Kabul Social, an Afghan restaurant run by a team of female refugees, has opened today in the Metcentre in Sydney CBD, just off Wynyard Station. It’s a new concept by Plate It Forward, a social enterprise that provides thousands of meals each week to food-vulnerable communities, while offering training and employment to those in need.

The eatery – which is mainly for takeaway but has 25 seats for those who wish to dine in – is blue-hued, a tribute to the beautiful blue buildings of Afghanistan’s capital. It’s serving traditional Afghan dishes reimagined for a restaurant setting with the help of Plate It Forward’s chefs, as well as takes on current street food trends you’ll find in Kabul. The three-part menu features dumplings, Kabuli “burgers” and build-your-own lunchboxes.

Generous serves of six dumplings, stuffed with either spiced lamb (mantu) or garlic and chives (aushak), both come doused in a tomato and lentil sauce, as well as mint yoghurt. Bread is made to order by the diner’s “chief of bread”, Yakut, who hand-rolls and stretches the dough, before shaping it on a cushion-like instrument and flipping it onto a grill. While you can get the stretchy bread by itself, it’s best used as a vehicle for Kabuli “burgers” – a wrap-like dish that’s a popular street food in the Afghan capital. It comes with four filling options: charcoal chicken, spiced lamb, borani banjan (eggplant cooked in tomato) or roast pumpkin, wrapped inside the bread with thick-cut chips, chutney and salad.

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Or, build your own lunchbox by choosing from bases including mash palaw (spiced rice) and Afghan bread, and proteins such as chicken or lamb shoulder.

Not only does the restaurant train and employ women who have recently arrived from Afghanistan, but for every meal bought, it donates two more meals to Afghan communities. One goes to Mahboba’s Promise, a not-for-profit organisation that helps feed widows and orphans in Afghanistan. The other is donated to Afghan communities in Australia. It’s a similar premise to Plate It Forward’s Enmore Sri Lankan diner Colombo Social, which also recruits and trains recently arrived asylum seekers and refugees, and donates meals to Sri Lankan families for every set menu sold.

“At Plate it Forward, we have always taken a long-term view on immediate issues, building
sustainable pathways for community development and employment,” says founder of Kabul
Social and co-founder of Plate It Forward Shaun Christie-David. “Our hope with Kabul Social is to not only highlight the issues for Afghan people and refugees by bringing forward these
voices, but also to encourage people to see how simple it can be to start creating change, and create meaningful impact through something as simple as buying your lunch.”

Kabul Social
Shop 15, Metcentre, Sydney

Mon to Fri 11am–3pm