Chefs' Recipes

Watch: how to make bolani with Farida Ayubi of Parwana Afghan Kitchen

All along the Silk Road you'll find spin-offs of the stuffed-and-fried flatbread formula. In Afghan cuisine, it's the bolani that has top billing.

By The Ayubi family
All along the Silk Road you'll find variations of the stuffed-and-fried-flatbread formula – see the gözleme in Turkey, the gutap from Turkmenistan, and the goshnan of the Uyghur people in north-west China. For the Afghan community, it's got to be bolani, a half-moon round of dough stuffed with greens, fried, then served with a cooling yoghurt.
"They're a popular dish in Afghan cuisine," says Durkhanai Ayubi, who, together with her mother Farida and the Ayubi family, runs Parwana Afghan Kitchen, Kutchi Deli and Shirni Parwana in Adelaide. "They're a nostalgic favourite for a lot of Afghan kids growing up."
The joy is two-fold. There's the act of snatching up a slice of bolani, fresh off the pan. Then there's the preparation itself.
"There's this excitement attached to the process. It's quite communal. It's a dish where you'd get together with family and friends, make the dough, fill it with the stuffing, and fry them on a hot skillet until they're golden and crispy. You just keep eating and making them hot as you go," says Ayubi.
The secret lies in the dough. After some gentle rolling and kneading, it should be elastic without being sticky, and with a slight firmness. "[After resting], it should roll easily and not tear. It should stretch well," says Ayubi.
Traditionally, the filling is made with gandana, a leek-like vegetable common in Afghanistan. It's near impossible to find in Australia, but can be substituted with the common leek or, as Farida demonstrates in the video above, with garlic chives. Other spin-offs include bolani filled with minced meat or sautéed pumpkin.
There are other secrets to bolani success. After folding the dough over the green stuffing, ensure it's sealed properly – moisten the edges of the dough with water, and lightly pat down the seam. And your pan should be at a high heat before sliding in your half-moon creation. "You want your pan to be quite hot, otherwise the bolani can end up more limp than crispy," says Ayubi.
Camera by Durkhanai Ayubi, video editing by Julia Gronowski, words by Yvonne C Lam

Ingredients

2 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried yeast
1 tbsp oil
1 cup lukewarm water
Extra flour for dusting
Oil for frying
Yoghurt, to serve
Filling
2 bunches garlic chives
1 bunch coriander
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
½ tsp salt
Black pepper, to taste