Located in the beautiful hills of Great Falls, Virginia, this family owned restaurant called Zamarod features the elegant and flavorful cuisine of Afghanistan.
While interviewing owner and chef Dor NIaz, I was surprised to learn that farmers in Afghanistan grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Some of their best crops include tomato, pumpkin, quince, apples, turnips and rhubarb. As a result, Afghans frequently feature vegetables as an entrée rather than a side.
Two particularly memorable dishes at Zamarod are Kadu Chalow, savory chunks of sautéed pumpkin, and Aushack, scallion-filled dumplings layered with tomato sauce. As are many of the dishes here, both the pumpkin and the dumplings are brightened with tart yogurt, a swirl of sesame oil, and crowned with sprigs of fresh mint. Other dishes worth sampling include crispy somosas, mantoo, eggplant, and spinach rice topped with carrots and almonds.They also serve a lamb shank that is fall-off-the-bone tender stewed in tomatoes, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
Diners tend to linger, enjoying steaming cups of cardamom tea, nibbling on baklava and homemade rose water ice cream. Everything is made fresh to order. This cuisine is accessible, not heavily seasoned, light and nutritious. Give it a try, you won’t be sorry!
Dor Niaz has lived in the DC Area since he was in 10th grade. When the U.S. war in Afghanistan began, the American military tapped him to work as an interpreter and teach people who serve overseas about the rich culture of his country. Before this diplomatic mission began, Niaz and his wife had another restaurant, Bamyan in Herndon, which he sold several years ago. After he completed his work as an interpreter, Niaz discovered that he missed restaurant life, and opened up Zamarod, which means “emerald” in Pashto.
Zamarod welcomes guests to dine in, take out, or have a meal on their patio. They have upscale wines and spirits available at their bar. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday, 11:30 am to 2:30 pm for lunch, and Monday through Saturday, 5 pm to 10 pm for dinner. They serve dinner on weekends.
10123 Colvin Run Zamarodafghancuisine.com 703-757-9300
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.