Almost Afghan! Roasted Salmon With Dill and Cilantro

Landlocked Afghanistan may not have salmon on top of its national cuisine, but improvisation in recipes can give the fish a unique Afghan flavor.

Posted on 10/26/14
(Photo by Grace Banfield via
(Photo by Grace Banfield via

I am not a fan of seafood.  I can handle tilapia and some milder fish if seasoned properly, but despite all the goodness of salmon I usually abstain. We rarely had fish in land-locked Afghanistan and once we moved to the U.S. seafood was too expensive for a refugee family.  It is funny how our childhood experiences influence our choices as adults.


Food Lense1For special occasions in Afghanistan my family did buy fried fish from the kebabee (kebab maker).  We ate the fried fish with Afghan nan and salad at picnics.  Oddly, for dessert we had jilabee, a fried dessert believed to counterbalance the fish.  Jilabee is made by frying thick sugar and flour syrup slowly poured through a funnel into hot oil to form circular coils.


Nowadays I learn about seafood in the oddest places.  For instance, I practice Qigong with a group of elderly Chinese women near San Francisco’s China Town.  To pass time we talk about food, bargains at Walgreens and gardening. Their food talk revolves around seafood delicacies, and their disdain for lamb.  They’ve taught me quite a lot about how to catch crabs in the Bay without being fined, where to find the best fish and the health benefits of seafood.


So at a potluck I cautiously tried my friend Mitra Modarressi’s salmon dish. At first I was more attracted to the beautiful fresh dill that blanketed the salmon, but I quickly found that the salmon was deliciously seasoned with cumin, oregano just the right flavors for me.  The cumin subdued the salmon smell which keeps me away from salmon.


Mitra is not sure where the recipe originated but I decided if an Afghan were to invent a salmon dish they would be well served to use this recipe.  I made this dish for Jeja (my mom).  Not only did she like the dish but she gave me thumbs up to post it on the blog. Naturally I needed her endorsement before I could share this with all of you.


So, for you non-seafood lovers give this “almost Afghan” recipe a try.  You can serve the salmon hot or cold.  I suggest the Afghan potato and chickpea salad, shor nakhod, as a side dish.  The flavors go very well together.


Roasted Salmon with Dill and Cilantro

Almost Afghan


2 ½ lbs. boneless salmon

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground pepper

2 teaspoon salt

1 cup fresh dill

½ cup parsley chopped

Lemon slices


In a bowl mix olive oil, cumin, oregano, pepper and salt. Rub mixture on skinless side of salmon and marinade as early as the day before or at least for an hour.


Pre-heat oven, 450 degrees.


Line broiling pan with foil.  Bake salmon on foil with skinless side up in pre-heated oven for 10 minutes per inch of thickness at thickest part.  When done you may serve immediately or allow to cool. Serve at room temperature. Place the salmon on a serving dish long enough for the salmon, garnish with dill and cilantro and serve with slices of lemon.

Serves 6

* I have slightly modified Mitra’s recipe to my taste and for ease of cooking.


Humaira was born in Afghanistan and now lives in California. She reconnects to her roots by writing about Afghan culture and cooking the foods of her homeland. She passionately shares the wonders of her beleaguered country through its rich culture, delicious food and stories about her experiences in Afghanistan. Humaira consults on Afghan culture, speaks about Afghanistan and is a social activist. 

This recipe first appeared in Click here to go to the original. 

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