Recipe Source: Saberi, Helen. Afghan Food & Cookery. Hippocrene Books, New York, 2000 p. 142
This recipe wasn't as well received as I wanted it to be, and it's not because of the recipe at all. It's not even because of the changes I made to the recipe, which were admittedly significant. It's because of the setting in which I served this dish. I've been trying to cook more at home and dine out less often. In order to preserve some time to spend not in the kitchen and doing some of the many other things required of me - managing a local non-profit, managing a daughter, managing a home, et cetera - this requires me to make a lot of dishes ahead of time. Unfortunately the extreme flexibility our lifestyle requires means that sometimes the meal planned for one day doesn't actually get consumed. It then needs to get either frozen and served another day or discarded. I'd much prefer the first option. This was initially intended as a weeknight meal for my family. It was served at a Sunday open house. That Sunday we crammed about sixteen people around a table that would normally seat about six comfortably. People couldn't cut the meat up, they couldn't easily remove bones from the food. They couldn't easily eat this dish. It tasted fine, what you could actually eat of it.
As I mentioned, I made a few changes to the recipe. I used brown rice because that's what I keep on hand. I unfortunately didn't have quite enough rice on hand for the quantity required in the dish. The original called for lamb - expensive - or chicken. I used a turkey breast because I prefer turkey to chicken. I don't think they use a whole lot of turkey in Afghanistan, but it's a tasty bird nonetheless. I replaced the spinach with collard greens from my farm share. My notes suggest that I used 85 cloves of garlic, but I think that I was just very tired when I was scribbling and actually just increased the garlic by 5 cloves (+ 5 instead of 85; 85 seems excessive even to me.) 4 ounces of leeks turned out to be 2 leeks, white parts only. I dulled down the chiles because my daughter has been convinced that she doesn't like chile peppers.
Turkey and Rice with Collards (serves 4 as an only course; approx. cost per serving not available)
2 cups brown basmati rice
1 turkey breast, chopped into about 6 - 8 pieces
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 bunch collard greens, washed and chopped
2 leeks, white parts only, washed and finely chopped
2 teaspoon dill weed
1 jalapeno, chopped
- Dutch oven
- Saute pan
- Put the rice in the bowl. Fill with water and soak the rice in it for at least an hour.
- Meanwhile, heat 6 tablespoons of the oil in the Dutch oven.
- Add the onions and garlic. Fry until brown and soft. If you really feel compelled to add salt - I didn't - this is the time to do it.
- Add the turkey pieces and continue frying until the meat is browned.
- Add 1 cup of water and the spices.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the meat is tender.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in the saute pan.
- Add the leeks. Fry until softened.
- Add the collards. Stir-fry until reduced in size.
- Reduce heat, cover and cook until thoroughly cooked.
- Add the dill weed, cover and continue to cook until the collards have begun to disintegrate.
- Preheat your oven to 300︒
- Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in the saucepan.
- Drain the rice and add it to the boiling water.
- Parboil the rice for 4 - 5 minutes,.
- Drain the rice and add it to the Dutch oven with the meat.
- Add the cooked collard greens. Mix gently.
- Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake 45 minutes.
- Transfer to a platter and serve. Garnish with the chiles.