Sunday, October 14, 2012
Fall is in full swing here. Colder than last year's which sputtered along on warmish weather into a snowless, tepid winter. This year it's fall in the true sense, with cool, crisp air, temperatures dropping to freezing at night, leaving leaves burned with hues of red and yellow and ochre. And with the onset of the cold, the need to pack on more calories seems more urgent.
Exploring a nearby Afghan restaurant and always eager to try new dishes, I've stumbled on an appetizer that seemed fitting for the weather. A salad consisting of chickpeas and potato slices, its transliteration is Shor Nakhod, also sometimes spelled Souur Nakhod. The salad is marinated in a tangy dressing heavy with cilantro, which fills these otherwise mild ingredients with a hefty burst of flavor.
While I do not attempt to claim to have recreated the actual dish here, I made something in a similar style - a result of trying to discern the various ingredients in the dressing, and then making several different versions at home. I've used rice vinegar, together with a bit of lemon juice, along with a heavy dose of cilantro and chives.
Marinating the chickpeas and potatoes ahead of time in the dressing helps tenderize them and make them more flavorful.
Chickpea and Potato Salad with Cilantro Dressing
1 15 oz (425 g) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 small red potato, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
Freshly cracked white pepper
1. Place chickpeas into a mixing bowl, add salt and rice vinegar, and toss well to combine.
2. While the chickpeas are marinating, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the potato slices and boil until soft when pierced with a knife, 5-10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool completely.
3. Add the potatoes to the chickpeas, along with lemon juice, cilantro, chives, and pepper. Mix well. Taste and reseason if necessary. Cover and refrigerate for half an hour to an hour before serving.