I was introduced to Helmand, an Afghani restaurant in Cambridge, by my dad, who is the person who has introduced me to the majority of interesting foods in my life. My dad is a passionate foodie, and always has been. When I lived on the other side of the country, before there was email, he would clip reviews and send them to me, with arrows and notes written in. I would try to respond in kind, but he has always been the true gourmet sleuth in the family.
I feel quite sure I had no idea what Afghani food was about the first time I went there, and I feel equally sure that I did not expect to be as excited as he was about what I had been told was largely vegetarian fare. I like meat. There, I said it. I have never been really confident around any meal plan that excludes large portions of any one group, meat inclusive, and so I was not particularly confident when my father first convinced me to accompany him to this oddly located restaurant that had opened recently, especially not when he described the menu as "mostly vegetarian."
I was overjoyed by how wrong I was.
It was not the first thing to convince me that this was a cuisine to treasure, but it is pumpkin kaddo, or kaddo bowrani, that I go back for over and over: baked pumpkin. I top it simply, with fresh, local yogurt, and serve it as an appetizer. And then, the next day, I take the box of leftover pumpkin out of the fridge and eat it with my fingers. And that's what my dad would do too.