In Sydney CBD, just off Wynard Station inside the Metcentre, Kabul Social is an Afghan restaurant 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 is run by a team of female refugees, and is geared mainly for takeaway but has 25 seats for dine-in guests. In tribute to the beautiful blue buildings of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, the restaurant is painted in blue and serves traditional Afghan dishes alongside takes on they city's current street food trends.

You might start with a serve 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”, 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 popular on the streets of 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.

You can also build your own lunchbox by choosing from bases of mash palaw (spiced rice) or 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.

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Updated: September 26th, 2023

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