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Malmö Lunch: Afghan dumplings at Ariana

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Malmö Lunch: Afghan dumplings at Ariana
The ashak dumplings come garnished with dried mint and fresh coriander. Photo: Richard Orange
07:59 CET+01:00
Ariana, Malmö's only Afghan restaurant, might be the only place in Sweden you can buy the delicious ashak and manti dumplings characteristic of northern Afghanistan, writes The Local's Richard Orange.
On Friday afternoon, the restaurant, which looks onto the Falsterboplan, or Jesusparken, square, was crowded with a mix of Swedes taking an exotic lunch break and Afghans looking for a taste of home. 
 
Jonas Safi, who comes from Afghanistan's northwestern Kapisa province, opened the restaurant in 2011 after seven years in Sweden driving a taxi, and immediately won over curious locals. 
 
"A lot of the other stuff you can find in Persian restaurants, but the manti and ashak, you can't find anywhere else," he says. "If you want it, you have to come here." 
 
He claims that Afghans sometimes travel as much as three hours from cities such as Kalmar simply to sample a plate of his dumplings. 
 
Jonas Safi came to Sweden in 2003. Photo: Richard Orange
 
The ashak, pasta parcels filled with leek and topped with tomato sauce, yoghurt, dried mint and fresh coriander, taste zesty and fresh. The manto dumplings are more filling, stuffed with meat and covered with a fragrant lentil sauce. 
 
Safi said another popular Kapisa dish was Borani, an aubergine stew. "It's soon going to take over from falafel. There are so many people who eat it," he joked. 
 
The 45-year-old claims to have had no interest in food when he started the restaurant, only teaching himself to cook when his business partner, who had worked as a chef cooking Afghan food for 15 years, became ill. 
 
When I was there, I bumped into a group of freelance photographers and writers tucking into the kofta (meatball) curry, and discussing how they differed from the Swedish version. 
 
The kofta meatballs came in a mild curry sauce. Photo: Richard Orange
 
As well as the Afghan specials, the restaurant offers a selection of Indian and Persian style stews and grilled meat. 
 
Diners are served flat breads and lentil soup to start with, and can wash down their meal with cups of tea from a vat brewing constantly in the corner. 
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