Vegetarian Aushak Recipe: Afghan Dumplings

This vegetarian Aushak (ashak) recipe features Afghan dumplings that are filled with sauteed leeks & spring onions then topped with garlic yogurt sauce and a hearty vegan lentil walnut mince!

Vegetarian Aushak Recipe | Afghan Dumplings

If you are new around here, first of all, welcome! Thanks so much for dropping by. Secondly, let me quickly bring you up to speed. I’ve been running my travel blog Polkadot Passport since 2014, documenting my adventures around the world. When COVID hit in 2020 and international travel was off the cards, I suddenly had all this time to cook. I discovered that I loved cooking. Like, really loved cooking.

During this time, I was starting to really miss eating international cuisines. I had a brainwave. I might not be able to get on a plane in order to try different cuisines, but I could do so in my own kitchen. So I asked my best friend/ fellow foodie Floss if she’d be up for a crazy challenge… Cook a dish from all 196 countries over the course of a year. She agreed, and our around the world food challenge began.

We decided to cook through the countries in alphabetic order, so the first country up was Afghanistan. Thankfully, Afghan cuisine is something I was marginally familiar with. And by marginally, I mean I’d tried it once before.

What is Afghanistan cuisine like?

My first encounter with Afghani food happened to be just down the road from where I used to live. Although I had been to our local shops a million times, it took me a year before noticing the unassuming Afghani restaurant situated out the front. After doing a quick search and seeing the restaurant got raving reviews, I decided that I had to visit for myself.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first ever Afghan meal. The flavours across the dishes were very all similar, with spiced tomato sauce, garlic yogurt and mint making regular appearances. It is quite interesting to see the same elements repeated across so many dishes. However, as I have come to learn, this repetition makes preparing an Afghan feast a lot easier.

Out of all the things I tried that night at the Afghani restaurant, the aushak was my favourite dish. I thought these vegetarian dumplings would make the perfect first recipe for our around the world cooking challenge!

Vegetarian Aushak Recipe | Afghan Dumplings

Is Afghan cuisine vegetarian-friendly?

I was pleasantly surprised by the overall vegetarian-friendliness of Afghan cuisine. While a lot of traditional Afghan food is meat-centric, there are more than enough vegetable-based dishes to satisfy.

Popular Afghan Recipes:

  • Borani Kadoo– This Afghani squash salad features pumpkin that is sauteed with tomato sauce and garlic yogurt
  • Borani Banjan– Grilled eggplant with tomato sauce and garlic yogurt
  • Aushak– Afghan dumplings that are stuffed with leeks or chives topped with mince and garlic yogurt
  • Afghan Naan Bread– Traditional flatbread served with most meals

What is the national dish of Afghanistan?

The national dish of Afghanistan is Kabuli (or Qabli) Pulao. It is an elaborate rice-based dish with lentils, raisins, carrots, ground cardamom and nuts. It is most commonly cooked with lamb, however the traditional Afghan dish can be made vegetarian.

Vegetarian Aushak Recipe | Afghan Dumplings

What are Afghan Dumplings (Aushak/ Ashak)?

Aushak (or ashak) is a traditional Afghan dish consisting of pasta dumplings filled with chives or leek. These vegetable-stuffed dumplings are topped with a spiced tomato sauce (which normally contains lamb mince) along with garlic yogurt and mint. Given that aushak can take some time to prepare, the dish is normally served on special occasions in Afghanistan.

What’s the difference between Aushak and Mantu dumplings?

Another dumpling-based dish common in Afghanistan is mantu (or manti). The main differentiation between mantu and aushak is that the dumplings are filled with spiced meat, rather than the meat being served on top.

Afghan Dumplings

Making this vegetarian Aushak recipe

When developing this recipe, we aimed to stay true to the key elements of traditional aushak while making a few of our own adaptations. For the dumpling’s vegetarian filling, we used a combination of leeks, spring onions, garlic, coriander and mint. For the spiced tomato sauce, instead of using lamb mince, we came up with a vegetarian alternative using lentils and walnuts to retain the same hearty texture.

Ingredients for this vegetarian aushak recipe

There are three different elements to this recipe- the dumplings filled with a leek and spring onion mixture, a tomato-based mince made with lentils and walnuts, and a garlic mint yogurt sauce. Start by gathering together the ingredients for each element:

  • Fresh produce– 3 leeks, a bunch of spring onions, 8 garlic cloves, coriander (optional), and fresh mint (sub for dried mint)
  • Pantry staples– a tin of lentils, a tin of tomatoes, and some walnuts
  • Refrigerated items– plain unsweetened yogurt (or use non-dairy subsistute) and pre-made dumpling wrappers (or make the wrappers from scratch if you are so inclined!)

Can you make vegan Aushak?

Yes! Everything in this dumpling recipe is already vegan, the only thing you need to substitute is plain yogurt for unsweetened non-dairy yogurt in the sauce.

How to make Afghan Vegetarian Dumplings (Aushak)

Although these Afghan vegetarian dumplings have a few different elements to them, they are actually really simple to make (especially if you use pre-made dumpling wrappers like we did!)

