A few days back we were talking about our neighbour Lanka's cuisine. Now lets jump to another country with close ties with ours Afghanisthan. As a bookworm I sometime reread the same book and most times end up getting something new from it. The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini is one such that wisens me up each time I read it. I know the story, I know what is going to happen at what time but still I love revisiting the book and complete it or rather live the book. This time around apart from the emotions it invoked in me, the mentions of cooking and bread and especially the 'frying of spinach bolani' set the ball rolling for me.
Bolani / Boulani or Borekai in Pashto is a non leavened Afghani flatbread baked or fried with a vegetable filling. Its similar to Indian stuffed parathas yet has its own identity.I have adapted the recipe from MyDiverseKitchen where Aparna has written a wonderful stepwise post on making Potato Bolani. I had spinach in hand and went for a spinach filling.
All Purpose Flour: 3.5 cup
Olive Oil: 1 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Water: 1.5 cups +/ - as needed
Onion: 1 medium finely chopped
Spinach : 1 bunch chopped
Green Chilli: 1 small as per taste
Spices/Seasonings & Salt: as per taste
Mix together the flour,salt and oil and knead into a dough adding enough water to form a smooth and elastic dough. This can be done in a food processor bowl or by hand as you wish.
Turn the dough into a round and let it rest in an oiled bowl for an hour or so covered with a wrap.
Meanwhile prepare the filling. Heat oil in a deep pan and add in the onion. Saute till transparent and then add the chilli and spinach along with any other spices/seasonings ypu prefer. Saute for a few minutes till the flavours are mixed and spinach is just cooked and whole filling is dry. You can also blanch and use spinach instead of chopping and sauteeing.
Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, transfer it to a floured/dusted surface and roll it out into a circle as thin as possible to you. Divide the filling into 8 equal portions as well. Place one filling portion into the half of the rolled out bread in a semi circle fashion. Cover with other half to get a crescent shaped stuffed flatbread. Press the edges with your fingers to seal well. You can also use the tines of a fork to press the edges to make them look pretty.
Repeat the same process with rest of the dough portions as well. In a shallow frying pan heat about 2 tbsp of oil and shallow fry one bolani at a time. The oil should around the bolani should be very hot and sizzle and cook both sides until golden brown pressing down occasionally with a spatula so that it flattens some more.
Drain on paper towels and repeat the process for other bolanis adding more oil if needed.Serve with Minty Chakkah.
Minty Chakkah or Minty Yogurt Sauce
It is actually thick creamy yogurt seasoned with garlic and mint. Its easy to make and is usually served as a side dip to meat or veg dishes and bolani ofcourse.
Thick creamy Yogurt / Greek yogurt: 1 cup
Garlic: 1 small clove
Fresh Mint: 2 -3 tbsp chopped
Salt: as per taste
Gently mix in the yogurt and garlic. Do not beat else it will be all liquidy. Chill in the fridge till serving time.
Few minutes before serving take out, mix in the salt and half of the mint. Garnish with the other half and serve with a bolani.
Bolani dough is vegan and stuffing is vegan as well.It can be made with stuffing of pumpkin, leeks, lentils, greens ,potatoes or combination. Thanks to the Afghanistan serving as a bridge between Europe and India, its cuisine is highly influenced by India, Persia etc and has choicest vegetarian dishes as well and bolani can be called Afghan cousin of Indian parathas.