Panjshir, Falls Church, VA

Desperation set in last night as closing time loomed near, so Panjshir it was.

I came close to going entirely vegetarian, and there wasn’t much difference that I didn’t. The only dish that contained meat was the Aushak ($5.95), a few scallion-filled dumplings topped with seasoned yogurt and (nominally) meat sauce, sprinkled with mint.

That appetizer was mixed in with three side orders, as well as Panjshir’s homemade (and on this particular evening, somewhat hard) sheet-baked bread.

Shalgham ($5.95) is a must-order here, whether as a side order, or as an entree. Slices of turnips, cooked (really, almost caramelized) with tomato sauce, butter, onion, fresh ginger, brown sugar, and Kashmiri masala, it’s a consistently good dish that I go after time and time again.

Kadu ($5.95) is probably canned pumpkin (I’ve always wondered which Afghan pumpkin dishes are, and aren’t, canned), and has a similar presentation to the Shalgham, sauteed, and topped with tomato sauce and seasoned yogurt.

Banjan Buranee ($5.95) is eggplant, and like the Kadu, is sauteed, and topped with tomato sauce and seasoned yogurt.

There’s a lot of overlap in the side dishes here, but it’s a good overlap. Panjshir recently closed its Vienna sibling, but I’m glad it’s still open in Falls Church for its solid and consistent, if not always sparkling, Afghan cooking.

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