I don’t really know much about Afghanistan other than the capitol is Kabul and we had a war there. So Gavin and I explored some children’s books about Afghanistan. Afghanistan is one of the oldest settled areas in the world since it is between the Fertile Crescent and India. Most of the people seem to be subsistence farmers and goat herding is popular. The population of Afghanistan is the same size as that of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio put together.
Pictures of the country remind me a lot of Eastern Washington. There are miles of barren hills and grass lands. It’s a landlocked country with no ports and only a few rivers. One is an offshoot of the Indus. The Hindu Kush mountains cross in the Northeast into Pakistan.
Here’s some interesting facts we found about the country:
- Buzkashi is a national game that looks like polo with a stuffed goat carcass.
- the fascinating religion of Zoroastrianism started here
- poppies are a big crop as well as wheat, fruits and nuts
- literacy is 36%, 21% for women
- the people are 42% Pashtun and 27% Tajik (Persian)
- goat is the most commonly eaten meat
- people eat with their fingers seated on the floor around a heated table (sandali – similar to the kotatsu in Japan)
- Mongols brought noodles to the country
- kite flying is a popular activity
- more than 30 languages are spoken
- Islam is the main religion but Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Hinduism are also practiced
Here’s some photos from the internet:
from Kite Running
Tajik kids with the Hindu Kush behind. Some guy’s flickr
Yes that is a headless goat. Some other guy’s flickr.
In the next few weeks I’m going to try and make a few dishes and read a few books.
Here are some of the most popular dishes:
- Qabli Pulao (Kabli Pilau) – Yellow Rice with Chicken, Raisins and Carrots
- Kababs (Kebabs) – we’ll probably have chicken since we are not huge lamb eaters
- Qorma (Korma) – I’m not sure how similar this is to an Indian korma
- Mantu – steamed meat filled wontons
- Chalow – white rice Afghan style
- Kofta – meatballs in curry sauce
- Osh Pyozee – onions stuffed with ground meat and rice – this is probably the first I’ll make
- Halwa – a wheat dessert
- Baqlawa – baklava
Books that were recommended:
- The wars of Afghanistan: messianic terrorism, tribal conflicts, and the failures of great powers – Peter Tomsen
- Afghan Food and Cookery – Helen Saberi
- Food of Life: a book of Persian and Modern Iranian cooking and ceremonies – Najmieh Batmanglij
- The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini