A fried, filled flatbread, bolani is a popular Afghan street food. This bolani recipe comes from Walwala Jalalzay, one of the proprietors of the Kabul-Shengjin Cafe in Shengjin, Albania. Jalalzay is an Afghan refugee who was forced to flee her home in Kabul after the Taliban seized power last August; along with a business partner, she started her Afghan restaurant last November as a way to feed her fellow Afghan refugees. Her bolani are stuffed with potato and chives and served with a tomato chutney. A glass of dogh, a yogurt drink, completes the meal, providing customers with both refreshment and a taste of home. — Rebecca Marx
Potato and Chive Bolani Recipe With Tomato Chutney and Dogh
For the bolani:
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1½ cups lukewarm water
1 pound potatoes, peeled and quartered (roughly about 3-4 large potatoes)
1 cup chives, chopped, or 1 bunch green onions
½ teaspoon chile flakes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
For the tomato chutney:
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
For the dogh:
3 cups yogurt
2 Persian cucumbers or one regular cucumber, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dry mint
½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
2 cups water or as needed
Sliced cucumber and mint sprigs for garnish
Step 1: In a large bowl, mix the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, vegetable oil, and warm water until a somewhat stiff dough forms. On a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth, about 10 minutes. Return to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
Step 2: In a small pot, boil the quartered potatoes until they are soft. Drain, place in a bowl, and set aside.
Step 3: If you’re using chives, you can skip this step. If you’re using green onions, fit a steamer basket over a pot and steam them for 5 minutes. Alternately, you may blanch them for about 3 minutes. Chop the green onions once they’re cool enough to handle.
Step 4: Add the green onions to the potato mixture and season with chile flakes, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Using a fork, mash the potatoes and lightly fold the ingredients to combine. Set the potato filling aside and keep warm.
Step 5: Assemble the tomato chutney. In a blender or small food processor, pulse the chopped tomatoes until they have a chunky consistency. Add the chopped jalapenos, garlic, vinegar, salt, and sugar, then puree until well blended like a thick paste.
Step 6: Form the bolani. Take the well-rested dough and divide it into 6-8 portions. On a floured surface, roll each portion into a ball, then roll out each ball into an approximately 8-inch thin circle (almost like a tortilla). Repeat for the rest of the dough balls. Place each disc on a sheet pan, keeping them separated with parchment so they don’t stick. Cover with a moistened paper towel to keep from crusting.
Step 7: Spread about ⅓ cup of filling on half of each rolled-out disc, leaving a half-inch border around the edges. Fold the dough over the filling to create a half-moon-shaped bolani. Gently press down to seal the seams. Repeat for the rest of the bolani. Place each one on a sheet pan, but keep them separated to await frying.
Step 8: In a deep pan over medium heat, add enough vegetable oil to shallow fry the bolani. (Start with about ⅓ cup and add more if the pan gets too dry.) Fry each bolani for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until it is light brown. Transfer the cooked bolani to a sheet pan lined with paper towels to blot out the oil.
Step 9: Make the dogh. In a blender, blend the yogurt on high speed until frothy. Add the finely chopped cucumber, dry mint, and salt, and continue to blend until everything is well incorporated. Add water. If the dogh is too thick, you may add more water to adjust it to a drinkable consistency. Garnish with sliced cucumber and mint sprigs.
Step 10: Serve the bolani on a dish or tray with the tomato chutney on the side, accompanied by glasses of dogh.
Walwala Jalalzay is an Afghan businesswoman. She was displaced by the recent conflict in Afghanistan and is currently in exile in Albania, where she runs the Kabul-Shengjin Cafe.
Louiie Victa is a chef, recipe developer, food photographer, and stylist living in Las Vegas.
Recipe tested by Louiie Victa