Shish Kebab House
of Afghanistan enchants diners well before they take a seat
at one of its cozy tables.
By DANIELA ALTIMARI, Staff Writer
The air is redolent with spices; the walls are painted soft,
mustard yellow; and beautiful rugs are everywhere - even
under glass on the tops of tables.
Yet the food, while exotic, is familiar. Rice, dumplings,
beef, chicken and lamb form the foundation of the
restaurant's menu. We started with an appetizer order of
samosas ($3.95). These crisp triangles stuffed with potatoes
and peas are a staple at Indian restaurants. But the version
served here is fresher and less greasy than any others we've
Even better was the pakawra ($3.95), slices of potatoes
dipped in batter and fried until crunchy. Not diet food, but
well worth the caloric splurge. More healthful appetizer
offerings include salads ($4.95 each) offered with either a
tangy lemon or yogurt dressing, and a hearty noodle soup
($3.95). A note on the menu explains that the restaurant
eschews butter and heavy cream, relying instead on
vegetable, corn and olive oils.
Shish Kebab House offers a tasting menu that features a
variety of appetizers, shish chookebabs and other dishes. A
bargain at $27.95, it's a good way to sample the cuisine.
(The menu says this traditional Afghan feast is what you
might expect if you are invited into an Afghan home.)
However, the meals are for a minimum of four people, so our
party of three had to go it alone. One of us chose the beef
kebab ($17.95), which featured tender chunks of meat in a
flavorful but not-too-spicy marinade. Another chose mantoo
($14.95), toothsome little pasta pockets filled with spiced
meat and onions and topped with split peas and yogurt. The
third selected the vegetarian version of ashak ($14.95),
boiled dumplings topped with sliced scallions, spinach,
yellow peas and yogurt.
All were incredibly tasty, though everyone in our party
agreed that the best thing on each of our plates was the
side dish of pumpkin puree. Sweet and tangy, it was unlike
anything we'd ever tasted. Now that we have, we find
ourselves craving it constantly. The other sides were also
quite good, especially the eggplant and kabeli palow. Only
the undercooked potatoes disappointed.
Don't skip the desserts, which are a bargain at $3.95 each.
The standout is something called fernee, a traditional
pudding made with milk, cardamom and pistachios. This is a
dessert worth splurging on.
Popular dishes: Shish kebabs (ranging from $13.95 for
chicken breast to $22.95 for chicken, lamb and beef
combination); mantoo (steamed dumplings filled with spiced
meat and topped with yellow split peas and homemade yogurt
sauce, $14.95); ashak (boiled dumplings filled with
scallions and spinach, topped with beef and yellow peas,
although it can be made vegetarian, $14.95); and Kabeli
palow (rice seasoned with almonds, raisins and carrots and
served with lamb, chicken or vegetables, $16.95).