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Afghan Kitchen


Afghan Kitchen
35 Islington Green
London N1 8DU
020 7359 8019

12 noon – 3.30 then 5.30 – 11
Closed all day Sunday and Monday

Average price per head: £15

Every year, one global cuisine is chosen as the nation’s favourite. Over the last few years, our taste buds have been taken to Japan, Morocco and most of the South-East Asian peninsula. Well, I’m happy to stick my neck out and say that 2002 should be the year of Afghan food. And where do I base this idea? Not on an assessment of the international geo-political situation, but on a visit to the Afghan Kitchen in Islington.

For those on a low-carb, Atkins, Hay or other fad diet, stop reading now. Afghan food is based around meat and carbohydrates and proud of it. So proud of it in fact, that the short menu at the Afghan Kitchen hasn’t changed in the seven years it’s been open. With four meat dishes and four vegetarian dishes, the choice is as straightforward as the food.

The venue itself is pretty straightforward too. No mock ethnic wallpaper or taped Afghan chanting in the background. Just whitewashed walls, long wooden benches and a couple of plants over two floors. You would be forgiven for thinking you’d just walked into one of those noodle bars. It seems globalisation has hit Afghanistan.

With four of us eating, it was easy to order most of the menu: chicken in yoghurt, fish stew with potatoes, aubergines with yoghurt, lentil dahl and kidney beans, chickpeas and potatoes with – you guessed it- yoghurt. Accompanied by fluffy white rice and large naan-type bread, this apparently is 'traditional Afghan home cooking'.

The ubiquitous yoghurt means the food is not as spicy as Indian or as delicate as Thai. In fact, this is warming comfort food. The sweet chicken tasted of spices such as cinnamon and cumin (though the chef refused to be drawn) while the fish stew was a good mixture of morsels of soft white fish, which broke up on the tongue and potatoes, though slowly cooked, retaining their bite.

The vegetarian dishes come as a riot of colours and textures: the rich purple of the aubergine and its meaty consistency, the bright orange stew of the lentil dahl – these are not subtle dishes, but great on a miserable autumn night. The kidney beans and chickpeas with (more) potatoes are even more hearty, and really a meal in themselves.

If this isn’t enough to convince you that Afghan food is (whisper it) the next big thing, have I mentioned cost? Nothing on the menu is over £6 – except for the wine list with 2 reds, 2 whites that start at £10 a bottle and the champagne. Mark my words, Afghanistan is where it’s at.