143 First Street
What I ate:
The occasion: Graduation of a family member
Helmand is one of my all time favorite restaurants in Cambridge. In fact, my husband once drove from New York to Boston for dinner when my mom said she made reservations at Helmand! My stepbrother had graduated so he gathered the family to eat, drink and have fun before he moved out of state. It was a wonderful occasion that deserved the compliment of a fantastic family meal. Helmand serves Afghani food that is packed with flavor, texture, warm, cold, savory and sweet spice. When you enter the restaurant the main dining area is an open bright space with great Afghan rugs and a large open wood-burning oven on one side. Out of that oven comes perfectly cooked flatbread.
The meal from start to finish was nothing but perfect. Aushak which is an, Afghan ravioli filled with leeks and scallions is served on yogurt-mint topped with ground beef sauce was a delicate balance of flavors. Bowiawni is pastry shells that have been baked in their brick oven a brick oven, one filled with leeks and scallions the other filled with spiced potatoes both were then garnished with yogurt and mint. This appetizer was similar to the Aushak, yet different because of the pastry shells as well as the spiced potatoes. I chose the salata with the pomegranate dressing, which was light and nicely complimented the other flavors in the Aushak and Bowiawni. The Chowpan was fantastic! The dish is a half rack of lamb served with sautéed eggplant and pallow rice, which has been seasoned and then baked.
It was a wonderful dinner and a wonderful occasion. I would ride my bike from NY to Boston for another meal at Helmand. The food is truly great.