Afghanistan is not known for its cuisine, not like Iran or Lebanon, or India. It doesn’t mean it’s bad, but Afghan food is simple and filling, and heavily reliant on meat. One problem with a country like Afghanistan is that when local people go out to restaurants, they want good tasty meat and lots of it, so it's also not the most vegetarian friendly destination.
Breakfast is a very very simple affair in Afghanistan. Don't expect anything hugely inspiring – you won't be able to get smashed avocado on sourdough, let’s put it that way.
For breakfast expect some flat bread, simple cottage cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggs (usually boiled or fried), some jams, sweet biscuits and of course tea. Afghans love their tea and drink it regularly and with lots of sugar.
The biggest meal of the day for Afghans is traditionally lunch, however there usually isn't much of a difference between the two meals, they’ll just be different sizes. There are three main dishes that you'll be able to find almost everywhere for either meal. Afghans love these dishes and thus you'll end up eating a lot of them. They’re all delicious, but by the end of a week or two you’ll be quite happy to get a bit of variety back.
These are dumplings consisting of beef or lamb mixed with onion and spices. They’re very similar to Manty in Central Asia, however the Afghan Mantu comes with a tomato-based sauce and lentils, as opposed to a dollop of sour cream and possibly a sprinkle of dill, which is what you’d find in Central Asia. There is also a vegetarian variety called Ashak, made from leek/spinach and spices, but this can often be difficult to come by.
Kebabs are meat skewers, usually chicken, beef or lamb. Some traditional spices will be served beside the kebabs and you usually break off a piece of bread, dip a bit of meat in the spices and then shove it all in your mouth. The locals make it look graceful, but you'll most likely just make a bit of a mess.
This is rice cooked in a meaty broth, topped with either lamb or chicken, with carrots, raisins, and a few other items depending on local tastes. If a local suggests ordering a whole serve to yourself, insist on sharing with someone unless you have an absolutely massive appetite. We can never quite understand just how much they manage to eat!
As many of you will know Afghanistan is a dry country meaning alcohol is illegal. Likewise, they don't have much of a tradition of non-alcoholic drinks, unlike in Iran for example where there are loads of interesting and unusual non-alcoholic beverage options . However, there are two beverages that you'll get offered at every opportunity they have.
Obviously you can't get a beer with dinner, or a wine, or at any other time for that matter. Afghans’ drink of choice is tea. Their addiction to tea makes the Brits, Indians or Chinese look like tea haters. Every meal comes with tea, and every time in between meals are also tea times. They usually drink black tea in winter and green tea in summer. Lots of sugar.
Similar to Ayran in some Middle Easter countries, this is a yoghurt based salty beverage, often flavoured with mint to give it a really refreshing finish.