When you think of South Asian food, what comes to mind? Is it the kebab or is it a Biryani dish?
Most people assume that they are the same.
In fact, there is a major difference between Afghan and Persian cuisine.
For those who love spicy foods, this might not come as a surprise.
In this article, we will compare these two cuisines and point out the key differences as well as some similarities between Afghan food and Persian food so that you can easily pick your favorite.
What is special about Afghan food?
Afghan food is a cuisine that has been around for centuries.
Many people just think of Afghanistan as a country where people eat rats and wear burkas.
In fact, Afghan food is not only delicious but it’s also healthy and has many nutritionally-rich ingredients.
You can find Afghan recipes in other surrounding countries as well, such as India and Pakistan.
The most famous dish of Afghanistan would be “Kabuli Pulao”, which consists of steamed rice with raisins, carrots, and beef or lamb.
Afghan cuisine is a fusion of Eastern and Western flavors with an emphasis on spices like cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, and turmeric.
Afghan cuisine features their nation’s main crops, which are wheat, maize, barley, and rice.
They also use a lot of dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and whey in their recipes as a dressing or topping to provide a tangy taste to their dishes.
What is special about Persian food?
Persian food is a cuisine that has been largely influenced by the country’s geography.
The Persian Gulf, Caspian Sea, and Central Asia are all regions where Iran historically traded with and was conquered by various cultures including the Greeks, Arabs, Mongols, Turks, and Indians.
This has resulted in a diverse range of cooking styles which can be seen from the use of spices to how meat is cooked.
Persian food also includes dairy products like yogurt or cheese which are not used much in other Middle Eastern cuisines.
What differentiates Persian food from others is its variety of vegetarian dishes using rice as a base ingredient such as chelo-kabob (rice with vegetables), polo ba morgh (rice pilaf with chicken), and fesenjoon (a sauce of duck meat with pomegranate).
Another common ingredient used in Persian cooking is lamb which can be seen in most popular dishes, including the national favorite known as kebab.
What are the differences between Afghan vs Persian food?
Afghanistan and Persia are two South Asian countries with one border, therefore, their cuisines share many similarities.
However, there are still some key differences between their traditional cooking.
Afghan food is more influenced by Indian, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern cuisines, while Persian cuisine is heavily influenced by Turkish cuisine
Despite the geographic proximity, Persian cuisine and Afghan cuisine have different influences.
For example, Afghan cuisine is strongly influenced by Indian, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern cuisines.
On the other hand, Persian food has been heavily influenced by Turkish cooking.
Afghan food is usually spicier than Persian food
Another difference between the two cuisines is Afghan food tends to be spicier than Persian food because Afghan people usually use more chili pepper in their recipes.
Persian food is also relatively hot, but it isn’t necessary to be spicy all the time in any dish.
Rice is usually served as an accompaniment to kebabs while Persians serve it on its own
The last thing that sets Persian cuisine apart from Afghan cuisine is how they use rice.
Persians usually eat rice as a single dish, such as rice pilaf, while Afghan people serve rice as a side dish to kebabs.
What are the similarities between Afghan vs Persian food?
Besides the main differences between Afghan and Persian food, these two cuisines are known as similar culinary cultures because of the following features:
Both cuisines have lamb, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and cucumber
Lamb is the main meat source in both countries, rather than pork or beef.
They also share the same seasoning spices and veggie ingredients like garlic, onions, cucumber, and tomatoes.
Rice and yogurts are staples in their cooking
Another similarity is rice and yogurts are staples in Persian and Afghan cooking.
They might not eat a lot of meat, but they make use of milk production and use a lot of dairy products like yogurt, ghee, or milk in their dishes.
These ingredients give their dishes a creamy and tangy flavor.
Persian food and Afghan food rely on fresh ingredients rather than canned food
Both cuisines focus on using fresh ingredients instead of any kind of canned or processed food.
From vegetables, meat, to cooking spices, all are fresh and can be found in their local market.
Which one is better?
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Afghanistan and Persia (or Iran) are two countries in the South of Asia with vastly different cultures.
What is often mistaken for Afghan food is actually Persian cuisine, which has a variety of regional dishes as well as distinct spices.
If you’re looking to try something new when it comes to your favorite type of cuisine or just want to learn more about their culture, it is best to give both a try and choose the one that best suits your taste buds after that.