Aaloo Bukhara is a product obtained by dehydrating plums. It is a traditional product related to the food culture of the indigenous peoples of Ghazni Province. However, it is also produced in the provinces of Wardak and Herat, where plum trees are well adapted and give high yields.
Usually, this product is obtained from two local plum varieties called Aaloo Gorja -e-sia (black plums) and Aaloo Gorja-e- Zard (yellow plums).
This dried fruit is mainly used by local communities and is usually produced by the same farmers who grow the plums. Today, local communities use it as an ingredient in several traditional dishes. This product is traditionally dried in the sun, at a temperature between 38 and 45°C, immediately after the plum harvest season, which takes place between June and July.
In addition, some farmers, especially in the province of Ghazni, produce a delicious jam from these dried fruits, mainly for home consumption.
Today, some fruit processors use a modern method of burning sulphur to dry the fruit. This new method was introduced by some international organisations in Kabul and is extended to all provinces of the country. The impact of this method on the fruit is still being evaluated.
This product is rooted in the lifestyle of the people of the distant past. The use of this drying method allowed the locals to have prunes, as well as other fruits, throughout the year.
Today, the prune is considered one of the special souvenirs for families visiting the Ghazni province. The name Aaloo Bukhara is linked to the city of Bukhara, one of the most famous in Uzbekistan. It is believed that many years ago this product was only produced for export to the city of Bukhara.
The strong trade relations between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan have shaped Ghazni’s culinary practices. In this regard, the use of prunes as an ingredient in meat dishes in Ghazni (e.g. meatballs) seems to derive from these exchanges. In addition, some communities prepare a very sweet and sour jam made from prunes, sugar, cardamom or rosewater. It is usually mixed with yoghurt and eaten with fresh, warm bread.
Due to the influence of industrial producers of prunes, new generations prefer prunes with a bronze to brown colour, which are more fleshy than the dried products made from the Azloo-e- sia and Azloo Gorja-e- Zard varieties. They also prefer dried plums produced using the burnt sulphur method.
More attention should be paid to the preservation and promotion of traditional processing methods and local plum varieties used in the preparation of Aaloo Bukhara.