A fragrant feast from an Afghan kitchen

‘For too long, the dominant narrative surrounding Afghanistan has been trapped in the idea of its conquest, 
taming and manipulation by those who seek to control it. Images of violence and catastrophe almost always prevail,’ writes Durkhanai Ayubi in Parwana, the eponymous cookbook of her 
family’s restaurant. Its pages are an 
antidote to such images, picturing rice dishes studded with jewel-like fruit, rich meat curries and golden dahl, 
and sweets dusted with sugar so delicate they could float off the paper.

The recipes come from Parwana 
Afghan Kitchen in Torrensville, a mile west of Adelaide, which opened in 2009 – 22 years after Durkhanai’s parents, Zelmai and Farida Ayubi, fled from Afghanistan with their young family at the height of the war with the Soviet Union.

‘Parwana began with my mother Farida and her intuition that, as 
 migrants to Australia, it was increasingly important that we preserve the customs, flavours and essence of our Afghan cuisine, and also share it with those in our new home,’ Durkhanai writes. ‘She carried with her a love for her traditional food and the rituals that sit alongside it.’

Mantu (dumplings intricately folded to conceal a stuffing of cabbage and carrot), hand-rolled flatbreads and kofta, often served with layers of sauces and dressings, made it on to the menu; in the book, Durkhanai weaves recipes for them (her mother’s) through the story of her native country’s history, its 
rulers, conflicts and culture.

Along with tales of her own family (her grandfather’s apricot, apple and pear trees, which he planted ‘mostly for the beauty of their blossoms’; their kebabs being cooked ‘over hot coals during the celebrations of Eid’), she shares the dishes – including those below – that have shaped their lives and which will bring beauty to any kitchen around the world.

‘Parwana: Recipes and Stories from an Afghan Kitchen’ by Durkhanai Ayubi (Murdoch Books, £20). Order a copy from books.telegraph.co.uk

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Overnight Defense: Dems divided on length of stopgap spending measure | Afghan envoy agrees to testify before House panel

Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Rebecca Kheel, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.



Chuck Schumer wearing a suit and tie: Overnight Defense: Dems divided on length of stopgap spending measure | Afghan envoy agrees to testify before House panel | Trump leans into foreign policy in campaign's final stretch


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Overnight Defense: Dems divided on length of stopgap spending measure | Afghan envoy agrees to testify before House panel | Trump leans into foreign policy in campaign’s final stretch

THE TOPLINE: The House is back in session this week, joining the Senate, and funding the government before money runs out in a couple weeks is a top to-do item.

Congress is expected to pass a stopgap spending measure. But over the weekend, The Hill’s Jordain Carney looked at how Democrats are divided over how long the continuing resolution (CR) should last.

The November election is complicating the Democratic strategy in the looming government shutdown fight.

Feeling momentum as they aim to win back the Senate and the White House, Democrats are divided over whether to agree to the GOP-favored stopgap bill that lasts into December or push for a longer deal to fund the government into early 2021.

A shorter bill, supporters hope, would force Congress to reach a larger funding deal before the end of the year. But a bill that lasts into next year would take a lame duck shutdown fight off the table and give Democrats more leverage if Democratic nominee Joe Biden is elected president.

“We’ve gone back and forth, it’s a split decision in the caucus. If you can tell us what happens Nov. 3 it is a lot easier. … The uncertainty about the presidential election is an element,” Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) said when asked about the length of a bill.

Neither Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nor Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) have publicly endorsed a timeline. A House Democratic aide noted that behind-the-scenes negotiations about what the strategy should be are ongoing.

Why it matters to defense: The Pentagon is no fan of CRs or shutdowns, warning that readiness is harmed by unpredictable funding.

Defense officials also often warn that the longer CRs go on the more damage is done to the military because the stopgap measures generally prohibit starting new programs or adjusting existing ones.

You’ll recall we reported last week that the administration asked for several exceptions to that rule, including flexibility to fund the Space Force, new submarines and a new nuclear warhead.

AFGHANISTAN DEVELOPMENTS: Much-delayed talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban started this weekend in Doha, Qatar, a historic development that is raising hope, however little, of ending two decades of war.

Back in the United States, a House panel said Monday it has secured an agreement for the Trump administration’s envoy to Afghan peace talks to testify before the committee after it issued a subpoena threat.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, will testify before the House Oversight and Reform National Security Subcommittee when he returns from his trip to Qatar, the

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