Lamb, beautifully seasoned and broiled over charcoal, is a smart order at Ariana, the best of the Afghan places in Hell’s Kitchen. Lamb tikka kebab (marinated chunks of thigh meat) is a standout–and even better with a squeeze of lemon, says Pan. You can order it with good Kabuli palow (rice with vegetables and nuts). Lamb also comes in chops or ground in kofta kebabs. Beef, chicken, fish, and shrimp round out the kebab lineup.
Off the broiler, hounds recommend pumpkin or eggplant curries, aushak (boiled leek dumplings), bolanee qandana (fried meat-and-leek turnovers), and kadoo bolanee (fried pumpkin turnovers with yogurt sauce), among other things.
Ariana also bakes good, crusty flatbread, sprinkled with nigella seeds, and serves it warm. Entrees come with a salad; order it without dressing (which the kitchen tends to apply with a heavy hand) and instead use the bright, fresh green hot sauce on the tables. For dessert, try firnee, a rice pudding with cardamom and crumbled pistachios and almonds.