At the heart of Kabul’s historic center is the bustling Kafaloshi Bird Market. Neon green parrots, bright yellow canaries, and blue budanas (lark-like birds) flap their wings in bell-shaped wicker cages are surrounded by brown mud buildings for a color explosion on the market.

Beyond the cages and crowds is Kabul’s oldest restaurant, which has been serving chainaki, the local lamb stew, for 70 years. This is a shop that offers handmade chainaki using the old-fashioned method (a clay teapot). The ingredients are important, but it is the clay teapot that makes chainaki authentic. According to the restaurant’s current owner, Wahidullah, the characteristic flavor and aroma of his thick lamb stew come from an earthen teapot. In addition to food, you can request tea, which is prepared in a separate container. Food historian Helen Saberi emphasizes the importance of chainaki serving tea and simple traditional dishes. “They are found all over the country where weary travelers can obtain refreshments after long and dusty journeys. They are also the meeting place for the locals (men) to meet and exchange news and gossip.”

After the Taliban took over on August 15, 2021, the restaurant remained committed to serving its loyal customers by continuing to serve delicious chainaki.  “Years of war not only killed people but also these traditional recipes,” said Wahidullah. “I want chainaki to become Afghanistan’s ultimate comfort food.”