Afghani Beef & Bean Shorba: A big warm hug in a bowl

Shorba is a general term used in South Asia and the Indian Subcontinent for a warm, hearty soup. Shorba is a popular winter soup dish in Pakistan, Northwestern India and Afghanistan. Afghani Beef and Bean Shorba is one of those soups that envelops my body in warmth but the story behind my family learning this recipe also reminds me of friendship and acceptance.

My grandparents lived in Lahore, Pakistan (which before partition was still part of India)—and my grandfather would travel from Lahore to Kabul, Afghanistan on business. My grandpa was warmly welcomed by many Afghani business associates who quickly became friends. He was often invited into their homes and was introduced to many delicious foods including this Beef and Bean Shorba. My grandpa was Hindu, and the Afghanis are Muslim. In terms of food, this is significant because Hindus do not eat beef. To welcome my grandfather, his friends’ wives would prepare this soup especially for him with mutton or lamb instead of beef.

Beef and Bean Shorba is a celebratory food made for special guests or celebrations in Afghanistan. When my grandfather would eat this soup with his Afghani friends, I can only imagine how the flavors brought them together— creating that magical feeling of being accepted and welcomed.

When my grandpa was no longer traveling to Kabul for work, my vegetarian grandmother learned to make this soup especially for him, and the taste reminded him of the warmth and welcoming ways of his friends in Kabul. He would say that this soup gave him a familiar familial feeling. The spices and beans in this soup are ingredients that are also used in Indian cooking. My grandmother passed this recipe onto my mom who taught me. This is a very versatile soup, and we have adapted it for the Vegetarian and Vegan palette too!

So, come make some Shorba with us and bring it over to a friend or neighbor or better still invite some friends and family and join us to make this soup. Check our schedule for the next available date, we look forward to cooking with you!

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