So my mama’s BIRTHDAY was April 8th.
The evening was slightly bizarre given the fact that she’d been working cray-cray hours up to her birthday, because despite various douchey Congress members talking about lazy-ass federal workers, she in fact worked like a horse preparing for the possible furlough that would’ve begun the next day… that then never happened… so then she had to work on a Saturday too.
But we enjoyed the slightly bizarre atmosphere, inspired by the carefree attitude of government shutdown pickup lines on Twitter.
We dined at Panjshir, a restaurant for which my mother had a Groupon, which I guiltily let her use on her own birthday (I paid the rest, obvi).
Panjshir serves AFGHAN food! The inside, though appearing hilariously tacky on their website, is in fact beautiful and really nice in the evening. It’d be a good date place!
I always feel awkward taking pictures of strangers at restaurants… so here’s the bar! I thought the muskets over the door were neat.
We kept our drinks virgin for the evening. Apparently in Afghanistan they drink CARDAMOM TEA! Love me some cardamom! Love me some tea on a somewhat gloomy night!
The mug was so beautiful! Though small, they refilled mine like six times :D
We started with the Aushak, scallion-filled dumplings with tomato sauce and fresh yogurt.
Green onion, go figure! That typically-relegated-to-garnish vegetable makes it big. The tomato sauce was wipe-it-off-the-plate-with-your-spoon awesome, made particularly succulent with mint, mm.
Salad. Standard. Yummy creamyish dressing. I have to say, there is something (and I think it is because I have it so rarely), something slightly magical about iceburg lettuce to me.
We split the veggie combo: you get your choice of three of their vegetarian dishes, plus rice.
Kadu Chalow: sauteed pumpkin topped with seasoned yogurt and tomato sauce
Seib Chalow: apples baked with tomato sauce, seeded Afghan prunes, walnuts, split peas, and spices
Shalgam Chalow: rond slices of fresh turnips cooked with tomato sauce, butter, onion, fresh ginger, brown sugar, and Kashmiri masala.
I don’t know if any of you have been lucky enough to taste Afghan food but dannnnnnnng. That pumpkin dish is probably the most famous for those in the know (agree? disagree?) and this one was good, if not the best I ever had (that honor goes to The Helmand, in Cambridge, MA). Sweet with the tomato/yogurt tang atop.
Those turnips though?! Crazy awesome! Just enhanced everything elemental in a parsnip: the sweetness, the earthiness, the depth of flavor. Afghan food has an amazing balance of sweet/savory/sour.
Also, the apples with the split peas. Who’d think, right?! But the still slightly al dente legumes added something sort of irresistable.
Plus, just for good measure, one more veggie dish:
Zardack Chalow: Round slices of fresh carrots cooked with seeded Afghan prunes, walnuts, chickpeas, and tomato sauce
Aaaaaaaaaaagh God. I went, “You’d eat this with lamb, right?!” If there are any lamb-lovin’ Greek girls out there, you know everything good about lamb? This had it, but somehow in a vegetable stew. This probably makes sense to no one. That is fine.
Basically, how can you go wrong with slow-roasted carrots, succulent sweet-savory sauce, and walnuts?!
All the leftover juiciness got soaked up with their bread, which comes with hot sauce :D
Aaaaaand the birthday girl got almond pudding, dusted with pistachios and cardamom. Beauteous!
I attempted to get a picture of her smiling, but we are chronic blinkers in my family, oi.