Mourgh – (Afghan Chicken)

One more recipe from my last post on “A taste of war”

Mourgh – (Afghan Chicken)

The key here is to slowly marinate the chicken in yogurt and garlic overnight. For four people Working Time: 90 minutes

  • 2 Cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ½ tea spoon of salt
  • 2 Cups of plain yogurt
  • Juice and pulp of 1 large lemon
  • ½ tea spoon of course, cracked black pepper
  • 4 individual chicken breasts, skinned and deboned

Serve with fresh warmed pita bread and fresh yogurt


  • In large ceramic blow combine the salt and garlic and mix well. Then add lemon and pepper.
  • Add the chicken and the yogurt and mix well. Make sure the whole chicken is covered.
  • Marinate in a sealed bowl overnight in the refrigerator
  • When ready to serve, remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.
  • Grill or broil the chicken for about 9-10 minutes
  • Serve with fresh yogurt and pita bread

Qabili Palao Recipe

Here is one of the recipes from my last post; “A taste of war”


Critical flavors in this cuisine are spices such as cardamom, cumin, and cinnamon which tend to add a sweet aroma to all dishes.  Afghan food is not “hot” or “spicy” but tends to create a deep flavor, resulting for many hours of marinating. Typical is the key classic Afghan dish Qabili Palao – made with either chicken or lamb or both – and enhanced with browned rice, spices, golden raisins and carrots.

Qabili Pilau

This dish – cooked with either lamb or chicken or both – and rice, raisins and carrots is a classic Afghan dish adapted here for use by the home cook. For four people. Working Time:90 minutes


  • 2 cups basmati rice – soaked in cold water for 20 minutes and then drained. This prevents the rice from sticking together.
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (such as olive oil)
  • 5 lbs lamb on the bone or 1.5 lbs of chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks 3 cups water
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and julienne (i.e. cut into thin sticks) cut into matchstick size pieces
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron diluted in a tiny bit of cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar


  • In a large sauce pan and on medium heat, sauté the onions in oil until translucent, then add the meat and brown it on all sides.
  • Add the spices (cumin, salt, cinnamon, and the saffron)
  • Add the water
  • Cover the sauce pan and over low heat boil the mixtures for about one hour; stir occasionally.
  • Then remove the meats and set aside.
  • Preserve the water in which the meal was browned
  • In a small sauce pan sauté the carrots and the raisins for about five minutes; drain and set the carrots and raisins aside.
    Bring the juices where the meats were to a boil and add the rice; cover and cook for about 20 minutes.
  • Mix the meats and rice together in a large oven-proof pan; bake for about 60 minutes at 350 F.
  • To serve, place the meat and rice mixture on a platter and place the raisins and carrots on the side.

A Taste of War

Cooking from Afghanistan A Simple Lesson in Freshness

Afghani restaurants have become a common sight in American cities since the 1980s as the invasion of the Soviet Union forced many Afghanis into refugee status.  The combat actions in Afghanistan since 2001 have created a strong desire among combat veterans to again taste the special foods of this mountainous region which has been marred by war for thousands of years, starting with Alexander the Great.

Veterans of combat in Afghanistan almost universally praise the local food and the most common recollection is freshness and good taste. Afghan cooking blends the spices and flavors of the Middle East, Iran, Iraq, India and Pakistan. Rice dishes spiced with raisins and carrots or tomatoes are just as much a staple as the traditional hot flat bread or pita bread.


Writes Captain Mark Reinhardt, USMC, who fought in Afghanistan: “I found the food in Afghanistan to be measurably better than that in Iraq for one reason:  it was fresh. Stationed in the far reaches of the country, in the “Tribal Administered Area”, we had no chow halls.  The upside of this was that we did not have to provide security escort to the sanity-testing Jordanian food convoys like we did in Iraq.” “The downside was that our chow logistics system involved a small herd of medium-sized, very stubborn, occasionally violent donkeys.


“I tried to eat one meal a day with the ANA (Afghan National Army) at their small camp very close to the Pakistani border, usually evening chow to go over the plan for the next day.  “There was a jury-rigged chow hall that had set out frozen pizzas, half-frozen lunch “meat –for some reason it was always salami – and the occasional hot tray-ration.  I liked it because it was something different and American but truth be told we ate better quality food with the Afghans.”

“At the ANA camp, we always tried to buy as much as possible from local farmers.  That meant the majority of our fruits and vegetables were fresh. We also hired a baker and a cook for the camp as well as a shepherd for the herd of goats.


