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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Aushak Dumpling Recipe

I love dumplings! Russian pelmenyi, Italian ravioli and gnocchi, Japanese gyoza, Chinese wontons, potstickers, dim sum...I don't think there is a dumpling I don't adore. But I'm more likely to order them in restaurants than I am to make them at home. In the same category as tamales and blintzes, making dumplings is one of the more time-consuming cooking projects around. That said, sometimes you fall in love with something so much that you need to find a way to re-create it at home despite the bother.

One of my favorite dumplings is something I could only find at an Afghani restaurant. Until now that is. Aushak, a boiled leek dumpling with yogurt and meat sauces, is so good it's hard to get enough of them. Perhaps that's why they are offered as both an appetizer and a main dish on the restaurant menu. Leeks make a fresh, green filling that has some body to it, unlike mushy spinach. The two sauces are a balance of a white, yogurt, tangy one and a red, rich, meaty and savory one. A little mint tops the whole thing off, a green counterpoint to the green filling. (but I suppose you could serve this with other sauces if you are vegetarian or just not inclined to making two sauces)

No question this recipe is labor-intensive, but absolutely delicious. The good thing is you can make a big batch and freeze plenty of it for another day. Or you can prepare this dish with friends, assembly line style and make a day out of it.

Serves 4


Leek filling
2 leeks (about 2 cups chopped)
3 green onions, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp hot chilli pepper

1/2 pkg of wonton wrappers

Meat sauce
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion (1/2 cup chopped)
1/4 cup water
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch black pepper
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1/2 cup water

Yogurt sauce
1 cup plain yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt


Cut most of green top and roots from leeks, halve lengthwise and wash well. Dry with paper towels and chop finely. Fry leeks and green onions gently in oil until soft but not brown. Combine leeks and green onions in a bowl with salt, cilantro and hot chilli pepper.

To assemble: Place a teaspoon of leek filling in the center of the wonton wrapper. Using your finger, wet edges of eggroll skin with water and fold in half, sealing edges. Fold the dough in half and seal by pressing the edges together very firmly. Roll aushaks in flour and place on a tray. Cover with a cloth until required.

To finish bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Drop in aushaks and boil for
5-7 minutes. It is best to do this in batches of about 10 at a time. Remove when cooked and keep warm over simmering water.

For the yogurt sauce, mix all the ingredients together and adjust seasoning to taste.

For the meat sauce, blend onion and 1/4 cup water in blender until liquid, then mix beef in pan together with the onion and brown in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When dry add the remaining water and other ingredients to meat and cook 20 to 25 minutes over medium-low heat. Final sauce should be very thick and dry.

To serve: spread some of the yogurt sauce on a plate. Top with hot aushaks and cover with more yogurt sauce. Top with meat sauce. Garnish with finely sliced fresh mint.