Not long ago, I found myself looking for a new spot for lunch. Not just somewhere I'd never been before, but a cuisine I didn't have the familiarity with. Columbus has more than its fair share of international eateries, but I happened to be near the OSU campus. Luckily, I happened on Cafe Kabul, on Olentangy River Road just north of Lane Avenue, which is, as far as I know, Columbus' only Afghan restaurant.
If you're a newcomer to Afghan cuisine like I was - think of it as a midpoint between Middle Eastern and Indian. I didn't find anything I tried to be spicy (but very flavorful, nonetheless). Vegetable dishes tend to be stewed like Indian food rather than fresher like Middle Eastern. There are plenty of kebobs on the menu, but I concentrated on the veggies - eggplant, tomatoes and spinach are all exalted in Afghan food.
If you'd like to try a little bit of everything, there is a lunch buffet. It's a great way to introduce yourself to these new flavors. The standout for me was an eggplant dish called buranee bonjon - a generous stack of roasted eggplant slices topped with a garlicky tomato sauce, olive oil and thick yogurt. Sobsi is a stewed spinach dish, kind of similar to an Indian saag dish. But instead of spiced overtones, this was really subtle and had a true spinach flavor - nutty almost. These dishes are both best eaten with a portion of the foccacia-like non bread.
Have you ever jumped into a new cuisine? What's your favorite?