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Buzkashi Afghani - Cambridge

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Buzkashi Afghani - Cambridge

beetlebug | Apr 13, 2004 12:16 PM

This is the new Afghani place that opened in Cambridge. North of Porter Square, at the intersection of Mass Ave and Walden. Across the street from Elephant Walk and KFC.

Spouse and I ate here this past opening weekend. Bottom line - they have bugs to work out, but the kebabs are fabulous.

To start:

2 plain lassis - delicious

Kaddo (pumpkin with yogurt sauce) - this was ok. Some of the pumpkin slices were undercooked and somewhat hard. The natural sweetness did not come out.

Aukshak (ravioli with yogurt and meat sauce) - Again, just ok. Tasted heavily like leek. Kind of like a chinese dumpling with yogurt sauce.

Main dishes -

Meatballs - Two big meatballs with tomato sauce and white basmati rice. These were delicious. The sauce was tangy and the rice was perfectly cooked.

Lamb chops - 3 small pieces of lamb chops. These were grilled in the center of the restaurant. Served with a brown basmati rice. These chops were amazing. Tender, juicy, flavorful. Finger licking good. It's also kind of fun to watch the guy grill in the restaurant.

Side of spinich - just ok. typical overcooked afghan spinich.

Dessert

Rice pudding - cold and flavorless
Baklava - warmed up and a little too sweet for me. I know, it's supposed to be sweet. That's why I'm not a huge baklava fan.

We got there early on Saturday night (5:30 pm) and we weren't the only ones there. By 6:30, the place was packed and a line had formed. There were 2 wait staff and 1 hostess. All inexperienced. Menus and ordering were all over the place. The staff were all incredibly sweet and hardworking. We were enjoying ourselves, just watching the crowd and not overly concerned about waiting for the food. The food did come out sporadically and I noticed that some tables did not receive all their main courses. Often, one person would receive it but not the other. The second dish would come out well after the first. Since we were sharing, it didn't really matter. Overall, it was worth the wait.

The strong points are the main courses. The apps and dessert didn't impress me. They were all on the cold side, which is the traditional way of serving the food. I think it would be worth exploring the grilled portion of the menu. During the entire time we were there, they only grilled two items (one of which was our dish). Most people ordered the signature dish of Afghanistan, a lamb dish with the brown rice, sprinkled with raisons and carrots. (2 strikes against that dish, in my book.). That lamb dish didn't require the kebab grill. There are two kinds of rice, challow and pallow (I think). One white and one brown. The difference is in the preparation. It was explained in the menu but I don't remember what it said. Both rices were perfectly cooked and had the right texture to squish it together in your hands so that it could be a finger food. (Again, traditional Afghan way of eating the rice). Next time I go, I will only order grilled items with the rice.

The place is worth checking out but I hope the service smooths out a lot.

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