Apparently since we went to Fremont's De Afghanan a couple of years back, they've developed into some sort of crazy food serving empire with several locations in the Bay Area.
So we went to Berkeley to eat some bolani.
This time, there were six of us, so we were able to do some serious ordering. And the joint was a little more amenable to a slightly more leisurely time - we weren't sitting basically in the kitchen, like we were in Fremont.
BOLANI! Of course. I love flatbreads. All breads. And this one, like an aloo paratha, was stuffed with potato and greens. It's served with a nice homemade yogurt, tart and thick, and there's a spicy red chutney and a sweeter mint-green chutney on the table.
We also had dainty little cups of cardamom-scented tea and hearty glasses of dogh (or doogh), an afghan version of a salty lassi with cucumber and mint.
The Shor Nakhod, a chickpea and potato salad with a lemony punch, went nicely with the bolani.
And then dishes started coming out hot and heavy, or fast and furious, or whatever your choice of idiom may be.
Mantu - dumplings filled with spiced ground beef and onions, and topped with lentils and more beef and more onions and a drizzle of that beautiful homemade yogurt. A little bland for my taste, though still tasty.
Sabzi (a cooked spinach mixture similar in taste and texture to India's palak paneer, though minus the cubes of cheese) and teka kabob, cubes of beef cooked over an open flame. By the way, their rice was freaking great. Perfectly moist, yet separate. I think a lot of butter might have been involved?
Borani Kadoo, my favorite - seasoned pumpkin (our waiter, who I think might also have been the owner, was insistent this pumpkin was called "butter squash") topped with yogurt and herbs. The herbs tasted like they included sumac and possibly oregano, but what really stood out about this dish was the creaminess of the squash and the striking COLOR. Beautiful! And more delicious yogurt, too!
The chaplee kabob is a flattened patty of spicy beef, flavored with cardamom and lemon and cumin (?) and topped with green onions. Extra-popular at our table.
Afghan bread! It's a bit thicker than most Indian breads or Middle Eastern pitas, and has a nice sesame flavor.
We were all more than pleased with our delicious lunch, but the extremely nice man who'd been waiting on us insisted we try the menu's single dessert, firni. It's a creamy, thick pudding flavored with rosewater, pistachio, and cardamom, and is incredibly delicate in flavor. I think it's fair to say this tasted fancy.
Thanks (again), De Afghanan, for your wonderful food and extra patience with people who want to order your whole menu!
De Afghanan (Berkeley location) is at 1160 University Drive. 510.549.3781.