Not much in the way of true Pakistani in the GBA, so I looked forward with great anticipation to taking Darbar out for a test-drive today. The menu is a whats what of Sindhi-Punjabi fare, the kind of cooking I grew up with and now only mostly eat at home or at restaurants in major metro Pakistani communities (Toronto, Chicago, etc). A cast of kebabs - chapli, bihari, shami (aka Sham-Wow), karahi gosht, keema, korma, jalfrezi, kaleji, biryani, linguine, martini, bikini ! Kay. But also classic special occasion kind of dishes, like nehari, haleem, and paya, which at even the best of restaurants are not always on daily offer.
My car smelled like a hot tandoor the whole ride home, the smells of yeasty roasty toasty ghee-brushed bread had me blowing thru reds to get home in time. While it was quite tasty, it was slightly denser than my preference, lacking that light airy charred 'neapolitan' quality. The chapati, on the other hand, was excellent. Thin, wheaty, pliable and crispy in all the right places.
There is a place for oil in certain Pakistani dishes. Like bone marrow beef shank stew, aka nehari. This is as rich a dish as they come, and it still baffles me as to why my peoples eat it for brekkie, but god bless 'em they do. I understand you may not want that pool of oil in many of your dishes, but you want it here. Stir it right up, nice and thick. It is a very fine rendition, if a tad tamer than my mamas, but who's counting (other than me and ma). Nice big hunks of tender shin meat, garam-masala laced marrow gravy. It's what's for breakfast, apparently.
I had no plans for haleem, but a sample was brought out to me, and darnit if this isn't one of the better restaurant versions I've had around. Much more aggressively spiced (and requested as such), thick & meaty, and they must just have vats of rich bone gravy around because this was amped up with it no doubt.
Tis the day for zombies, so an order of brainz seemed like the obvious thing to do. What was amusing, on this particular day, was the chef informing they were fresh out of brains, but would be right back with another one. Now maybe I should be asking where they source their brains, but so far I'm (relatively) asymptomatic. And the brainz (maghaz masala) were delicious. Creamy, sweet, soft scrambled and spicy. Devoured with chapati.
Bones and brains, Happy Halloween !
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