Boiled leek pastries with yoghurt and meat sauce

The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Alan Benson

It is popularly believed that Marco Polo introduced noodles to Italy from China. Some 50 years before his travels, Arabs and Indians were eating noodles, called rishta in Arabic (a name still used today and derived from the Persian word for ‘thread’), and sevika in India. As Afghanistan was the natural land route from one area to the other, it’s anybody’s guess where rishta, sevika or aush originated.

All this preamble because the usual English description of aushak is leek ‘ravioli’ with yoghurt and meat sauce! With all respect to the Italians, to prevent confusion I have refrained from using Italian words. This recipe is of ancient origin, and without doubt Afghan. Only the tomato is a recent introduction and probably replaced tamarind or some such acid ingredient.


Quantity Ingredient
1 quantity Aush
2 leeks
1/4 teaspoon hot chilli powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2-3 teaspoons dried mint

Keema (meat sauce)

Quantity Ingredient
125ml vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
500g lean minced lamb or beef
125ml tomato passata
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

Chakah (yoghurt sauce)

Quantity Ingredient
500g drained yoghurt, (see note)
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon salt


  1. Make the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Cut off and discard most of the green tops from the leeks. Halve them lengthways and rinse well to remove all traces of soil between the leaves. Remove the roots and dry the leeks with paper towels. Finely chop the leeks and measure in cups.
  3. Combine the leek in a bowl with the chilli powder, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1 tablespoon of the oil. If desired, the leek may be fried gently in oil until soft.
  4. Divide the dough in two and roll out very thinly on a lightly floured work surface. Cut into 5 cm rounds or squares. Stack and cover them as the shapes are made; roll out the trimmings and cut to shape.
  5. Working one at a time, place a teaspoon of the leek filling in the centre of the dough. Moisten the edge with water and fold over to make semi-circles; fold squares into triangles. Seal the edges by pressing with the edge of a thimble or the tines of a fork. Put each pastry on a cloth-lined tray and keep covered with another cloth.
  6. To make the keema, heat the oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion until translucent. Increase the heat, add the meat and stir until crumbly. Cook until the juices evaporate and the meat browns. Reduce the heat and stir in the passata and 250 ml water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and cook until the moisture evaporates and the mixture is oily. Keep hot.
  7. Combine the chakah ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  8. Bring 2 litres water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon oil. Drop in about 20 pastries and boil for 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a colander set over simmering water. Cover and keep warm while cooking the remaining pastries.
  9. Spread half the chakah on an oval platter. Top with the hot pastries and cover with the remaining chakah. Rub the dried mint to a powder and sprinkle over the chakah. Top with the hot keema and serve immediately.


  • To make strained yoghurt, blend 75 g full-cream or skim milk powder and 1.5 litres whole milk, preferably homogenised. Pour into a clean 1.5 litre jar, cover with a lid and stand in a saucepan of water. Heat the water until the milk temperature is 80°C. Remove the jar from the hot water bath and cool to 45°C. Remove 60 ml of the warm milk and blend it with 60 g fresh, commercially made yoghurt. Stir the mixture into the milk in the large jar, then pour into smaller jars. Seal the jars with their lids and stand them in the preserving pan. Add water to the pan to come up to the necks of the jars. Heat until the water temperature reaches 50°C, then remove from the heat. Cover the pan with a lid, then wrap in thick towels or a blanket. Leave undisturbed for 3 hours. Remove the jars, screw the lids on tightly and store in the refrigerator.
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Middle Eastern
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