Carlos, his Dad and I went out to The Helmand Restaurant in Cambridge to celebrate Carlos' birthday. The Helmand is a prestigious restaurant in Kenmore Square that serves cuisine from Afghanistan. I took Carlos with me to a social outing once a couple of years ago with a big group of friends and we all dined at The Helmand. Carlos loved it so much that he asked his Dad to take us there for his previous birthday. This year was no different. There was no question that we would have his celebratory birthday dinner at The Helmand. Even though Carlos worked at the Cambridgeside Galleria, right across from The Helmand, for some time he had never had dinner at The Helmand. Now he's making up for lost time!
Here is the happy birthday boy.
At the center of The Helmand is a wood burning oven, where they bake their amazing flatbread. The flatbread is thick, dimpled by hand and it's served fresh and hot right out of the oven. They serve the bread with butter and three dips: a cilantro dip, a spicy pepper dip and a yogurt dip. My favorite? The butter! I guess it's just the Portuguese in me.
For an appetizer, we all shared some Bowlawni, pastry shells filled with leeks and scallions or potatoes. You get one of each on your plate along with a dollop of fresh yogurt sauce.
For dinner, I go the Dwoplaza which is chunks of lamb served on top of a piece of flatbread and covered in a yellow pea gravy. It's served with pallow rice (a rice with extra seasonings) and marinated mushroom salad. Oh my. This was delicious. I took some home with me and it was even better the next day as leftovers.
Carlos had the Koufta Challow, spicy meatballs in a red sauce with vegetables and served with challow rice (a rice with fewer spices than pallow). And those meatballs were indeed VERY spicy. One bit and your mouth will be on fire. The very friendly waiter told us that was one of the spiciest things on the menu.
Carlos loved going back to The Helmand and I did too. I get a bit sleepy after eating there (the food is very rich and bit salty) but oh it was worth it. If you are in the Cambridge area, make sure you stop by Helmand's for a traditional Afghani meal!