna on their hands, and they cooked special dishes to welcome the New Year. Children... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
Samanak wheat grass A conversation with Afghan American author, Community Activist, and Father - Atta Arghandiwal To honor the Afghan New Year, and more importantly, to encourage the younger generation to respect and remember our traditions, our family holds a special gathering at Nowroz. The Arghandiwal family, in Northern California, throws a huge party with special food and Nowroz drink Haft mewa, while cooking Samanak*. Our entire family, boys, girls, old and young participate in the process of preparing Samank from growing the wheat to following the traditional cooking process while listening to music, dancing and telling stories. We gather... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
Haft seen, meaning "Seven S's", items have symbolic meaning for a good year A conversation with Afghan American Author, Ted speaker, Mom - Fariba Nawa Nowroz is one of my favorite holidays. Every year we put out a Sofrah e Haft Seen. Each of the items on the sofrah represent something about the New Year. They all begin with the Persian letter "seen," which is phonetic with s. For example, grass symbolizes rebirth and apple symbolizes health. Haft Seen is not common in Kabul but in Herat, where I come from, many families lay it out. My daughters help put... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
Happy St. Patrick's Day! Share your comments, thoughts and experiences below! By Katie 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.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
Rosewater What is it? A by product of making rose oil for perfumes, rose water has been used for centuries in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, where it flavors drinks like hot milk or tea, desserts like Turkish delight, baklava, and rice pudding, and even adds a subtle complexity to savory foods. It lends its delicate, floral flavor. Because it is very potent, add it judiciously, by the eighth of a teaspoon, so that it doesn’t overpower other flavors. How to choose: You can find rose water at Middle Eastern or health-food stores. Since it’s also used for cosmetic... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
Your comments are welcome! By Humaira I no longer have to send friends to Fremont for an authentic chapli kebab and bolani meal. De Afghanan Kebob House, which has been in Fremont's Little Kabul district for over 20 years, has opened it's doors in San Francisco's Tenderloin district. The restaurant is run by two nephews of the original kebab master, Omar Aziz. They have created an extensive menu of mouth watering dishes and they are committed to staying in San Francisco's lucrative restaurant market where there is little competition for well priced, delicious, Afghan street food. The restaurant is small... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
Winner of prestigious CBC Bookie Award Your comments are welcome! By Humaira Shortly after my daugther Aria was born, fourteen years ago, I started a book club to create an incentive to read someting beside mind numbing picture books. The women I recruited were moms I met at a mommy-baby gathering. Every month we bundled up our bundles of joy, and met at someone's home to discuss the book. Once the babies started crawling, and walking, we left them with Dad and met at restaurants for a coveted night of adult conversation and relaxed dining. Unfotunately five years ago the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
By Humaira I don’t have a sweet tooth. My go to snacks are dates, mulberries, almonds and walnuts. However, there are a few things I can’t resist; pistachio ice cream, our Afghan butter cookies and Sheer payra, Afghanistan’s fudge. Recently a friend asked about Sheer payra, so I cast a wide net for possible recipes. My friend Helen Saberi kindly referred me to her recipe in Afghan Food & Cookery*. My sister Nabila shared her wisdom and lessons learned from previous attempts to make this mouth watering delight. It turns out making Sheer payra requires a great deal of precision... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled
Afghan Lamb in Cherry Sauce with rice and cauliflower Your comments are welcome! By Humaira It's not every day when lamb meets cherries in a pot. In the case of today's recipe, Qorma e Aloo Baloo, the end result is a symphony of sweet and sour delight for your taste buds. After 33 years of living in the United States, I still remember cherry season in Afghansitan, when my mom’s cousin would deliver boxes of cherries to our home. Jeja, my mom, would get busy making jams and cherry juice before the lot went bad. My younger brother and I... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2014 at Afghan Culture Unveiled