Afghanistan—Bulani

 

Afghan Appetizerafg_pastry

Savory Pastry Triangles
Bulani (or Boulani) 
(Makes 24 or more pieces)

These delicious little pastry packets are filled with potato and meat. Like Samosa's, they're found throughout India, Africa, and the Mid-East.


1 C mashed potatoes (made from 1 or 2 large potatoes)
1 tsp. salt (divided)
1 tsp. ground coriander (divided)
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (divided)
2 T fresh cilantro leaves (chopped)
1-2 T vegetable oil
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (crushed or minced)
1 lb. ground beef or lamb
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 pkg. of 8”- square egg roll wrappers *
1 C vegetable oil for frying

Potato filling: prepare the mashed potatoes by peeling potatoes and boiling them in water till soft. Mash, adding a bit of the cooking water to moisten. Add 1/2 tsp. each of the salt and coriander, 1/4 tsp. of the cayenne, and all the cilantro.

Meat filling: in a skillet, heat oil and sauté onion till soft. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add meat and brown. Add the remaining 1/2 tsp. each of the salt and coriander, the remaining 1/4 tsp. cayenne, and black pepper. 

Assembly: combine meat and 1 C potato mixture. Let cool. Cut each 8”-square egg roll wrapper in half—into two 4 x 8 strips. Drop 1-2 T of filling on the bottom of each strip. Now you're ready to fold into pastry triangles.

Fold the egg roll strips as if you were folding a flag:

  • Fold the lower right corner, on a diagonal, to the left edge.
  • You now have a little triangle at the bottom of the strip. 
  • Fold upwards along the straight horizontal edge of the triangle. 
  • Make one last fold on the diagonal back toward the right edge 
  • Now you have a little triangular packet; not as complicated as it sounds.
  • Wet edges of pastry to seal and flatten with your hand.

Deep frying: in a deep skillet, bring cooking oil to 350 degrees. (The oil must be hot.) Cook triangles in batches, about 4 minutes a side, till golden brown. Drain on towels. (These can be made ahead of time and heated up in a toster oven, not a microwave.)

Serve the boulani with yogurt mint dip (1 C yogurt, 1 crushed garlic clove, ¼ C chopped fresh mint).

* Buy egg roll wrappers at Asian food stores. You can also use filo dough, available in most grocery stores.

| See more Afghan recipes |

Tips & Glossary

Afghan food is similar to the Middle East's and India's, using use many of the same spices. But Afghan cuisine is milder and lighter than its Indian cousin.

Many of the ingredients used in Afghan dishes probably aren’t in your spice shelf, but you'll find them at Asian or Mid-Eastern shops.

Deep Frying: be sure oil is hot; otherwise food will be soggy and greasy. Use a deep-fry thermometer to achieve the called-for temperature. When cool, oil can be strained, refrigerated, and re-used.

Basmati Rice: literally “Queen of fragrance." This rice, cultivated in India, is known for its delicate flavor and fragrance. 

Besan: also known as “gram flour,” made of ground chana dal, like chickpeas, only smaller and lighter in color. 

Cardamom: related to the ginger family. Pods (green, brown, or black) are the best way to store cardamom. But high-quality ground is also available. A rule of thumb: 10 pods = 1 1/2 tsp. ground.

Coriander: aka cilantro, Chinese, or Mexican parsley. Both fresh leaves and dried ground seeds are used in Afghan, Mid-East, Asian, Indian, and Mexican cuisines.

Garam Masala: literally, “hot spice,” usually a mixture of cinnamon, cumin, cloves, nutmeg, and green cardamom seed or black cardamom pods. Because it loses its flavor quickly try to buy it with whole spices and grind it when you need it.

Ghee: clarified butter. Melt 1 lb. unsalted butter over low heat for 20 minutes (careful not to burn), remove from heat and skim away solids. Strain through cheesecloth into a separate container and keep…forever. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated. If you buy commercial ghee, make sure it comes from real butter, not hydrogenated oils.

Rosewater: distilled from rose petals and used to flavor Mid-Eastern and Asian cooking. You can make your own—but why? Buy it.

Turmeric: a deep yellow ground spice, member of the ginger family, used in curries. It has a marvelous earthy, peppery flavor.

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