Monday, January 25, 2010


Generally speaking, I don't eat breakfast in Afghanistan.* I might scarf down a piece of fruit, or perhaps some yogurt (don't get me started on what passes for Afghan yogurt), but that's about it. Very occasionally (preferably when I don't have anything to do before noon), I'll have some oatmeal.

*Truth be told, I've never been much of a breakfast person. Probably has something to do with an excess of alcohol the night before, and the ability of cigarettes to curtail one's appetite.

However, once or twice a week, I ask my chai-bacha to bring some bulani in the morning.

*Chai-bacha is a Dari word that I basically made up. A combination of "chai" (tea) and "bacha" (boy). Doesn't actually exist in Dari, although it does seem to be catching on. Literally translated, it's "tea boy" meaning the guy who makes tea. But Jamshid, my chai-bacha, is actually way more useful than that. He's the cleaner, the gopher, the all-around assistant for anything that might come up. A more accurate English translation would be the Wodehousian "gentleman's gentleman."

Bulani is a simple, yet marvelous version of the potatoe pancake. Essentially, it's mashed potatoes fried in a pan with oil, and it looks something like this:

Heavy on the starch and the cholesterol, and somewhat burdensome first thing in the morning, but nevertheless a proper breakfast on a cold morning. The key, of course, is the recourse to the Tabasco Sauce and Chili Garlic sauce, which adds a bit of spice to the morning and clears the sinuses. Honey works too.
Next, the crazy, nauseating, absolutely wonderful mix that is an Afghan "burger."

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