“A major perk was the fresh bread.”  We dug a Dutch oven six feet underground and four feet wide at the opening, and enjoyed new bread every day.  After lighting the fires at around 05:30, the baker would mix roughly equal parts flour and water; add salt and sugar, then roll the dough into flat ovals about eight inches wide and 15 inches long.  He would then sprinkle water on the flat pieces, adhere them to a large pad attached to a stick about five feet long, lean into the oven and slap the dough up against the clay side of the oven.  After five minutes or less, he would reach into the oven with a two-pronged spear, skewer four or five pieces of bread and bring them up.

A quick breakfast was usually a piece of this hot, freshly baked flatbread torn into pieces and dipped in very thick cream (almost like clotted cream) with copious amounts of sugar sprinkled on top.  As the day progressed, the bread became noticeably staler but made an excellent eating utensil.  Lunch was generally a quick bite of leftovers or, if on patrol, part of an MRE.”

“At around 15:00 the cook would begin to prepare dinner. The staple meal was a stew of onion, tomato, potato, any other vegetable we happened to come by, and goat. The meat was cut into chunks that somehow managed to never come from a part of the animal that was identifiable.  This was put in a large cauldron with sliced onions, tomatoes and enough salted water to just cover it, then slow-cooked for three hours. Cut potatoes were added about 30 minutes before serving. This cooking method broke down the onions and tomatoes into a thick stew with very tender pieces of goat meat, given body by the potatoes.  This stew was served over a large bowl of rice and beans.  Everyone sat Indian style around the bowl with a piece of flatbread as a sort of trencher.  We would dig in with our hands (always the right hand) and bread.  It got a little dicey when, to be polite, one of the officers would “cut” pieces of meat with his hand and put it in front of me.  Afghan food is surprisingly un-spicy (though not bland) and I was surprised that the MRE Tabasco sauce never found a place in it.

A variation of the stew was a soup, made by adding more water and removing the tomatoes from the mix.  For a “formal” dinner, such as one to which we had invited some of the local village elders, we would augment the stew with pieces of meat by themselves, roasted chicken, slices of raw tomato with salt, and watermelon with salt for dessert.  Afghan watermelons are smaller and rounder than ours, more the size of a honeydew melon. Throughout every meal we drank huge amounts of chai (tea) which is essentially a cup of sugar with a splash of tea added.”

“From time to time we would spend a week or so on one of the platoon sized observation posts.  The OP troops were issued MREs and had hot chow delivered by donkey once a day.  Sometimes we would bring a goat with us, slaughter it, and hang it on a tree to feed us for the week.  We covered the carcass with a tarp to keep the flies off.  It brought a welcome change from the stew as we would make kabobs and roasts seasoned with spices that I unfortunately did not get to identify.”

Critical flavors in this cuisine are spices such as cardamom, cumin, and cinnamon which tend to add a sweet aroma to all dishes.  Afghan food is not “hot” or “spicy” but tends to create a deep flavor, resulting for many hours of marinating.  Typical is the key classic Afghan dish Qabili Palao – made with either chicken or lamb or both – and enhanced with browned rice, spices, golden raisins and carrots. Another very common dish are variations of Kebabs and Aushak –  dumplings typically served over garlicky yogurt sauce and layered with a thick ground-beef, tomato sauce with dried mint and crushed red pepper sprinkled on top.   Endless variations of this dish can be created

(see these web sites for recipes: and

?Dealing with China now

tibet“Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam,” – in English: “Furthermore, I consider that Carthage must be destroyed” reportedly was the concluding line of every speech given in the Roman Senate by Cato the Elder (234-139 B.C.).  Carthage was Rome’s primary enemy and was defeated.  It is this writer’s hope that U.S. Senators and Representative adopt such a line to conclude their speeches.    Even if it is a speech about price support for milk.

The goal now is to see the destruction of China’s regime.

These United States are at war with China.  It is not a war with actual physical weapons:  it is a war of cyber espionage and destruction, of vicious trade actions by the Chinese.  The United States is letting all this happening ignoring massive human rights violations, mass executions, ethnic cleansing and worse. Never forget that this nation was founded to preserve basic freedoms against the rather mild yoke of His Britannic Majesty King George III.

What is the problem with China?  Not only are they stealing our very valuable industrial and intellectual secrets; not only are they attempting to force media, movie producers and politicians to mute any possible criticism of China’s Regime; they are also plotting to defeat the United States on all fronts.

China is in big trouble.  That country’s economy is failing and while there are no reliable data on just how bad it is:  the aggressive capital flight by Chinese insiders is telling.

China has corrupted U.S. companies large and small with the promise of quick profit.  In exchange, the Chinese demand access to industrial secrets and muted comments on the evilness of that regime.

How do we fight back?  I have no problem with the Chinese.  My justified rancor is limited to a cruel regime and companies that enable that regime.

