Helmand Restaurant is named after Afghanistan’s longest and most culturally significant river, which is apt because it is an epicenter of Afghani nourishment for East Cambridge’s locals. Amidst a row of old brick warehouses, Helmand stands out as a warm haven for those seeking hearty, Middle Eastern meals, with its giant, crackling fireplace and a glowing, wood-burning flatbread oven. Intricate Afghan rugs line the floors, and traditional Afghan musical instruments fill the walls, steeping you in Afghan traditions as you dig in. The menu is similarly comforting, with rib-sticking picks like the Chowpan, a grilled half-rack of lamb that’s marinated, grilled, and served on pillowy bread with sautéed eggplant and pallow rice, and the Kaddo, made with pan-fried-then-baked pumpkin and eggplant, and served with decadent garlic yogurt sauce and challow rice. Bring a group to Helmand so that you can nibble on as many dishes as you’d like, but save room for dessert; the Our Cake is homemade with a fluffy cardamom and pineapple base, and then served with ice cream, fresh pineapple, dates, figs, and ladled with pomegranate sauce for a finishing touch.