It is not a frequent occurrence that I explore my culinary interests through schoolwork. Yet, one recent group assignment that I had for a class gave me just that opportunity. Before I even applied to Boston College, my parents traveled to Boston together. While in Boston, they explored different parts of the city and tried a variety of foods while doing so. During their trip, they happened to stumble upon an Afghan restaurant in Brighton, MA called Ariana. Intrigued by the novelty of Afghan cuisine in their lives, my parents returned to Florida with rave reviews of the Afghan food they had tried. Once I matriculated to BC a while later, my parents often suggested that I eat at Ariana, like they had during their trip. Since my freshman year, I have said I would go, but I’ve never carved out time to do so. However, the thought of eating there one day has never escaped my memory. I am always open to trying dishes that I am unfamiliar with, so I’ve always intended on eating at Ariana some day.
During this Fall 2022 semester, I am taking a course in the Carroll School of Management at BC called Managing Diversity. The course has provided me with a breadth of knowledge concerning the multifaceted benefits of diversity and inclusion efforts in the workplace and beyond. Recently, we were assigned to have an “inclusive experience” with our group members from class. This assignment was meant to show us that being an inclusive person requires intentionality, and sometimes discomfort for the sake of learning and growing. When brainstorming what inclusive experience to have with my group, it dawned on me that trying another culture’s cuisine at a restaurant is inclusive, especially if it also involves getting to know staff members of said restaurant. My mind immediately went to Ariana, which my parents had told me about for years at that point. As a current senior, I figured it was time to give this restaurant a try! When my three fellow group members agreed to go to the restaurant for our inclusive experience, I was excited to taste the flavors so memorable to my mother and father.
When I entered the restaurant on a Wednesday evening with my classmates, I was astounded by its vibrant yellow walls, the intricate dress hung up on the wall, and the drums on display. Our waiter approached us right away, and although we felt out of place, we were still eager to try the food. First, they served us naan bread with three dipping sauces before we ordered our entrees. The naan was soft, yet slightly crispy at the same time. In comparison to the pita bread that I had tried before, the naan was thinner. A tangy yogurt sauce paired wonderfully with the bread, which pleased my palette and elevated my excitement for the entree. I ordered an entree of the name Kofta Challow. Specifically, the dish features beef meatballs with Afghan seasonings, which are then sautéed with green peas, sun dried tomatoes, and hot peppers in a tomato sauce. Two meatballs were served to me in a small bowl on a bed of sauce, alongside a full plate of challow rice, or rice seasoned with cumin seed and oil and baked. The rice and the sauced meatballs worked in perfect unison together. Sporting a rich and well-seasoned taste, the tomato sauce mixed with the cumin-flavored rice to create a delightful explosion of warmth and pronounced flavor in my taste buds. With their moist texture, the meatballs were soft and not overpowering, and the warm tomato sauce amazingly enhanced their flavor. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the combination of spice and warmth that the naan and my chosen dish evoked.
When we conversed with the owner of the restaurant, my respect for those working in the culinary business rose to an even higher degree. The owner indicated a sense of happiness in sharing Afghan cuisine with the general public, which was heartwarming to hear as an individual who had been curious to try Afghan food for a long time. I am so thankful that this educational opportunity turned into an experience in which I could savor Afghan cuisine and celebrate the inclusion of a culture quite distinct from my own. We made sure to let the owner know that we would recommend the restaurant to others, so that is exactly what I am going to do. If they have not already done so, readers should go and try Afghan cuisine at Ariana. Greeted by friendliness the second you step into the restaurant, the rest of the dining experience at Ariana includes memorable spice, comforting warmth, and visual satisfaction at the sight of the restaurant’s neat plating.
Cover photo courtesy of Ariana