- Melissa Pasanen
- Awran Hashimi and Wardak Karimi
Updated June 27.
Brothers Awran and Wazirgul Hashimi opened Bamyan Kebab House last Thursday at 65 Winooski Falls Way in the space vacated by Shafer's Market & Deli. The Hashimis believe that their new business, which is named after their native province and its capital city in Afghanistan, is the first Afghan restaurant in Vermont.
The name of the region and the restaurant also means "shining light," Awran said.
Bamyan Kebab House will be open every day but Monday for lunch and dinner, serving a wide range of dishes such as seasoned, grilled meats over spiced rice; steamed, filled dumplings called mantu; and a flaky, fried pastry stuffed with scallions and greens called bolani.
"Mantu is one of the most famous of Afghan dishes," Awran said. "It is the first thing people cook if you are a guest."
All meats are halal, and no alcohol is served. The Hashimis have ordered special ovens in which to cook kebabs.
Awran, 29, lives in Winooski. He came to Poultney from Afghanistan in 2011 on a U.S. government-sponsored student exchange program and stayed to attend the now-closed Green Mountain College. He then earn a master's degree in human resources and strategic management from the University of Denver. While studying in Vermont, he arranged for his younger brother to join him in the U.S. on a student visa.
"I didn't have any idea to open a restaurant," Awran said, "but since Vermont accepted so many Afghan refugees, we decided to open this space as a social space for them to get connected, to feel closer to home, as well as to introduce Afghan culture to Vermonters."
- Melissa Pasanen
- Bamyan Kebab House in Winooski
Najia Anwari, Wazirgurl's wife, will lead the kitchen with the help of assistant chef Wardak Karimi. The originally announced chef has decided to take a different job.
Anwari "has been cooking delicious Afghan food for [a] very long time and her favorite dish is mantu," Awran said. She will also help with management of the restaurant.
Karimi was a soldier in the U.S.-trained military. He is among the Afghan refugees newly resettled in the U.S. after the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover of the country.
Awran recalled how different and foreign Vermont felt when he first arrived from Afghanistan. Eleven years later, he said he is excited to welcome more fellow Afghans and hopes that his family's restaurant will help the newcomers settle in.
"It's really hard to leave home," Awran said. "It doesn't matter how undeveloped it is, how hard it is [to live there]. It's still home."