Zac and Malalai Zikria came to Australia from Afghanistan as refugees. At their Afghan cuisine restaurant in Bella Vista they sell surf and turf, chicken parmigianas, and, even more incongruently, Thai green chicken curry, but hardly anyone orders those. Customers are more interested in Afghan side of the menu.

The qabli pilaf is a mound of slightly sweet rice spiced like a mulled-wine and mixed with lamb, sultanas, nuts and carrots. It’s almost the equivalent of pho in Vietnam or hummus in the Levant, that one dish everyone likes and every migrant misses. Qabli pilaf is a good example of Afghan food, a subtle cuisine that has been influenced by Persia, central Asia and the sub-continent.

Mantu as well. The lamb and onion dumplings are reminiscent of Mongolian varieties but topped in yoghurt and spiced lentils.

If you visit in the morning ask for karayee. It’s curry-spiced chicken wok-fried with eggs, ginger, tomato and spinach. It’s street food usually cooked in three minutes, and its eaten with bread. That and a qaimaq chai, a green tea mixed with clotted cream and sugar. It’s served for breakfast or in the afternoon with a salted cookie.

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Updated: February 13th, 2020

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