In search of a more fragrant aushak
Made these Afghan dumplings for the first time today, and really loved them.
I started with a very simple recipe this time, wanting to get the technique down first before spicing things up. The end product was exactly what I thought it would be: simple flavors, interesting combination of textures, and a fun change from what I usually cook.
Now I'm ready for more! What are some herbs and spices people add to an Afghan aushak? From my one restaurant experience, I remember the meat sauce being more complex--greener, if you will (oregano? parsley? a tiny bit of caraway?).
My simple recipe included the following:
1/2 pound ground beef
1 finely diced onion
3 cloves of finely diced garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground mace or nutmeg
1 teaspoon finely diced fresh ginger
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup of water (you might not need it all)
1 cup Mediterranean style yogurt
1 teaspoon chopped garlic (2-3 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package wonton wrappers (Dynasty or Hong Kong brands are widely available)
2 bunches of green onions, white parts removed and chopped finely
handful cilantro (optional)
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten and mixed with a teaspoon of water
Thanks for asking!
I thinned some of the leftover yogurt with lemon juice and added garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, and pepper. It tasted sort of like sour cream and onion dip. Then I tossed the salad with it. Hardly revelatory, but fine. Neither of us loved it, but we finished the greens so it was perfectly serviceable.
The star of the meal was the aushak. It's so addictive we were sharing a plate of seconds by 9 p.m. Part of its appeal, I think, is that it tastes like familiar comfort food but looks new and exciting.
Your recipe looks brilliant - I have to try this! The recipe I have from Afghan friends is actually far less seasoned and calls for topping the aushak with mint - not even fresh mint, dried mint (pudina) fried briefly with some garlic. So I am intrigued by the nutmeg/mace in the meat sauce playing against the chili flakes in the filling.
One classic Afghan herb combination that might work in this sauce is coriander leaves, parsley, spring onions and chives. You may be right about the oregano - I know Afghans use za'atar in some recipes, and it is related although it tastes more thyme-like to me.
Do any of these herbs seem like what you tasted? A list of Afghan herbs in no particular order: flatleaf parsley, coriander leaves, dill, garlic chives, fresh fenugreek leaves, green garlic (tareh in Farsi), za'atar (the herb, not the spice mixture of the same name), basil, tarragon, our mint, a different sort of mint sold in Indian shops in an MDH box as pudina, watercress, leeks, shallots (moosir in Farsi).
Thanks (this is the OP under a new handle). That list is extremely helpful. I don't think the version I tasted had mint, but I'm going to slowly try all the herbs you mentioned. The restaurant I went to definitely used a blend of dried herbs, so it was hard to visually identify anything. I think yo'ure right about the thyme though!