Friday, May 1, 2009

Helmand--Afghani hospitality

The Palateers remember hearing stories of the Afghanistan of old. A backwater quiet country filled with a pleasant people set amongst high rising mountains and crumbling antiquated hill forts. Before the Russians, Taliban and other fighting forces, Afghanistan was the go-to destination for backpackers and travelers. The country still holds a certain unattainable allure, and we dream of hiking the Kyber Pass or traversing the same road as emperor Babur. Alas, those days have passed away, but fortunately, we in Boston can still enjoy cuisine of this ancient land.

Helmand Restaurant in East Cambridge, arguably one of the best dining experiences in Boston, offers an authentic rich Afghani eating experience. From their clay tandoor to their plush comfortable seats, Helmand has an eye for detail. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming and the service is always friendly and attentive. Throw in delicious food and a great wine list and you can see why the Palateers were won over.

For our appetizer, we sampled the Kaddo ($7.50). A hefty portion of soft hot pumpkin drizzled with a sugar and floating in a yogurt sauce was delicious. The complimentary tandoor flat bread was a perfect helper in scooping up every last smudge of this dish.

For our main course, we shared the Dwopiaza ($18.95) and the Mantwo ($14.95). The Dwopiaza included tender pieces of succulent medium rare lamb served with yellow split-peas and a brilliant rice dish. The Mantwo was a devilishly creative dish, which included pasta like shells filled with ground beef and spices. This was also smothered in exquisitely appealing yogurt sauce. The portions were hefty—which was fine by us because we have no problems with leftovers.

A true gem of Boston and a restaurant that is great to bring the folks, Helmand is a memorable meal that will inspire dreams of Afghanistan in the hearts of any uncertain soul.

143 1st St 
Cambridge, MA 02142 
(617) 492-4646

1 comment:

  1. The original Helmand is in my hometown of Baltimore, MD. It is widely considered to be one of the top 2 or 3 restaurants in the city, and eventually expanded to Boston. You missed a really interesting point about the restaurant. It is owned by the Karzai family, the same family the US Government picked to run Afghanistan after sacking the Taliban.