Afghanistan is a fascinating country in which to research vegetarian meals, because some believe it is their god-given right to eat meat, and vegetarians are often shunned. Traditionally these pastries, known as boolawnee, also contain chicken — but they are so stunningly tasty they need no meat at all. Serve with Mint chutney, Chutney for momos or Tomato chilli jam.
For the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Working quickly, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs; having cool hands will really help here, as the butter may otherwise melt.
Make a well in the centre, pour in the water and mix to a firm dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until elastic, dusting with more flour if necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, get started on the filling. Heat the rice bran oil in a small frying pan over medium heat and cook the garlic for a minute or two, until lightly coloured. Tip the garlicky oil into a small bowl and leave to cool.
Measure out 3 cups of the leek and place in a bowl. Add the salt and chilli powder and knead with your hands, to soften the leek. Stir in the garlic oil. Place the mixture in a heavy-based frying pan and heat through for about 3–5 minutes, until the leek softens, then remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Roll pieces of the dough into balls the size of a large hazelnut, then roll each out thinly, into a 10 cm (4 inch) circle. (Alternatively, roll out the dough and cut into 10 cm/4 inch rounds using a cookie cutter.)
Place about 2 teaspoons of the leek filling in the centre of each circle. Moisten the pastry halfway round the edge of the circle, then fold the pastry over the filling. Press the edges together to seal well.
Using the edge of a thimble (the traditional method) or a teaspoon, make little crescent-shaped marks around the pastry edge, or decorate by pressing with the tines of a fork.
Pour about 10 cm (4 inches) of vegetable oil into a deep heavy-based saucepan and heat to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns brown in 15 seconds.
Fry three or four pastries at a time in the hot oil for about 3–5 minutes per batch, or until golden brown, turning with tongs to brown them evenly. Be careful, as the hot oil will spit! Drain on paper towel while cooking the remaining pastries.
Enjoy the pastries hot or warm, with your choice of chutney or relish.
© 2018 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.