Art & Culture

Afghanistan: Kunduz celebrated for its traditional cuisine

Kunduz province in the northeast of Afghanistan is renowned for its traditional foods, cherished by people across the country. A standout dish is Kala-O Pacha, a meal made from the meat of a cow’s lower leg, hoof, and head.

This region, particularly in the north and northeast of Afghanistan, is well-known for its rich culture and culinary delights. There’s a popular saying, “If you visited Kunduz but did not eat Kala-wa Pacha, you missed a big part of the enjoyment.”

Najmuddin, a 70-year-old chef, has been cooking Kala-O Pacha for 50 years and has become a local legend. “Pacha [Kala-O Pacha] is a royal meal. It cures any disease. Particularly the way I cook it, it is not harmful to anyone,” he said. “There are many fans. I have had many clients over the past 50 years, and they are happy about my cooking.”

Akhtar Beg, a restaurant owner in Kunduz, mentioned the popularity of the dish. “Sometimes we don’t even have a place for clients because of the crowds,” he said. “Our prime workdays like Monday, Wednesday, and particularly Fridays, see client numbers surge two to three times. There would be no place for clients even.”

Restaurant owners note that the meal attracts more food lovers during the winter season, with people traveling from Kabul and other provinces to taste the delicious food of Kunduz.

Islamuddin, a resident of Kunduz, shared his routine. “I visit the restaurant at least twice a week. Pacha [Kala-wa Pacha] is a traditional food. Many young athletes are using it,” he said.

Kunduz city in eastern Afghanistan.

Mohammad, who traveled from Kabul, expressed his fondness for the meal. “It is a country food that attracts more food clients in winter. Particularly on Fridays, the number of people eating the meal rises,” he said.

A single serving of Kala-O Pacha currently costs 180 Afghanis in Kunduz. The dish has also found fans in countries like Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, and Arab nations.