Vegetarian Aushak Recipe | Afghan Dumplings

Make leek filling: Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add leeks, white parts of the spring onions (reserving green parts for later) and garlic and sauté for about 7 minutes or until leeks are turning soft. Add in vegetable stock and simmer for another 7 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

Afghan Dumplings

Make dumplings: Prepare a lined baking tray and a small bowl of water on the bench. Spoon 1/2 tablespoon leek mixture into each dumpling wrapper. Dip finger in a bowl of water and wet edges of wrapper, then fold in half to form a semi-circle. Pinch edges to seal dumpling, removing all air. If you like, perforate the edges of the dumpling wrapper with a fork. Place dumpling on baking tray and continue until you’ve used up the mixture. Cover dumplings and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.

Vegetarian Aushak Recipe | Afghan Dumplings

Make Yogurt Sauce: Mix together yoghurt, mint, garlic and season with salt and pepper. Set aside in the fridge until serving.

Vegetarian Aushak Recipe | Afghan Dumplings

Make Lentil Walnut Mince: Put toasted walnuts and lentils in food processor and pulse until combined but not mushy. You still want to retain texture so don’t over-pulse the mixture. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper (if using), salt and pepper. Fry for one minutes, until fragrant. Add lentil-walnut mixture and saute for 5 minutes, until browned. Finally, add in tin of tomatoes and 1/4 cup of water cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until juices have been absorbed.

Afghan Dumplings

Cook Dumplings: Bring a large pot of water to a salted boil then lower to a simmer. Carefully lower dumplings in batches into the boiling water, making sure not to overcrowd pot. Simmer for 4 minutes or until wrappers turn translucent. Use a slotted spoon to remove dumplings from water onto a paper towel lined plate.

Serve: Top dumplings with lentil walnut mince, yogurt sauce and spring onion greens.

Afghan Dumplings

Servings suggestions for Aushak

Afghan aushak are typically served as an appetizer. However, in my opinion, these vegetarian dumplings are more than hearty enough to act as a main dish. If you want to go all out, serve them as part of an Afghan vegetarian feast like we did, alongside dishes such as kadoo (sauteed pumpkin), borani banjan (grilled eggplant), Afghan naan bread and pilaf.

Did you make this vegetarian aushak recipe? Tag me at @polkadotpassport!

More vegan appetizers to Make

Vegetarian Aushak Recipe | Afghan Dumplings

Afghan Vegetarian Dumplings (Aushak)

Yield: 40
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

This vegetarian Aushak recipe features Afghan dumplings that are filled with sauteed leeks & spring onions then topped with garlic yogurt sauce and a hearty vegan lentil walnut mince!

Ingredients

Leek Dumplings

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 leeks, greens discarded and sliced in rounds
  • 5 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 40 dumpling wrappers

Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup greek yogurt (sub for non-dairy yogurt)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)

Lentil Walnut Mince

  • 1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 tin brown lentils (420g)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (omit if spice-sensitive)
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes (400g)
  • 1/4 water to thin

Instructions

Make Dumplings:

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add leeks, white parts of the spring onions (reserving green parts for later) and garlic and sauté for about 7 minutes or until leeks are turning soft. Add in vegetable stock and simmer for another 7 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
  2. Prepare a lined baking tray and a small bowl of water on the bench. Spoon 1/2 tablespoon leek mixture into each dumpling wrapper. Dip finger in a bowl of water and wet edges of wrapper, then fold in half to form a semi-circle. Pinch edges to seal dumpling, removing all air. If you like, perforate the edges of the dumpling wrapper with a fork.
  3. Place dumpling on baking tray and continue until you've used up the mixture. Cover dumplings and refrigerate until you are ready to cook.

Make Yogurt Sauce:

  1. Mix together yoghurt, mint, garlic and season with salt and pepper. Set aside in the fridge until serving.

Make Lentil Walnut Mince:

  1. Put toasted walnuts and lentils in food processor and pulse until combined but not mushy. You still want to retain texture so don’t over-pulse the mixture.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper (if using), salt and pepper. Fry for one minutes, until fragrant. Add lentil-walnut mixture and saute for 5 minutes, until browned. Finally, add in tin of tomatoes and 1/4 cup of water cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until juices have been absorbed.

Cook Dumplings & Serve:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a salted boil then lower to a simmer. Carefully lower dumplings in batches into the boiling water, making sure not to overcrowd pot. Simmer for 4 minutes or until wrappers turn translucent. Use a slotted spoon to remove dumplings from water onto a paper towel lined plate.
  2. To serve, top dumplings with lentil walnut mince, yogurt sauce and spring onion greens.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a comment & review above or share a photo on Instagram tagging @polkadotpassport so I can reshare your creations!

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Vegetarian ashuk recipe from Afghanistan (afghan dumplings)

Nicola Easterby Bio Image

HEY THERE, I'M NICOLA!

I am on a mission to discover the BEST destinations & dishes from around the world. In fact, I’ve visited 54 countries and cooked 196 cuisines in this very pursuit. Whether it’s hopping on a plane or into the kitchen, come join the adventure!

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