The struggle is real when it comes to zucchini/squash. I'm forever buying them with all the best intentions in the world, then slowly, shamefully watching them rot in the fridge 'cause I'm too useless to do anything with them. I recently discovered THIS DISH, and now my squash-game is changed forever. Borani Kadoo (Afghani Squash Salad) is a game-changer. If you thought you knew delicious, you've been kidding yourself it's an absolutely amazing and super simple dish from Afghanistan.
Like much of the Middle East and Mediterranean, sharing plates and salads feature prominently in the cuisine of Afghanistan. There are many ingenious preparations of the humblest of ingredients. They don't come more humble than the squash/zucchini/courgette. This cooked salad is part way between a salad, dip and stew - it can be served warm, or at room temperature (I prefer room temp) and is perfect alongside mountains of flatbreads to scoop and dip.
As far as ingredients go, there aren't actually that many, but when they're all combined they create such a harmonious balance of sweetness, savouriness and sourness.
Squash is simply fried in oil. The versions I've eaten in Middle Eastern restaurants use A LOT of oil, I'm much more conservative in my quantities but it is necessary to have a certain amount to help create a rich, decadent texture. The overall texture of my recipe is rich, but not oily. Once the squash is soft and lightly caramelised, they're removed and fresh tomato is added to the pan with turmeric and paprika to bring a subtle fragrant spice to the dish. Once it's a harmonious, smooth sauce, the squash is returned to create the most wonderful sweet, earthy flavours.
Once cooked through, I like to cool the dish to room temperature. It's actually even better the day after - flavours develop over time and next-day Borani Kadoo is sublime! I refrigerate overnight then bring back to room temperature for about an hour.
To dress the salad the cooling, garlicky and sour yoghurt sauce is nothing short of inspired. Swipe a piece of bread through the squash and yoghurt and you have the perfect little combo with every bite.
So, at its core, Borani Kadoo is one of the best dishes I've made - ever! As a lover of vegetable dishes, but a clueless wonder at how to change up my vegetable-game using vegetables like squash, this is a new weapon in my salad arsenal. I'm sure you'll agree if you decide to create Borani Kadoo yourself at home.
Other delicious Middle Eastern recipes to try at home
Nothing makes me happier than to see a table full of simple little salads, just like the Afghani Squash Salad, adorning my table. Here are a few likeminded Middle Eastern salad recipes that will sit in perfect harmony with the fantastic Borani Kadoo.
Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan over a moderate heat. Fry the squash/zucchini slices for 5-6 minutes until browned both sides. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
Add the turmeric, paprika, and garlic to the pan and fry for 10 seconds, then add the tomatoes. Stir well to combine. Add ½ cup water, bring to a simmer and cook gently for 10 minutes (uncovered) until soft and reduced.
Return the squash/zucchini to the pan and season with salt & pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes, uncovered. Mash a few of the squash slices with a fork. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
To make the yoghurt sauce
Whisk together the yoghurt, garlic, and salt. Add 1-2 tbsp water to thin out the sauce a little.
Arrange the salad
Arrange the cooled zucchini/tomato mix on a serving platter and drizzle over all the yoghurt sauce. Generously sprinkle over the dried mint/dill and a little lemon juice along with a healthy glug of extra virgin olive oil.
Serve with flatbreads to dip and scoop up the salad.