The Bolani is unique to Afghanistan, and is not only a much loved streetfood but also served in homes as an appetizer or as a side dish at special events and parties. Bolani is typically served with a green coriander/ cilantro chutney called Chatni Gazneesh and a mint flavoured thick yogurt (Chakkah) sauce/ dip. Bolani e Katchaloo is the version of the flatbread that is filled with mashed and seasoned potato. Sometimes the potato filling includes chives or spring onions and sometimes it doesn’t. The Bolani is somewhat like the Indian stuffed flat bread called paratha, and the Bolani e Katchaloo in particular is similar to the Indian Aloo Paratha . So you might be forgiven for thinking that both are probably two versions of the same food, but it is not so. Though both are filled with mashed potato, the taste of the filling and so the flatbreads are distinctly different. For one, Indian parathas are made with wholewheat flour while the Afghani Bolani is made with plain/ all-purpose flour. The seasoning in the filling makes the Bolani much milder in taste than the Paratha.
Aloo Parathas are usually round in shape because the outer whole wheat wrapper is enclosed around the filling, then the flatbread is rolled out and then pan-fried to cook. The Bolani on the other hand is shaped like a turnover by folding the dough over the filling into a half-moon shape and sealed. It is then pan-fried as well, but flattened out some more in the pan while it cooks.
I never knew about the Afghani Bolani until a discussion on Facebook (where else?) about something brought a comment from my cousin-in-law mentioning the Bolani as a stuffed flatbread somewhat like the Aloo Paratha yet different.
That had me looking into what it was and how to make it. The next thing my family knew was that they were having it for lunch and enjoying it very much too. While the Bolani itself is a very tasty flatbread, it is the combination of the Bolani with the spicy green coriander chutney and cool soothing yogurt dip/ sauce that makes this so satisfying. So if you are looking for a stuffed flatbread that isn’t very strong on spices yet not bland, filling and not requiring too much effort or time in the kitchen then this one should satisfy those criteria. Most people are sure to like it, and who doesn’t like the potato however disguised it comes? I must also mention that Bolanis make for an excellent alternative to a sandwich or a lunchbox item. If you are new to the world of filled flatbreads or just want a more visual explanation, this video on how Bolanis are made should be useful. My recipe below has been adapted from various sources, too many to mention or credit.
Afghani Bolani/ Boulanee e Katchaloo (Potato Spring Onion Turnovers or Stuffed FlatbreadChantni Gazneesh (Afghan Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney)
This Chatni/ Chutney is nothing but a slightly tangy and spicy green chutney made from fresh coriander/ cilantro and pairs up beautifully with the Bolani.
It is somewhat like the Indian Green Chutney which tends to be very popular as a dip for deep-fried snacks, in crunchy street food called “Chaat” and the Indian Chutney Sandwiches.
The difference is that the Indian version also uses mint and lemon juice instead of vinegar, but no garlic or nuts, and green chillies instead of black pepper.
Chantni Gazneesh (Afghan Fresh Coriander/ Cilantro Chutney)Minty Chakkah (Yogurt Sauce)
Chakkah is really nothing but a thick and creamy strained yogurt that is frequently served in Afghanistan either as a dip or a sauce. Chakkah is also used as an ingredient in many Afghani dishes, and sometimes stireed into certain soups, stews and Kurma for its creamy texture.
Chakkah can be made at home and the process is very simple. It just involves straining yogurt through cheesecloth for a few hours, so that what you’re left is a very thick and creamy residue. Depending on where it is being used, it is either very thick (like dollops of heavy cream/ Greek yogurt) or else a little thinner, but never very liquid.
The recipe below is more of a set of directions, like the one above and both are open to adjustments to suit one’s personal tastes.
Minty Chakkah (Yogurt Sauce)
The Afghani Bolani is my submission to Zorra’s Bread Baking Day whose 61st edition is being hosted this month by Anusha Praveen at Tomato Blues with the theme “ Stuffed Breads ”. It’s also being YeastSpotted !