August 23, 2005 > Afghan Village
For most of us, Afghanistan is a land far away, known only by news clips of dusty war-torn villages and forbidding mountains. This image is imperfect at best and belies the strong traditions and beautiful countryside of this mountainous land. Sitting astride ancient trade routes from Central Asia into India, this land has been a commercial crossroads for centuries creating a unique and diverse heritage.
Travelers often brought artifacts as well as their customs and traditions with them leaving a rich legacy behind. Cooking styles and ingredients were subject to indigenous preference but strongly influenced by foreign traders. Fresh vegetables and the use of "halal" meat (prepared in strict observance of Islamic Law) became important in Afghan cooking.
The best of Afghanistan cuisine resides in a shopping center of Newark. Although the center bears little resemblance to the mountainous country found between Pakistan, Iran, China and the former Soviet republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, once through the doorway, it is easy to believe these countries are close by.
Afghan Village, a Newark oasis of tranquility and beauty, offers the best Afghanistan has to offer the palate. Omar and his wife Samra offer "real Afghan food" using fresh ingredients and offering something for all tastes. Vegetarians are comfortable with favorites such as Bolani - handmade dough shells filled with leeks or potatoes and spices baked on a flat pan served with yogurt and special sauces. A'shak, Afghan ravioli, can be served with or without meat and Ka'do Borai is a treat not to be missed. This pumpkin dish is a new and welcome experience for those unfamiliar with Afghan food. Diners can also try Bodinjan Borani, an eggplant dish served with yogurt and Afghan bread.
Meat lovers will bond with Afghan Village. The nomadic tribes of Afghanistan often had little time for extensive food preparation and developed a style of cooking that is recognized as a Kabob. A variety of kabobs wait for selection at Afghan Village - lamb, Filet Mignon, ground beef and chicken. A unique dish of Afghanistan is Qabely Pallow consisting of lamb served with rice and topped by carrots and raisins. Is someone in your party in the mood for fish? Trout and deep-fried catfish should satisfy their cravings. Whatever your menu decision, large servings are accompanied by rice and Afghan bread to ensure that no one leaves hungry.
Try to leave a little room at the end of your Afghan feast for Sher Yakh, ice cream prepared Afghan style. Served in a dish by itself or with crushed ice and rose water, this treat is unique and delicious. The spacious dining room of Afghan Village has seating for 146 people and the restaurant offers catering for outside groups of up to 1,000 hungry people.
Now there is another choice for midday diners at Afghan Village. A buffet serving some of the best dishes the restaurant has to offer has opened from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. weekdays. At an embarrassing low price, this lunch alternative, while inexpensive in price is not low-cost fare. For those who have never experienced the savory cooking of Afghanistan, the buffet offers an easy entry with a good selection of well prepared dishes. Others who crave their favorite selection and do not find it on the buffet table, can still order from the menu.
Hosts, Omar and Samra are anxious to share their culinary heritage with Tri-City diners and the well appointed dining room always makes lunch or dinner a pleasant occasion. Omar says, "The United States has been good to us. We want to show our appreciation by providing a pleasant dining experience, true to our Afghan heritage, for everyone."
5698 Thornton Ave., Newark
11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Mon - Thur
11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Fri - Sun
(alcohol is not served or permitted at Afghan Village)