Blog post written by Rania Abdullah, IUPUI Dietetic Intern
On September 3rd, 2021, Afghan refugees began arriving at Camp Atterbury, which is just south of Indianapolis. The evacuees are expected to arrive in waves, and Indiana has the potential to host 5,000 Afghans.
Gleaners Food Bank is seeking to understand the Afghan food and culture in order to welcome these new neighbors and better meet their needs. This blog post will take you on a tour of some of the customs, values, and foods that are important to the people of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan country outline and flag inlay. Image from commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_map_of_Afghanistan.svg
Language, Art, and Culture
There are more than 48 languages spoken in Afghanistan, but the most common are Dari (Farsi), and Pashto. Afghans live in tribes, divided into many subcultures, that share the same food, clothes, art, and lifestyle. Afghans are famous for handwoven rugs and ancient oil paintings found in caves. Musical instruments played in Afghanistan include harmonium, santur, tabla (small drums), sitar, and zurna. Afghanistan has many important architectural sites such as Herat, Mazar-l-Sharif, and Ghazni.
Foods and Dietary Practices
Mutton (lamb) is the most popular meat eaten in Afghanistan. Chicken is also common, and it is usually served with long grain rice, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Favorite produce items include eggplant, spinach, potato, carrot, peas, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, dates, and melons. Fresh mint and coriander are also very common.
Popular Afghan dishes include:
Festivals and Holidays
Islam is the major religion in Afghanistan. Islamic holidays are celebrated according to the lunar calendar:
Ramadan is a very important month for Muslims. Image from ucf.edu.
Sarah Wilson, RDN, Nutrition Manager at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, along with guest blog posts by dietetic interns