Countries with the Most Similar Food to Afghanistan

Country Food Similarity Index - Map of Countries with Similar Food to Afghanistan

The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied. 

The Most Similar Cuisines to Afghan Food

Afghanistan has a diverse culinary heritage that reflects its geographical location at the crossroads of the Middle East and Central Asia. The five countries with the most similar food to Afghanistan are also predominately Muslim. Furthermore, these nations all have dry climates as well. With the exception of Iraq, they are also quite mountainous.

  1. Turkmenistan is located just to the north of Afghanistan. Lamb and beef are staple meats in both countries. They are often cooked with fragrant spices like cumin and coriander. Pilaf, a rice dish, is a popular delicacy in both countries, prepared with meat, vegetables, and aromatic spices. In addition, both cuisines feature a variety of flatbreads that accompany meals.
  2. Azerbaijan is another country that borders the Caspian Sea on this list. Azeri cuisine features an abundance of aromatic herbs, vegetables, and grilled meats, just like Afghan cuisine. Rice dishes like plov and qabili pilaf are widely enjoyed in both countries, often accompanied by juicy kebabs. Yogurt-based sauces, such as mast-o-khiar, are also popular in both culinary traditions.
  3. Tajikistan and Afghanistan border each other. Many of their people speak a variety of Persian as well. Their food is also similar. Grilled lamb and beef feature prominently in both cuisines, seasoned with aromatic spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and cardamom. Furthermore, watermelon is a popular and refreshing fruit enjoyed in both countries, particularly during the summer months when it is in season.
  4. Iran is another country that borders Afghanistan. Most of the people in these countries speak a variety of Persian too. Both countries share a love for biryani and pilaf, often adorned with saffron and dried fruits. Kebabs, both meat and vegetable-based, are cherished in their culinary traditions. Furthermore, flavorful stews like qorma and khoresht are prevalent in Iranian and Afghan cuisines.
  5. Iraq‘s cuisine includes a variety of rice dishes, such as timman bagilla and biryani, prepared with fragrant spices and sometimes mixed with meat and vegetables. However, chicken is the most widely consumed meat in Iraq, unlike in Afghanistan. Additionally, Iraqi and Afghan cuisines incorporate similar bread varieties like naan and samoon. Both countries eat a lot of watermelons and grapes, but Iraqis tend to eat more dates.

Related: The 10 Most Similar Countries to Afghanistan

The Least Similar Cuisines to Afghan Food

The countries with the least similar food to Afghanistan are all located in tropical regions, so their climates are much hotter and wetter. These factors make the crops typically grown in these countries far different from Central Asia. Their diets rely far less on the consumption of wheat, meat, and potatoes. Four of the five countries are located in Africa.

  1. Democratic Republic of Congo is a former Belgian colony located in the middle of Africa. Cassava is the dominant staple food in the country. The most commonly eaten meat in Congo is freshwater fish, whereas beef and lamb are more popular proteins in Afghanistan. Bananas are also more commonly eaten in Congo than Afghanistan.
  2. Central African Republic is a landlocked African country that is to the north of Congo. Cassava and yams are two of the most commonly eaten ingredients in the country, unlike in Afghanistan where wheat and potatoes are more prominent. Furthermore, taro and bananas make a much greater share of the diet in Central African Republic.
  3. Cambodia, like Afghanistan, is located in Asia. However, its cuisine is far different. The Cambodian diet is heavily based in rice and cassava, while relatively little wheat and potatoes are consumed there. Another difference is that freshwater fish are more commonly eaten in Cambodia.
  4. Burundi is yet another French-speaking African country on this list. The typical diet of the country consists of staple foods like cassava and sweet potatoes. Burundian cuisine emphasizes simplicity and freshness, with many dishes incorporating lightly cooked or raw ingredients to preserve their natural flavors, unlike in Afghan cuisine.
  5. Ghana features a diverse range of ingredients, such as plantains, cassava, yams, and a variety of vegetables, often prepared in stews or soups. The cuisine relies heavily on seafood and poultry. In contrast, Afghan cuisine showcases a fusion of Persian, Central Asian, and Indian influences.

Related: The 10 Least Similar Countries to Afghanistan

Full Food Similarity Ranking of Countries and Territories

Afghanistan’s Most Common Food Ingredients

Protein: Lamb, Beef
Fruit: Watermelon, Cantaloupe
Vegetable: Onion, Eggplant
Starch: Wheat, Potato

Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.

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