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Deconstructed Aushak (Afghani Ravioli)

21 Apr

Our winter without end continues to hunker down on top of us these days. Occasionally you will have a rare glimpse of spring encroaching (I write from Winter’s perspective – he fights hard, oh so hard, these days). Like the tree next to our apartment which exploded into bloom last night or the night before. I rode up on my bike yesterday afternoon, though the cold mist and general nastiness, and my heart fluttered a bit in hope when I saw it:

The jerk who graffitied the wall of the villa there did it ages ago, without the context of the tree. At least this week, and probably next, it has some literal value.

And the seasonal traditions continue as well, despite the ill-matched weather. On the way home from work some days back I saw a typical spring occurrence, although I have no idea about it – the breweries near the office all do something like this:

Beer procession?

Beer procession?

I don’t know, maybe it is just marketing. It’s weird to see a carriage and horses hauling barrels of beer around normal streets where cars and trams pass by. Spaten – the brewery – is just around the corner from us – so I guess this little parade was on its way there.

Damn it, it is supposed to be WARM and SUNNY today. At least according to Apple’s weather report for Munich. WTF?

I just finished baking some plantain chips. I’ll sprinkle them with some salt and pepper and hope that the sun will come out later so I can go sit in a beer garden and eat them. That would be very summery. One can hope.

Meanwhile, what I really wanted to write about was a cooking failure transformed into a success. I came across this recipe a couple days back, and it must have been cold and yucky on that day as well (the rule rather than the exception at the moment), because even though the recipe is full of leeks, a vegetable I associate more with spring, it also has a rich lamb sauce and garlicky yogurt. More of a wintery feel to it. Perhaps appropriate for the weather schizophrenia. Indeed, topped with mint oil, and paired with a minty Hugo, it all becomes a little confusing. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, because it’s simply an amazing dish.

Now what about this failure? The dish is supposed to be leek ravioli topped with a lamb or beef ragu and a garlic yogurt sauce and sprinkled with mint oil. This is Afghani in origin, and I’ve never eaten these yet in a restaurant. I need to keep an eye out for them. Here’s what they are supposed to look like:

Afghani Aushak

Afghani Aushak

My failure was simple. I bought some fresh sheets of lasagna pasta at the grocery store to use for the ravioli. But they were simply too hard. I should have just used the won ton wrappers that every single recipe I read recommended. Or else made the dough myself. By the time I realized that the dough wouldn’t work it was 7 pm. The won ton wrappers I have in my freezer were a frozen block. There was no way in hell I’d be able to defrost them quickly enough.

But…for your future reference, Deconstructed Aushak are just as tasty I think, as the real thing. I quickly sliced the dough into fettucini-thick strands, threw it into my boiling water, drained it a few minutes later and tossed it with the leek mixture that should have gone into the ravioli. Plated it up with a ladle of the lamb ragu, a large dollop of the garlic yogurt and dribblings of the mint oil. Success.

Deconstructed Aushak

Deconstructed Aushak

It was faster as well, although I wouldn’t have minded making the ravioli. Will try these again, perhaps on Thursday evening this week, when some girlfriends come over for dinner.

I followed the recipe linked above mostly to the letter with a couple exceptions: I added some chopped fresh dill, mint, cilantro and parsley to the leek mixture. And I used some turkish chili pepper in there as well. I could imagine making this completely vegetarian as well. Instead of a meat sauce, I would make lentils. Not a creamy daal, more of a lentil porridge, where you still have a bit of the grain of the lentil intact.

Happy cooking – these are worth a try!

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