How can we hurt the regime in China so it falls?  China is internally fractured and susceptible to civil unrest.  China faces what Karl Marx defined as pre-revolutionary conditions.   Thus we must increase funding for movements that fight for their very survival inside the troubled Middle Kingdom.  This means support for the Tibetans, Mongols, and Uighurs – just to name a few.  We must help return to the period of the “Warring States Period.”

We also must cut-off access to technology and money.  Companies such as WalMart are major importers of “low cost” Chinese goods.  It is believed that WalMart alone is responsible for about 25 percent of all import from China.  There are plenty of other places where Chinese goods can be replaced and sourced.

Fashion houses in New York should protect themselves: they should stop using Chinese suppliers and go elsewhere.  It may cost a bit more for each garment but ultimately fashion companies will save money – Chinese firms will not have access to designs which rapidly enter the market well before major firms such as Dior, Prada or Chanel can start selling their own products.

Businesses – large and small – should curtail dealings with China.  All they are doing is being complicit in mass murder, human rights violations and strengthening an avowed enemy of the United States. Do executives of these companies want to see their daughters and sons killed in a shooting war with China?

When President Richard Nixon opened diplomatic and business relations with China the one argument was that working with U.S. firms would help reform a cruel regime.  This did not happen.

How do the Chine pressure U.S. firms?  It is basic bribery.  Here is one example:

This is Chase.  Here is one other example.  Washington Square Analytics, Inc… (WSA) – a small consulting firm in New York City an operated in part by at least on felon who was convicted for financial fraud, has been working with Hony Capital, a Chinese private equity firm, owned by Legend Holdings. Legend Holdings provided Hony, a pioneer in China’s private equity industry, with its start-up capital. Hony has about US$7 billion under management. According to Hony, its core strategy is to invest in large state-owned enterprises and restructure them to increase profits. Hony also invests in overseas consumer brands in order to create value by expanding their presence in China.

So Chase and WSA along with many others is complicit is enabling more human rights violations by the Chinese.

We have a small window to hurt China’s dictators and get them to fall.   And what can we – The Repton Group LLC – do to help U.S. firms in their combat with China?  And what about the over $1.2 trillion in on Treasury Bonds held by China?

Here is an action plan:

  • Let us all make public who cooperates with the Chinese to the detriment of U.S. national security
  • Encourage curtailing trade with China – we have many other attractive options such as India, Vietnam, Indonesia, or The Philippines among many.
  • Offer ideas for a boycott of Chinese goods not limited to the many tainted food products
  • Report hacking attempts by the Chinese to the Federal Bureau of Investigations
  • Push our politicians to fight for U.S. values:  the U.S. went to war for our very freedoms against Germany and Japan.  Did we forget?
  • As for the debt – let us follow the example of President Frank D. Roosevelt – and by executive order say this debt is null and void and a repayment for the economic damage done by China
  • Foster – we can help – relations with the Chinese opposition now. This will lead to major business in the fruitier after the regime falls.

To adapt Cato the Elder:  furthermore the Chinese Regime must be destroyed.

Agostino von Hassell

The Repton Group LLC

How Should Business deal With Turkey Now?

I happen to hear from friends from Turkey often these days that the country is not “soup du jour”. It is not “business as usual” anymore.

How should U.S.A. companies and others (from Europe or Asia) deal with Turkey now? Investments there – in our view – are unsafe and that once proud nation will become increasingly unstable.

We strongly advocate that current investors in Turkey consider how to limit their exposure and avoid new investments. The sense is that Turkey is set to devolve into chaos in a prolonged crackdown of established democratic processes labeled as “terrorist-linked” from the existing government. I cannot imagine businesses from civilized nations wanting to support a regime that is adverse to human rights of any kind.

The badly planned coup failed, I regret it. The distant shout, “I would free the state from a tyrant!”, was left unheard and silent in the night.

Friedrich von Schiller in 1797 in his famous poem (hated by the Nazis) wrote:

To Dionysius, the tyrant, would sneak

Damon, concealing a dagger;

He’s slapped by the guards in a fetter.

“What would you do with that dagger, speak!”

Demands the despot, his visage bleak.

“I would free the state from a tyrant!”

“For that, on the cross be repentant.”


Now Erdo?an wants to reinstate the death penalty. On July 26, 2016 in an interview Erdo?an pledged to follow up on his promise to reintroduce capital punishment if such a request is submitted by the country’s parliament, saying the government could not ignore the will of the people.  He was quoted:

What do the [Turkish] people say today? They want the death penalty reintroduced. And we as the government must listen to what the people say. We can’t say ‘no, that doesn’t interest us…I am not a king. I am only a country’s president. To be a stronger president does not mean to act in breach of constitution. Only in Europe is there no death penalty. Otherwise, it is almost everywhere.”

