Carb on carb is considered very naughty.
But we, the Afghans do it, the Pakistanis do it with our spiced potato sauté mopped up with pillowy naan; the Poles do it with their pierogies and you haven’t really lived yet if you haven’t been to that trattoria in Baschi, Umbria and had a silky raviolo stuffed with a velvety potato mash, served with a fruity olive oil and shavings of that musky, sweet, intense black truffle. That dish is called “i-want-to-lick-my-plate-and-the-person-who-created-this-combination”.
This is before I was married, of course.
Now licking of a random chef in a restaurant is verboten.
Afghan boulani have that sort of effect on you- you want to lick the plate and the paper they are on.
And the cook.
They are utterly moreish, the perfect combination of crispy, chewy, hot- like a samosa. You have to eat them when they’re hot, straight out of the pan. Well, you don’t have to, but for those of you who have peered impatiently over your mum’s shoulder as she’s frying something and eaten it right off the newspaper-lined plate whilst burning your fingers-you lot know what I mean.
Eat these standing in the kitchen, dipping them deep into a bowl of mint and yoghurt chutney whilst burning your mouth and fingers as the steam pours out with each bite.
It’s well worth it.
You will need a rolling pin and a 15cm pastry cutter (or you can use the lid of a small saucepan).
For the pastry:
*300g flour, sifted
*1 1/2tsp salt,
*200-250ml of cold water
For the potatoes:
*1kg potatoes, halved (I use medium-sized yellow ones)
*6 stalks scallions, sliced into thin disks
*salt to taste
*1/2 tsp black pepper
*1/8 tsp white pepper
*1/2 tsp pink pepper berries + more for garnish, crushed in a spice mixer or with a pestle and mortar
*oil for shallow frying
For the pastry:
*Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl and slowly, tablespoon by tablespoon, start to add water and knead till it forms a dough.
*Knead for 10 minutes and then divide into 4 balls. Cover with a teacloth or plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour.
*In the meanwhile, prepare the potato filling.
For the potato filling:
*Bring a large pot of water to boil and add potatoes.
*Boil till fork tender, about 15 minutes, depending on the potato you are using.
*Drain potatoes and when they have cooled, remove the skin.
*Transfer to a large bowl and mash with a potato masher. I like the mixture to be chunky (versus completely smooth).
*Add scallions, salt to taste, black pepper, white pepper and pink pepper berries.
*Mix to combine.
*Set aside while you roll out the dough.
*Roll out one of four portions of dough on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin till dough is half a centimetre thick.
*With a pastry cutter, approximately 15cm or a saucepan lid, cut out circles.
*Place on parchment paper as you shape them and cover with a teacloth.
*Repeat the process of rolling out the dough and cutting out circles, for all four portions of dough. Use the scraps of dough, too.
*On half of each round, place 2-3 tbps of the potato filling. Moisten the edges of dough with a finger dipped in water and fold dough over the filling to form a half-moon. Pleat the edges shut (you can also seal them with a fork).
*Press down around filling to force out any air.
*Place boulani on parchment paper and cover with a teacloth till ready to fry.
*Place oil in a large frying pan or skillet for shallow frying on medium heat.
*Fry 2-3 boulani at a time, 1-2 minutes per side or till golden brown.
*Transfer to a newspaper or towel paper lined tray to absorb the oil.
*Garnish with crushed pink pepper berries and some scallions.
*Serve with a green chutney of your choice.