Smile Politely

Afghan Cuisine restaurant is a must

Two spring rolls by Afghan Cuisine Restaurant in Champaign.
Ayesha Mehta

Recently, I checked out a new spot in Champaign: Afghan Cuisine Restaurant. This new year has brought a lot of cold and snow. With all the treacherous roads, and windy weather, going out to eat can seem like a lot of work. On those extra cold evenings, I sometimes crave a meal that would hit the spot. 

The delicious food at Afghan Cuisine Restaurant can be the answer to all cravings. Whether one is looking for easy takeout or an evening out, this spot works great for both. There is a variety of seating in a warm atmosphere rich with Afghanistan’s culture. I also saw they have a counter for takeout pickup.

The interior of Afghan Cuisine Restaurant.
Ayesha Mehta

I have never tried food from this cultural cuisine, so I was very excited to step into a new world of food for myself. Afghan Cuisine Restaurant has a variety of meat and vegetarian dishes. I enjoyed seeing many vegetarian options, and I feel this would be a great place to eat for different types of food preference. 

I decided to start off with two appetizers so I could try both a vegetarian and an option with meat. 

The vegetarian appetizer takeout from Afghan Cuisine.
Ayesha Mehta

For my first starter, I ordered the bolani for $6.99, which was a puff pastry filled with a mix of potatoes and spices. This appetizer option was vegetarian. It was crispy and savory.

Two spring rolls filled with chicken and potato.
Ayesha Mehta

For the second starter, I got an order of the chicken spring rolls for $6.99, which were filled with potatoes, chicken, and a variety of spices. The filling was more potato heavy than chicken, which I enjoyed. The outside of the spring roll was different from any other spring roll I have had before. The thin, and crispy pastry that acted as the wrap for the spring roll was a perfect mix of fluffy and crispy.

Both of the appetizers were mild, so no need to worry if for those more sensitive to spice. Both starters came with a side of chutney, which was a sauce they make with yogurt, green chilies, and spices. These sauces added a kick, and they paired deliciously with both appetizers I ordered. 

An order of chicken and rice to-go from Afghan Cuisine Restaurant.
Ayesha Mehta

For my entree, I decided to try the morgh kebab (chicken) for $17.99. This was pieces of chicken marinated in yogurt, lemon, and spices, served with a side of basmati rice and spicy chutney. The chicken was tasty, tender, mild but flavorful, and satisfying. The basmati rice had long grains of rice that were cooked in oil as well, and this rice was the opposite of bland that pairs amazingly well with the chicken.  

After a heart warming meal, I find myself usually craving something sweet — and I know I am not the only one! Lucky for us, Afghan Cuisine Restaurant has a dessert menu as well. 

I chose to try the shir berenj, which is a traditional Afghan rice pudding dessert. I love rice pudding, so I was delighted to try this. The rice pudding was flavored with cardamom which provided a floral and sweet rush for my tastebuds. The rice pudding came topped with almonds, pistachios, and walnuts. This dessert was not indulgently sweet but still satisfies all my sweet tooth needs. 

I greatly enjoy trying new cultural foods; it is always exciting for me. Also on their dessert menu, they have jelabi, which is a twisty, sticky and crispy sweet. It is made up of deep-fried wheat flour batter and sugar syrup. I definitely want to try this next time, as I have had Indian jalebi but never jelabi from Afghan Cuisine. 

The menu at Afghan Cuisine Restaurant is plentiful and filled with many options. The serving sizes are big and perfect for sharing. From curries, to kebabs, eggplant dishes, and soups. I definitely want to try the other kinds of dishes they have on the menu. To learn more, see Afghan Cuisine’s website here.

Overall, if you have not tried Afghan Cuisine Restaurant yet, it is a must — and you will not be disappointed! The food is fresh, authentic and perfect for the cold weather we are dealing with. The food I had is soulfully reminiscent of a home-cooked meal. I am looking forward to trying more Afghan Cuisine from here and continuing to expand my palate and foods I love.

Check out their website here.

Afghan Cuisine Restaurant
723 S Neil St
M-Sa 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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