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The Helmand in Baltimore

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How's their food compared to what one would get in Afghanistan?

Not having a basis to compare, I have visited here on several occasions over the years when I had group of people with varied palate, but never as personal choice to explore more as I find their food in general bit on a sweet side and bland. If this is as "authentic" or "original" as one would get in Afghanistan - or better yet the Helmand region - I would love to visit here more to explore and learn. Any experience or thoughts? Regional differences in nutshell?

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  1. You'd probably do better at Maiwand Kebab in Arundel Mills. I can't personally vouch for authenticity, but their food is tastier and less expensive than Helmand.

    1 Reply
    1. re: flavrmeistr

      I can't speak to either the food in Helmand Province or the food at Arundel Mills, but I can say the Helmand Restaurant is a bit of a bargain for a white tablecloth restaurant with good service in pretty surroundings. Haven't found it sweet, but the food is consistently well-cooked. I'm a fan.

    2. I now live in Dubai which does have a range of Afghanistani restaurants. The food is different than served at the Helmand. It's not sweet and I've yet to find any restaurants that serve pumpkin dishes (the Helmand is famous for its baked pumpkin and fried pumpkin ravioli/dumpling appetizers). Lots of rice and grilled meat dishes or meat baked with rice, which the Helmand does offer, but not quite as sophisticated.

      Given the background of the owners the Helmand's menu is probably more representative of the cuisine enjoyed by affluent Afghans than the regular everyday population.

      It's still a very good restaurant and I prefer it to the ones I've tried in Dubai.

      1. Thanks for your insights and recommendation.

        If indeed the food here represent the "affluent" cuisine of Afghanistan, it would certainly be interesting to explore more.

        Roland, it's hard to imagine for me that you prefer here over the ranges of Afghan restaurant in Dubai as I would think the food is likely better represented there. Is it perhaps because majority of them are there to meet the need for migrant workers that focuse more on price and quantity?

        3 Replies
        1. re: Kurtis

          One doesn't always want "better represented" food. It's not necessarily the case that the more "authentic" = "better." China is a perfect example - lots of great food, but lots of dreck too and plenty of horrendous dishes that may be "authentic" but I'll take PF Changs over them any day.

          Basic Afghan food from what I've seen is unremarkable. Tough grilled meats served with rice. Most people in Afghanistan are extremely poor and have incredibly basic diets. They're not going to have access to the range of spices and flavorings or quality of produce/meat that liven up dishes. The Afghans in Dubai (as in Afghanistan) are poor workers and the focus is quantity over quality, which is true for peasant food worldwide.

          1. re: Roland Parker

            Yah, it sounds pretty awful.

            Do you find basic Afghan food in Dubai is representative of the same in Afghanistan? This is not always true in many ethnic restaurants existing outside of their own country. Agree that "authentic" doesn't equal "better", but sometimes that's not the goal, YMMV.

            1. re: Kurtis

              Several of our acquaintances regularly go to Afghanistan for work (defense contracting).

              I asked about the food. They all laughed and said Afghan food was absolutely dreadful, but oddly enough there were several pretty good Lebanese restaurants catering to the overseas aid workers/defense contracting workers.