I'm feeling a little sorry for anyone who missed our Afghan Chow this weekend. It was incredible. Huge thanks to Shaista Amani and Amani Catering for the lovely, heartfelt dinner! We're so thrilled that we were your first official gig!
Cooking for large groups is nothing new for Shaista. Growing up in Afghanistan, she lived with her extended family of almost 30 aunts, uncles, and cousins. Since her grandfather was a leader in the village, they entertained a lot. Almost every other day, they would have guests over for dinner. “Everybody tries to make their food look beautiful and to make their guests happy,” says Shaista. “Guests are considered as friends of God, so everyone tries to make their guests very happy.”
Shaista Amani resettled in Atlanta with her family in February of 2017 from Afghanistan. When she arrived, members of the Oakhurst Baptist Church welcomed her and provided support for her and her family. Not knowing how else to repay their kindness, Shaista took to the kitchen! Every Friday night, she invited her new friends over for a home-cooked Afghani dinner.
With the encouragement of her new friends, Shaista founded Amani Catering Company, which gives other Afghani women living in the area an opportunity to make a living. Not only is Amani her husband’s surname, it also means “hope.” She thinks her business will bring hope to other Afghani women who are struggling to secure jobs due to language barriers.
Shaista lives with her husband and two kids in Decatur. And they will be welcoming a new member to their family any day now!
One of the most popular dishes in Afghanistan, these dumplings are a popular street food that are also served on special occasions. It’s said that Turkic and Mongol horsemen of Central Asia carried frozen mantu during the cold winters while traveling long distances and then boiled them over campfires for supper. The homemade dumpling dough is stuffed with beef and steamed. Topped with chaka (drained yogurt, minced garlic, lemon, and salt) and a tomato sauce.
Gluten-free: Kofta Vegetarian/Vegan: Vegetable Somosa
Borani Banjan is a simple Afghan dish of sautéed eggplant with tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and chilis. Garnished with Afghani spices. It’s topped with a garlicky yogurt sauce. This vegetarian dish can be served as a side or an entree.
Gluten Free and Vegetarian. Vegan: Borani Banjan without yogurt
This salad gets it’s name from the Indian spice, chat masala. This chopped salad includes onions, boiled potatoes, tomatoes, cilantro, cucumbers and chickpeas tossed with a yogurt, lemon dressing.
Gluten Free and Vegetarian. Vegan: Salad with a vegan dressing
The national dish of Afghanistan, kabuli palaw translates to “excellent rice.” In fact, this dish is so important that brides-to-be must prove to their in-laws that they can cook it well. Afghan Sela rice cooked in a broth sauce and topped with fried sliced carrots, raisins, and chopped nuts. The meat, in this case, beef, us typically covered by the rice mixture.
Gluten Free. Vegetarian/Vegan Option: Afghan Sela rice cooked with carrots, peas, potatoes, bell pepper, and chickpeas. Garnished with Afghani spices.
We promise this rice pudding is unlike any you’ve ever had! The grains of rice are soaked overnight and ground up before being mixed with milk, butter, almonds, sugar, and cream. The result is a thick and creamy rice pudding. Topped with pistachios.
Gluten-Free. Vegetarian. Vegan: Fruit Jelly