Saturday, August 19, 2017

Eating up the Hill: Chicken Tandoori Kabob at Afghani Kabob Express

I was first introduced to the cuisine of Afghanistan during the last nomination cycle, as an Afghan restaurant in Scarborough became one of our regular post-canvass meal destinations. I enjoyed it and, since I moved to Ottawa, Afghani Kabob Express at Bank and Lisgar has been a regular dinner stop.

There is a lot of similarity between different Middle Eastern and even South Asian cuisines. Grilled meat, sometimes ground and formed, usually grilled as a kabob, with rice, salad and naan bread. Usually it's only the spice pallet that differs. With Afghan food, you also get a thicker, much breadier naan than other cuisines -- for example, the thin naan of most Indian restaurants or the pita of a Lebanese restaurant. I think I probably prefer the thinner naan, but the Afghan naan is a nice change once and awhile.

While I enjoy the chicken and beef shami kabobs -- ground meat spiced and formed into a kabob and grilled -- my go-to has become the Chicken Tandoori Kabob. For $13.99, you get a generous portion of grilled chicken breast chunks, marinated and cooked in a tandori spice. You can pay an upgrade to a fancier rice -- with shaved carrots and raisins -- but I prefer the regular rice. The salad is just OK -- lettuce, tomato, onions and dressing -- but I'll eat my vegetables to get to the delicious chicken.

It's excellent value and I always leave stuffed, sometimes with leftovers, and usually don't manage to finish all of the bready naan. And the meat is always cooked fresh when you order. And for those for whom it matters, all the meat is halal.

If I have one note, it's that I think they look at me and think I can't handle my spice. It never occurred to me until I attended an Iftar dinner (held by Muslims during Ramadan to celebrate breaking the day's fast) catered by Afghani Kabob Express, at which the Chicken Tandoori Kabob was much spicier than what I usually have. And deliciously so.

So next time, I'll have to ask them to give me the regular spice.

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