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Afghan Serai - London - great Afghan Food: who knew??

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Afghan Serai - London - great Afghan Food: who knew??

Magnolia | Apr 3, 2001 05:56 AM

This was really out of the blue - friend & I struggled to find a mutually convenient place to meet for Sunday night dinner, and caravan serai - right near Baker Street tube, parallel to Marylebone Road, was 'it'.

I've never had Afghan food and the drinks menu, which featured rather 'revolutionary' options like a Taliban(!) put me on alert...

BUT I was very pleasantly surprised.

We tried Jawili, fried corn fritters with a (very) hot coriander sauce; Mantu - like ravioli filled with lamb, in a pink tomato sauce; Boulanee, a flat pastry sandwich filled with leeks (think Chinese scallion pancake); and prawn fritters, the name of which escapes.

Also had very rice with orange peels - I think it was called nerenje - which was a refreshing change from pilau; and nan, which was as far as I could tell, the same as in an Indian restaurant.

It's hard to describe Afghan food. I can't make a straightforward comparison with Indian though there are some similiarities - obviously the food language (murgh, gosht, dal) is similiar. But there was nary a curry in sight.

The owner spoke with all (four tables worth) of guests and asked what they thought of the food, and said he believes it's the only Central Asian restaurant in England. Portions are smallish but not stingy, and thus encourage trying a bunch of things.

The only thing I found a bit depressing was in fact the lack of a crowd, and the decor, which needs serious updating. But the food was really good, the prices extremely reasonable (you could get away for £20 for two). Marylebone/Baker Street area is also, IMHO, a culinary wasteland that has been taken over by coffee bars and faux-Med places with names like Bene Bene (not really fair of me since it isn't open yet, but I see the writing on the window); American fast food and the odd Conran.

For something completely different, go.

50 Paddington Street
7935 1208

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