Cheap Eats 2007: Bamian Afghan Cuisine

So what if “gengirill” is actually ginger ale and not some exotic Pashtun beverage? Tune your ears to the live violinist, whose mournful song yearns for the old country, and the menu’s linguistic glitch becomes a mark of authenticity.

Named after the valley where the Taliban destroyed centuries-old Buddhas, this big restaurant captures Afghan cuisine’s cross-border riffs. The potato-stuffed boolawnee is a lighter, sweeter Indian samosa, the honeyed-raisin qaubili palau an homage to Iran’s cardamom undertones. Sumac-sprinkled lamb kebabs offer a tangy version of Pakistan’s favorite dish. Together they create an irresistible salty-sweet dynamic. Don’t miss the sugary sautéed pumpkin with a dollop of sour house-made yogurt, a counterpoint that keeps the fork moving.

Open daily except Sunday for lunch and dinner.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.