In this week’s Passover chapter, I am focusing on the Jewish community from Afghanistan and Bukharia (located today in the southwestern part of Uzbekistan). This is especially interesting to me because I know so little about this community. I also find myself wondering where and how to arrange this group in my cookbook so that it makes sense. The Jews from this region are neither truly Middle Eastern, nor Sephardic, but they have some influences of both, as well as a great deal from countries as far east as China and India. They are Central Asian — a part of the Asian continent that stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west, all the way to China in the east, Russia in the north, and Afghanistan in the south, and include the following countries:
The reason that I have decided to group Bukharia and Afghanistan together into one chapter is because it is not so clear to me as to which dishes are purely Afghani, and which ones are Bukharian. Since so many of the Central Asian Jews were traders along the Silk Road moving in and out of these two countries as well as Persia, much of the “Jewish” cooking that evolved over time adopted a combination of cooking techniques and recipes from the general region.