Food – Koochi Afghan Cafe

Afghan food, probably something most tentative eaters would avoid however I am always up for trying new cuisines to satisfy my ever demanding taste buds.

Koochi is located in Gungahlin Town Centre and has only been open 3 months.  Upon entering the cafe the decor is tasteful and guests are greeting by an amazing feature wall made to replicate a traditional Afghan house with cracked mud walls and bright blue solid wood doors.  The ceiling is exposed beams with gorgeous hanging replica oil lanterns, surrounding a Afghan carpet draped from above which compliments the carpets underfoot.

The owner Latif is a lovely Afghan man who has been living in Australia for the past 26 years.  Though unable to return to Afghanistan he has picked up traditional recipes from his mother and in fact many of his family members were helping out in the kitchen, a great sign of a meal made with love and care!

We ordered the Kabullee Pallow which Koochi touts as the most popular dish in Afghanistan and in typical “me” style I opted for the meal with the most carbs Borrani Kachalu – pan fried potatoes, topped with a tomato based sauce and served with rice!  We also ordered a side of Afghan Bread which came with tzaziki type yogurt and a chilli coriander dressing.

Kabullee Pallow
The Kabullee Pallow was probably my favourite dish and earns it’s well deserved place as the national dish of Afghanistan.  It is similar to a rice pilaf and is the most flavourful rice I’ve ever tasted.  It’s tastiness may be from being cooked in a stock and is mixed through with shredded carrot, almonds and tiny barberrys that brought a hint of sweetness.  It was like striking gold when we hit the chunks of lamb hidden under the mountain of rice which was served in a lightly spiced gravy.

Borrani Kachalu

My Borrani Kachalu was served with more delicious rice though without the  fun bits hidden in it.  The potato was topped with a tangy tomato sauce drizzled with yogurt and each mouthful was a big hit of flavour.

Feast in progress

Half way through the meal Latif came and brought us a plate of Mantou which was not on the menu.  Mantou is an Afghan dumpling filled with ground beef and topped with a lentil sauce and yogurt.  I would have never guessed that dumplings would be part of Afghan cuisine (though they do share a tiny part of their border with China).  Either way, I had the same trouble eating mantou as my mums homemade dumplings… one bite, filling falls out, mess everywhere.  That was about all they had in common with mums dumplings as the flavours were more Turkish than Asian – delicious.

ManTou – Compliments of Latif

The only thing that I wasn’t a huge fan of was the Afghan Bread which is similar to pita bread however made from a raw, unrefined flour.  Don’t get me wrong, it tasted great but the texture reminded me of rye bread, something you eat when you are on a health kick to clean out your insides.  It has a rough, dry nutritious texture which I think I’d have liked better had I ordered it with soup or a stew.  The dips that it came with were amazing, I was especially a fan of the coriander and chilli dressing (similar to a coriander verde) which packed a good amount of heat and I was tempted to drink it with the teaspoon.

Afghan Bread and dip

All in all the meal was delicious and the service outstanding.  For those diners who are uncertain when it comes to new things there is nothing scary about Afghan cuisine and I found it quite similar to Turkish with the use of sweet spices, lentils and yogurt. 

On the way out of dinner Latif again offered a complimentary Jeelabee which is a deep fried pastry shaped like a pretzel and coated in toffee.  Oily, deep-fried, chewy toffee goodness!  It was the perfect way to end a perfect meal.  I was in so much of a blissed out food coma I stupidly forgot to leave a tip and I am sincerely hoping that by sharing my wonderful dining experience it will make up for my major faux pas.

Next time you are in Gungahlin, forget the greasy pizza places, forget the countless Asian eateries and try something deliciously different! – Koochi Afghan Cafe

Photo sourced Gallimaufry

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