Restaurant: The Helmand
Location: 143 First St, Cambridge, MA 02142. (617) 492-4646
Date: October 18, 2017
Rating: I miss real Afghan like this
During my quick trip back to Boston I had a night by myself in Cambridge. Google turned up a well reviewed Afghan place and since our LA “go to” Afghan went out of business (sigh) I had to try it out.
Over not far from the Science Museum.
They bake their own bread in a tandoor-like oven.
Afghan bread. Fresh out of the oven.
Left to right: yogurt, tomato based sweet chili sauce, mint sauce, and butter.
I put them all on the bread. I love the combo of these 3 sauces.
Because I was alone I ordered a bunch of appetizers.
Aush. Homemade noodle soup served with beef sauce and mint yogurt. Underneath were noodles and beans. I didn’t know about the beans. Good stuff. Very tangy with nice herby notes.
Bowlawni. Brick oven baked twin pastry shells, one filled with pumpkin the other filled with spiced potatoes. garnished with yogurt and mint. The yogurt is basically lebneh (love it) with that thick texture. These were surprisingly great. Thin crispy bread with savory stuffing, not unlike a flat samosa.
Mantwo. Homemade pastry shells filled with onions and beef. served on yogurt and topped with carrots, yellow split peas and beef sauce. I asked for no split peas.
But I added the sauces on top. Great dumplings. The Mongols brought these to Afghanistan but they have a uniquely central Asian flavor profile.
Aushak. Afghan ravioli filled with leeks and scallions, served on yogurt-mint topped with ground beef sauce. Flatter dumplings. Similar sauces. A bit more meat in the sauce. Great texture and bright tomato/yogurt flavors.
Sheerberaing. Rice pudding, served with pistachio and cardamom. Pretty much exactly the kind of rice pudding I was looking for. Very firm (I hate it too runny) with that pistachio and cardamom (and maybe a hint of rose water) flavor.
Overall, I didn’t have that many dishes but what I had was excellent. I saw all these nice kabobs and stews going to other tables too — but with only one person the huge portions would have been too much for me. Service was very nice and attentive too. Clearly a well run family restaurant.