Afghani fare in Boulder, tamales to go, Belgian cookies and grilled favas (no Chianti)

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Until April, Afghani food was hard to come by in Boulder. Silk Road Grill and Market opened at 2607 Pearl St., previously home to a couple of Middle Eastern eateries. It’s true that the cuisines in Central Asia and the Mediterranean overlap with dishes often labeled “Middle Eastern.” Silk Road deli dishes house-made hummus, gyros, eggplant-based baba ganoush and the excellent fresh falafel I sampled with yogurt sauce and the longest grain buttery basmati rice I’ve seen.  

This local family also dishes authentic homestyle Afghani fare starting with Kabuli palow. Rice is tossed with seasoned almonds, vegetables, raisins and halal lamb. Next up is a classic lamb shank, simmered with potatoes and carrots. The menu includes lamb tikka kebabs, kobeida (ground lamb and beef meat) kebabs and mildly sweet desserts like knafeh. 

The market area is well-stocked with teas (chai), spices and ready-to-use jarred condiments like grilled red pepper and eggplant spread. 

Boulder Recipe Flashback: Belgian cookies

Boulder’s Belgian Bakery at 3267 28th St. was known for its great European-pastries, cakes, breads and especially authentic cookies from Belgium. The bakery shared this cookie recipe in the early 2000s. You’ll need to shop around to find real “sprinkles.”

Belgian Bakery Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

1 egg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Salt, pinch

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dark chocolate sprinkles (real, not chocolate flavored!)

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg yolks one at a time and then the whole egg, vanilla and salt. Scrape the bowl and add flour and mix until well blended. Stir in sprinkles. Drop rounded tablespoonsful on a buttered baking sheet, leaving room for cookies to spread. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 25 minutes or until cookies are golden with slightly browned edges.  

Another Roadfood Attraction: Fast food tamales 

Just because I love fine dining doesn’t mean that drive-thru fast food doesn’t have a place in my heart. Headed to a gig on a recent Sunday morning, an egg and sausage muffin or bagel just wasn’t going to cut it. Driving down Sheridan Boulevard in Westminster I saw the word “tamale” and said: “That’s it.” 

Tamale Kitchen tamales are fast, cheap and flat-out deliscioso.

I’ve always liked the Tamale Kitchen, and this mom-and-pop, Colorado-born chain now boasts seven metro locations, including one shop just off U.S. 36. The menu includes the necessary chile relleno burritos, but I only had eyes for tamales. As I sat in the parking lot, I unwrapped the tamales steaming hot from their corn husk and paper wrappings. Such a simple, satisfying breakfast—cornmeal bundles middled with jalapeno and cheese, red chili pork, and spicy chicken and chili. It’s the very definition of “fine.”

I’m unlikely to take advantage of it, but the Tamale Kitchen has a sale every Friday and Saturday from midnight to 3 a.m. offering $2.72 breakfast burritos and 92 cent bean tostadas, tamales and beef tacos. o

Summer Hack: Grilled fava beans

Enough already with the Dr. Lecter and Silence of the Lambs references! Fresh fava beans are one of summer’s great pleasures and ridiculously easy to cook. You don’t even have to free them from their long green pods first. 

Toss fresh fava pods with some olive oil, sea salt, crushed red chili flakes and lemon juice, and then toss them on your gas grill or, even better, in a smoker. Grill them until they are blistered on one side, about 5 minutes, then flip and repeat. Slip a fava from its skin and taste. It should be creamy, not crunchy and undercooked. Pods actually keep the beans cooking for minutes after they are removed from the grill.   

Culinary Calendar: Soup and kindness

Chef Paolo Neville and his brother, Ethan Neville, host Stone Soup of Kindness, July 30 at Longmont’s Farm 49. The event features organic flatbread pizzas, salad from farm vegetables, and asks participants to bring a vegan ingredient to add to the community “stone” soup. Proceeds benefit Feet Forward for Boulder County residents experiencing homelessness. Tickets at Eventbrite: bit.ly/3z6YsLm 

A summer guide to Boulder County’s Roadside Farm Stands is available at BoulderWeekly.com. Email: Nibbles@BoulderWeekly.com

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