We've been so busy lately, we hadn't gotten around to finishing posting about the Afghan feast we had on Independence Day! We made Ashak, which are boiled scallion dumplings, with the Afghan Nan. It was a bit of work, but not unmanageable, and totally worth it. While the bread was rising, I was able to start the yogurt sauce, and the dumpling fillings. Instead of homemade yogurt, I opted for a quicker version, that was not as flavorful as the yogurt sauces that we've had in restaurants, but for us, it was quite good, and still complemented the dish well. Highly recommended, this is Kevin's favorite Afghan meal to order. The recipe is adapted from the Classic Afghan Cookbook by Mousa Amiri.
For the yogurt topping:
2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 clove of garlic, minced
dried mint (for garnish)
Line a strainer with a cheese cloth. Place the yogurt in the cheesecloth and let drain at room temperature for at least 3 hours.
After well drained, place the yogurt into a bowl. Add salt and garlic to the yogurt. Stir well, and put bowl in refrigerator.
Before using, add a little water to the yogurt, if it is too thick, and stir well.
For the dumplings:
3 bunches of scallions
1 lb frozen chopped spinach
2 packages of round wonton skins
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Slice the scallions 1/4 inch thick. Place in a colander and wash. Let drain for 15 minutes.
Sqeeze out all water from the spinach. Combine the scallions and spinach into a mixing bowl. Add the salt and cayenne. Mix well.
Using water as 'glue', brush a little water on the edge of a wonton.
Place 1/2 tablespoon of the filling in the center of the wonton.
Fold the wonton skin over the filling, and seal the edges, making a half-moon shape. Continue making dumplings until the filling or dumplings are used up. (Most likely the filling will be used up first.)
For the peas topping:
1/2 lb dried yellow split peas
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tomato seeded, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
Sautee the onion with the oil until lightly browned. Add the peas, garlic, black pepper and water.
Simmer until the peas are tender.
Add the tomato, tomato sauce, and salt. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
Assembling the dish:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and vegetable oil to the water.
Add 10 to 12 dumplings to the water. Let cook for 3 minutes and then remove to a plate.
Top with the peas topping, and then the yogurt topping. Sprinkle the dried mint over the yogurt.
Repeat for another plate of dumplings.
Serves 6 to 8 hungry people.