Afghanistan, Food

Eating naan in Kandahar

Let’s discuss this. This is naan. Not just any naan. This is real, Afghan naan.

It’s my personal belief that by literally breaking bread with another from a different culture, you can learn a great deal from them. Three years ago, I was in Afghanistan for five months. While working with the locals, we were offered tea on a daily basis, usually green tea, drinking it hot and without sweeteners and it almost seemed rude to turn it down. Even during Ramadan, it was a polite gesture by the locals to be offered tea. During those long and very hot days, we politely declined in an effort to respect their days of fasting.

The meals were reminiscent of a typical middle eastern cuisine. We ate lamb, which was questionable and butchered in Kandahar, or goat meat, also questionable, along with rice sprinkled with golden raisins. I never thought I’d see it, but we were also offered ‘doogh’, a yogurt beverage (called ‘tan’ in Armenian) which can lead to a stomach ache if too much is consumed. I was surprised with the amount of fresh watermelon we ate. I didn’t think that much was available in the desert!

Until we found out the local cook had hepatitis.

But then, of course, there was the naan. During our stay, our interpreters would often bring us stacks of naan made in their housing area. There was enough for each of us to eat at least two or three pieces. Baked in a tandoor, or an oven made of bricks, the naan had to be eaten fresh, while the dough was still warm and soft, and you can practically taste the smoke from the oven. Wait too long (i.e. a couple of hours) and it turned hard and stale.

I’ve never had naan this good in the States. It clearly doesn’t compare with the real thing.

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