I have never had Afghan food before. So when Michael suggested to go to an Afghan restaurant as if it were a regular thing, I was intrigued. Helmand is located right by the Cambridgeside Galleria and offers Middle Eastern cuisine in a spacious dining room with unfamiliar decor and cushioned chairs. Situated on the side of the restaurant is a clay oven that offers fresh baked flat bread, so needless to say, I was ecstatic.
We started off with kaddo, pan fried sweetened pumpkin with a yogurt garlic sauce and ground beef. I know, weird. I did not realize that pumpkin was a thing in Middle Eastern cuisine, but I have to insist that you order kaddo if you dine at Helmand. I've been thinking about this pumpkin concoction ever since I had it a few weeks ago. It's a heavenly combination of flavors and textures and something totally unexpected and completely novel to me. Pumpkin. Do it.
I then had lamb lawand, which is sauteed leg of lamb in yogurt (obsessed with yogurt sauces) and spices served with spinach and challow rice. The lamb was not as tender as I would have liked it, but it was very flavorful. However, I must admit that the challow rice was the ultimate highlight.
Challow rice is basmati rice baked with cumin and cardamom. It was the most fragrant rice I have had in awhile, and I can undoubtedly eat bowlfuls of it alone. Michael had the mourgh challow, chicken sauteed with yellow spit peas in a yogurt and spice sauce. It was another very flavorful dish that went very well with the rice (my closest comparison would be a typical curry dish --served as a sauce/gravy).
I'm sure you've gathered from my description that I really enjoyed Afghan food. My friend Neil that is currently in Afghanistan right now is not giving me the same raving reviews of what he's eating there, but this Cambridge locale is definitely beckoning me to return. It's a bit pricey for ethnic food, but the only real thing that would have improved my experience would be if the restaurant transformed into an after hours hookah (chillim) joint.
|Kaddo (sorry, it's a lot more appetizing than what I photographed)|
|143 1st Street|
Cambridge, MA 02142