Aushak (Afghan leek dumpling) success!
Inspired by a post from Pei awhile back http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/303861 I made aushak last night with great success. These are lovely leek dumplings with two sauces: a fragrant, interestingly spiced meat sauce and a potent, garlicky yogurt sauce. I also consulted another blog for the recipes http://cookingwithamy.blogspot.com/20... and sort of combined them. In the meat sauce I used coriander, freshly-ground nutmeg and just a hint of cinnamon for the seasoning.
I really recommend these -- they were delicious and easier than I thought to pull off. The friends I used as guinea pigs were very happy to have volunteered. The dumpling making would also be a fun project for kids.
Edited to take out parens to make links work. Sorry about that!
Try this and scroll down to find aushak (or press ctrl+f to do a search): http://www.chezpei.com/2006_06_01_arc...
Blogger is acting really weird, so here's the recipe I posted. If parts of it sound funny, they're probably referring to the photos in the original post.
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
Sautee onions in olive oil until soft. Add beef, garlic, coriander, mace, and ginger and sautee until cooked. Add 1/2 a cup of water and simmer slowly until the water is reduced by half. Stir in the tomato sauce, add salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for five more minutes. Add water if the mix starts to look dry. It should be thicker than spaghetti saucebut still have some moisture to it. Cover and set aside in refrigerator. The meat will absorb the flavors while resting
1 cup Mediterranean style yogurt
1 teaspoon chopped garlic (2-3 cloves)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine ingredients, cover, and set aside in refrigerator. You want to use a very thick yogurt for this. I used Trader Joe's Mediterranean Cheese Style Yogurt with the yellow cap. It's thicker than sour cream and has a great mild, slightly cheesy flavor. It's $2 a pint, and you can mix leftovers with a little milk and honey for breakfast. A Greek style yogurt would work well too, or take your favorite plain yogurt and drain it in a cheesecloth to thicken it.
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
Using the filling very sparingly, I was able to use up almost an entire package of wonton wrappers. If you want to use up the whole bag and make more substantial aushak, I would multiply this recipe by 1.5. Combine all the ingredients except the wrappers and the egg. Let rest for ten minutes, then gently squeeze out the liquid. Put a teaspoon of filling on a wrapper, dab the edges of the wrapper with a thin layer of egg, fold the wrapper onto itself to form a triangle, and press firmly to seal.
The best way to ensure a tight seal is to press down one side of the triangle and then gently roll your palm over the aushak starting with the sealed side and over to the unsealed side. As you roll your palm over the aushak, gently squeeze out the air from around the filling, being careful not to squeeze more liquid out of the filling. Seal the other side of the triangle. Set on a lightly floured baking sheet, and repeat until you run out of filling. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap until ready to cook. You can also freeze the aushak on the tray, then put them all in a zip loc bag in the freezer for a few months.
Boil two quarts of water, slightly salted (a teaspoon or two should do it). Turn the water down to a gently rolling boil, and cook the aushak until transluscent. If you're boiling fresh aushak made with thin wonton skins, it should take only two or three minutes. Frozen aushak will take up to five minutes. To serve, heat the meat sauce but not the yogurt sauce. Drain the cooked aushak and arrange them on a warm plate. Dab all over with both sauces (or make stripes) and serve immediately.
I am Afghan and love that you appreciate aushak as much as we Afghans do. I noticed that your recipe had some discrepancies from how it is typically made and some ingredients are missing (possibly because they may be difficult to find in your area or you have a different version of the recipe).
The main ingredient that goes inside the dumpling are leeks. These are not what you find at the end of the green onions found in American grocery stores. Typically, one would use the leeks that sold in bunches at Persian, Afghan, East Asian, or Middle Eastern stores. If there isn't one in your area, you may use the method above, however it will not give you the true texture and flavor of how the aushak should be. A few months ago, I went to a Chinese chain grocer called Ranch 99. They happened to carry the packaged and frozen (ready to boil) dumplings that had the leeks already inside them.
The yogurt sauce should also have about 1 tsp (or more) of crushed, dried mint leaves.
I never heard of anyone in my family putting cinnamon in their meat, however, it could be from a different recipe. We typically season ground meat with black pepper, cardamom, cumin, garlic powder, and salt ( you may substitute with boullion or seasoned salt).
In my family we make a dish we call afghan lasagne which is basically the meat sauce and the yogurt sauce layered on top of fresh lasagne noodles. My mother taught me this one and she said she made it up because making the leek dumplings was too time-consuming. (she makes a similar version of stuffed cabbage--layered meat and cabbage--for the same reason. She was a working mom short on time who always made us home-cooked dinners) I love the dumplings, but sometimes I make this because it is way easier.
We put mint in the yogurt sauce and ground coriander in the meat sauce (i also sometimes add a little pomegranate molasses.) Will have to try your spices instead.
Also, my mother always added chickpeas to her sauteed leek mixture.
I know this dish is not at all authentic, but it is delicious and I just wanted to share for those who think aushak sounds delicious but are intimidated by the idea of making the dumplings.
I second the afghani posters. I have made a very similar recipe both with green onions and with leeks and the leeks were amazing. Once you try the leeks, you won't make the onions again.
I made huge quantities of the leek recipe with our CSA share and i froze them and they were my last minute dinner if i had people over and no time to cook. they were always extreemly popular.
Yum! Thanks for posting back. I was thinking about aushak awhile ago, and might have to make them again now that you mentioned it and found a new recipe.
Strangely, neither of the links you posted is working for me. Although, Blogger.com is having serious problems (I use them for part of my site), and Cooking with Amy also uses Blogger. Perhaps it's a problem on their end.