Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ariana: Cuisine from Afghanistan -- Allston, MA

I have just realized that it has been a few months since I have written a recipe post.  There is a reason for this:  all summer we have been living in a temporary apartment and half my kitchen pots, pans, and dishes are in storage.  Also?  It's been brutally hot.  Also?  I'm a little lazy.  However, in a few weeks I will be moved into my new apartment and, then, hopefully, I will have some new Fall recipes to test pilot.

But it is through the seemingly endless process of moving that I found Ariana, a semi-famous Afghani restaurant in Allston.  I had met Eric up at the realtor's office to pick up some paperwork, and we were both very hungry.  We wanted Chinese.  We got on the 86 bus and rode to Brighton Center.  No good Chinese in sight.  We then got on another bus with the intention of going to Super 88, but then we were both distracted when that bus suddenly turned on to a street filled with Indian and Afghani restaurants.  We roamed around and then picked Ariana because it had reasonable prices and neither of us had tried Afghani food before.

The restaurant was wonderfully decorated: blue glasses set against white table cloths and plates, a  cheerful yellow on the walls, and carpeting and appointments in jewel tones.  It was also surprisingly quiet.  We decided to get the most value and range for our money by eating dinner European style: many small courses, each offering a different taste to the diner.  The first course was an appetizer: bowlani, which is somewhere between a Chinese fried scallion pancake and an Indian samosa.  They came in two flavors: fried scallion and mashed potato, and they were served with thick Greek yogurt that took the edge off the spicy potato filling.

The second course was kourma challow, a mellower version of Indian korma made with green beans, carrots, and turnips.  It went wonderfully with the rice, challow, which had been boiled, seasoned, and then baked.  

My favorite dish was the sheerehk, which doesn't sound like a desert but it is: vanilla ice cream dusted with pistachios and cardamom. The entire tab came to about thirty dollars: a small price to pay for such a luxurious-feeling meal.

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