This is a lamb kebab dish that my mother remembers preparing for family picnics in such places as the valleys beneath the Hindu Kush mountains for the Meleh Golghondi – a festival that honours the fleeting, but striking, week-long bloom of the fuchsia-leaved arghawan trees.
Like the scenery, this dish, with its contrasting colours and textures, is a favourite in Afghan cuisine for its striking presentation, and forms a beautiful centrepiece on any Afghan table.
As is common in Afghan cooking, a pressure cooker is used here to cut down the time it takes to tenderise meat, and also to evenly cook the ingredients. If you don’t have one, use a large saucepan, but allow an hour or so to cook the meat. You’ll also need to soak the split peas for a few hours before you start.
Combine the red onion and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside for 1 hour or so to lightly pickle. This will be used as a garnish later.
Place the lamb shanks into a pressure cooker with the brown onion, turmeric,
Remove the meat and add the yellow split peas to the pressure cooker. Bring to the boil, uncovered, over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the split peas are soft and completely cooked.
To serve, lay the naan flatbread on a platter. Arrange the lamb pieces on top, spoon over the spilt peas and garnish generously with pickled red onion, mint and freshly ground black pepper. Tear off bite-sized pieces of naan with lamb and split peas and enjoy.
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