Ashak (Dumplings with spiced lamb)

Ashak (or Aushak), In Afghanistan, these dumplings are typically served on a big platter as a main course. Ashak also makes  an elegant first course. It’s made with a delicate dough and is traditionally filled with gandana (Mixture of chopped fresh herbs), a member of the onion family with a mild flavor and an appearance similar to leeks. Although you can find gandana in some specialty markets, It is substituted with garden variety green onions (Scallions). The dumplings are gently boiled and then topped with garlicky yogurt followed by paprika- and coriander-spiced meat sauce. Dried mint finishes the dish.



  • 1 package won ton wrappers
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. dried mint for garnishing

For meat sauce:

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp. paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

For Green onion stuffing:

  • 1 lb. green onions, washed, stems removed
  • ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For Yogurt sauce:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon ground dried garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Meat sauce: Saute the onion over medium heat in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute. Add the lamb and sauté until cooked through, breaking it up like finely minced taco meat. Add the tomato sauce, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, the paprika, coriander and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring regularly for 20 minutes.
  2. Scallion stuffing: While the meat is cooking, finely chop the green onions (use the entire onion). A Cuisinart is useful for this step. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the green onions, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the crushed red pepper. Turn heat to low and sauté until tender.
  3. To assemble the dumplings: fill a small bowl with water and put it at your work station. Set a won ton wrapper on your work surface and dip the tip of your finger in the water. Moisten the edges along two connecting sides of the wrapper. The water will serve as glue for the dumpling. Put about a teaspoon of green onions in the center of the wrapper. Fold the dough in half over the green onion in the shape of a triangle. Use the tip of your finger to firmly press the edges of the dough together to form a tight seal. Next, lift the two longest points of the triangle and press them together, creating a little circle over the dumpling. It will look like a fancy napkin fold.
  4. Cooking dumplings: While you are assembling the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. Add the vinegar. Once all of the dumplings are done, immerse them in the water and boil according to directions on the won ton package (about 4 minutes).
  5. Making yogurt sauce: While the dumplings are boiling, quickly stir together the yogurt with the garlic and  ½ teaspoon of salt.
  6. Serving: Gingerly scoop the cooked dumplings out of the water with a slotted spoon, a few at a time, and arrange on a large platter. Spoon the yogurt over the dumplings and the ground meat on top of that. Sprinkle with dried mint and serve immediately.

Makes 25 dumplings.

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Post Author: dvd

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