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Stuffed Onions from Afghanistan

STUFFED ONIONS from Afghanistan

Fun facts about Afghan cuisine and map of Asia, showing AfghanistanOnions stuffed with lamb, prunes and Feta cheeseThere’s something special about stuffed vegetables. I love the different textures and melding of flavors, and the presentation is exciting. They come out of the oven soft and browned and looking delicious, like a beautifully wrapped present. I’ve stuffed many a vegetable: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and cabbages, to name a few.  But when I learned about Osh Pyozee, (that’s the Afghan name for “Stuffed Onions”), I was immediately intrigued.  Onions are one of my favorite vegetables and I’ve never thought to stuff them.
How to cut an onion for Stuffed Onions from AfghanistanIn this recipe, the onions are boiled and softened so the layers can be separated.  Each onion layer becomes the wrapper for the lamb, feta and prune filling. Because of their shape, they naturally curl around the filling and close up at each end. (remember to only cut halfway through the onion when you trim it, so you get a whole large layer of onion to wrap with)
Ingredients set up for stuffing onionsLamb stuffing with Feta and prunes inside an onion layerThere is no need to add any liquid to the casserole before cooking.  The onions release plenty of moisture while they cook.
onions stuffed with lamb and prunes and Feta ready for the ovenI like the idea of serving these Afghan style – on a communal platter, surrounded by colorful vegetables and salads.  Or serve them as a tapas-style appetizer – one tasty onion roll on a small plate. I tried eating one without utensils.  It was great!  I’d like to say that I did it to be true to Afghan customs but truth be told I just couldn’t resist grabbing one and biting into it.
Stuffed onions out of the oven


Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
A savory filling of lamb, rice, Feta, prunes and spices wrapped with onion and oven-baked
  • Onions
  • 3 large yellow onions (about ¾ pound each), just the very ends trimmed off, sliced lengthwise to the center (as if you are slicing it in half lengthwise – but only go halfway through), outer brown papery skin removed.
  • Stuffing
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • ¾ cup cooked basmati rice or cauliflower rice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 10 pitted prunes, roughly chopped (for each prune make two slices lengthwise, turn the 3 strips so you can cut across them about 4 times)
  • 4 ounces crumbled Feta cheese
  • Olive oil for brushing onions
  • Fresh ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil the bottom of a casserole dish or Dutch oven
  2. Pre-cook Onions Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, immerse the trimmed onions into the boiling water. Partially cover pot and gently boil onions for 20 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer hot onions into a large bowl filled with cold water. Pour out heated water and refresh with more cold water. Let onions cool in the water for a few minutes. To keep from burning your hands, work under water to gently separate the softened outer layers of each onion, one by one, about 4 or 5 per onion, until you get to the stiffer middle section. Put onions layers in a strainer to dry and set aside.
  3. Make the stuffing Put cooked rice in a medium sized bowl and set aside. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small frying pan. Add chopped garlic and cumin seeds to pan and cook over medium heat, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn off heat if garlic starts to turn brown. Scrape cumin and garlic into bowl with rice. Add salt and pepper. Stir rice to combine with spices. Add ground lamb and Feta cheese and gently combine with rice. (I recommend using your hands)
  4. Stuff the onions Pat the onion layers dry if need be. Add a generous heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture to the center of an onion layer. Roll the onion layer around the meat, and put it in the oiled casserole, seam side down. Continue with all of the meat. You should have 12-14 stuffed onions. Brush the tops of the rolls with some olive oil and sprinkle with some fresh ground pepper. Cover casserole with lid or with a double layer of foil. Bake in the lower third of a preheated oven for 1 hour. Briefly remove pot from oven. Turn oven up to “broil”. Remove foil from casserole. Baste onions with pan juices. Return to oven, uncovered, and cook onion rolls for an additional 5 minutes to brown them. Enjoy!


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