The death penalty was abolished by Turkey in 2004 in order to facilitate its acceptance as a European Union member. Since the failed coup well over 13,000 people, largely soldiers, have been detained in the massive purge. The fair trial and fate of these people is more than questionable and this is an issue, which worries me.

Resisting dictators is important. Turkey’s current president Recep Tayyip Erdo?an is one of the most vicious dictators to emerge in past years and he proudly takes the place in a select group of others such as Putin and the leader of China who do not hesitate to violate human rights on a daily basis. Thus the May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey was a joke. It is as if the Nazis had celebrated human rights in a concentration camp.

Turkey has a long history of brutality and repression.  The country has a sad history of persecuting ethnic minorities.

The vicious occupation of Northern Cyprus continues.

Turkey’s argument that it faces terrorism is dangerous: none of the ancient battles against the Kurds (and Armenians) justifies massive repression of human rights, jailing of any and all opponents as well as the continued denial and defense of the Genocide of the Armenians. The major military incursions into Kurdish territory in past weeks were thinly camouflaged efforts at wiping out the Kurds.

The Kurdish people are repressed.  This has been going on for centuries and the brutal persecution of the Kurds is an activity shared by Iraq and Iran. Will they be subject of ethnic cleansing by Turkey’s president? Note that between 1925 and 1939 possibly over 1.5 million Kurds were deported or murdered. Will Erdo?an, the President, force a new ban on speaking Kurdish – akin to the 1924 mandate? In 1930 Turkey’s Minster of Justice reportedly stated:

I won’t hide my feelings. The Turk is the only lord, the only master of this country. Those who are not of pure Turkish origin will have only one right in Turkey: the right to be servants and slaves.

Turan Gunes, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, at a session of the Council of Europe, reportedly said as he responded to the issue of Kurdish independence: “Let me tell you, with the tolerance of just a few countries like West Germany, France and England, we will have no problem liquidating millions of Kurds.”

Note that terrorism can be battled respecting human rights.  Note also that when I met many suffering Kurds in April 1991 during Operation Provide Comfort and Provide Comfort II I realized that Turkey’s approach to the Kurds was just as evil as was the case with Iraq.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established a secular Turkey and in many ways Turkey’s military as well as the TNP have been the protectors of the values established by Atatürk. Turkey’s current president has tried to emasculate the military with the most questionable arrest of senior generals and admirals – instilling a climate of fear in military (Operation Cage Action Plan).

Dictators rarely have a good end to their life. While I am certainly not advocating violence one must hope that brave officers of Turkey’s military and police possibly act again to rescue human right and the values of Atatürk. Turkey has a long history of coups (1960, 1971, 1980, and possibly 1993) and incidents such as the 1997 “military memorandum” or “Operation Sledgehammer” in 2003.

Investments in Turkey are questionable at best. Russia’s Gazprom – probably instructed so by the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin – on September 2, 2016 pledged a $1 billion investment in Turkey. Gazprom, which serves as a political instrument for negotiations with Europe, has today lost $300 billion market capitalization from its 2008 heyday valuation and the company is a financial shadow to what it was. And now Turkey invites Apple to invest in Turley following the ruling on taxes by Brussels.

Some U.S. firms with a modicum of historical memory know how IBM and Ford as General Motor’s Adam Opel unit supported the Nazis and provided some key tools for the murder of millions. It is a lesson, I hope, that has been remembered and learned.

Investing in Turkey now is but a support of a vicious regime. Europe is terrified of offending Turkey – the latter in order to apply pressure has reopened the doors for refugees to flood Europe. Over 300,000 came from Turkey since the failed coup. And this can be a powerful tool to negotiate with the others.

What now?

Businesses have many other options. Investments in countries such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania or Israel are probably more attractive and certainly safer and do not carry the odor of complicity with murderers. All these countries are empowered by young, educated and talented people, which is a treasure for any investment.

This company can provide advisory here as well as guide companies on a most treacherous complicated path. A consumer boycott of Turkish goods would also be useful.

Numerous U.S. companies are shying away from Turkey. Note this report:

The same cannot be said of investors from the West, particularly, if ironically, Silicon Valley, where “saving the world” has become a catchphrase. Many have pulled out of upcoming conferences and events to take place in Istanbul this fall.

“We’ve had nearly everyone from Silicon Valley cancel their plans to come to Startup Istanbul this October,” says Burak Büyükdemir, founder of the Istanbul based startup accelerator eTohum. eTohum hosts Startup Istanbul, a global demo day and conference that draws entrepreneurs and investors from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, every October.

Others from Europe and the U.S., Turkish venture capital investor Numan Numan says, are using Turkey’s many crises to “short change” Turkish startups, presenting term sheets and acquisition offers at reduced valuations. Numan is a partner at the Istanbul based firm 212.

Agostino von Hassell

The Repton group LLC