Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review | Afghan Pamir Restaurant

After searching for somewhere completely different to venture for a family dinner, my sister and I were happy to agree on Afghan Pamir Restaurant! The restaurant has recently moved to a new location in Dandenong, and going by reviews alone, has been very popular and successful, serving up delicious food.

Our other sister is actually currently living in Kabul, and while at the restaurant I felt just that little bit closer to her, and I wondered whether she had eaten any of the foods we were about to try.

The d├ęcor of the restaurant once inside is very regal, all the furniture was solid wood, with gorgeous detail. I couldn’t help but to wonder how many people were living in these almost majestic circumstances in Afghanistan these days, which brought down my mood a little, but not a minute later I was smiling, thanks to the lovely staff and service at the restaurant. It was clear to see that the owners were proud to showcase their culture, and were very polite and hospitable, answering any questions we had about the menu in great detail.


Since we had quite a large group dining, we decided to opt for the $35 Banquet option which included salad, naan bread with dips, Mantu dumplings, Afghani traditional rice, lamb Kofta curry, Kabab skewers, and a vegetarian dish of our choice. We decided on the green Okra dish.

The naan bread with the dips was so delicious, I tried to stop myself from eating too much so I would still have enough room for the rest of the feast, but in the end, the bread won. The dips were yoghurt based – one was very similar to Raita, with cucumber and mint, and the other had carrot shavings through it (I think). The bread was great throughout the evening to clean up our plates in between dishes so nothing went to waste!

The Mantu dumplings are traditional steamed dumplings, made from mince and onions, wrapped up in a silky pastry and served with yoghurt and a kind of really mild, tomato based sauce. These were so good, I wish we had ordered another serve! The pastry was such a lovely consistency, and the flavour from the dumpling was great. Again, the toasted naan bread was such a help to mop up all of that yoghurt tomato goodness!

Mantu dumplings

Next up the rice was brought out along with the Kofta curry and Okra dish. The traditional Afghan rice is served with barberries and bright strands of carrot. The perfectly cooked pillow of rice was so impressive. Each grain of rice was loose, none of them were sticking together, and it all had been coated in amazing flavour. The grains themselves were long and thin, similar to a Basmati grain.  The barberries, which I had never even heard of before, were so small, but had quite a kick to them! The sour berry flavour combined with the soft rice was great. The rice was the perfect accompaniment to the rest of our main dishes during our evening. They even brought out another whole (massive) serve for us!

Traditional Afghan Rice

The Kofta were made from lamb mince, and served with another delicious mild tomato based sauce, along with some peas. These were nice, but the centre of the Kofta was a little dry for me – this turned out not to be a problem –the yoghurt and cucumber dip came in very handy . I did really enjoy the mild sauces. I really enjoy tasting a different culture’s version of a similar mix of ingredients – everyone has their own version of a tomato based sauce don’t they!

Kofta

The Okra was also served in a tomato based sauce with some onion and garlic, but this one was actually quite spicy! Okra, (or Lady’s fingers) are a vegetable that are quite unique. My mum actually cooks Okra semi often, and in a way that is pretty similar to the way that this dish was served, the only difference being the level of spiciness.  If you have never tried Okra - give it a go!

Green Okra

Just when we were just realising just how full we were getting, a plate of sizzling skewers were brought out and suddenly, any feeling of being full or close to it disappeared! There was a chicken skewer and a lamb backstrip skewer for everybody. After quickly sharing them all out I quickly went about eating these delicious chunks of meat. They had so much flavour and were so oily (a good kind of oily.. the kind that makes you salivate), and, the meat was UNBELIEVABLY tender. Cooked to perrrrrfection. I would go back to Afghan Pamir Restaurant just to have these skewers again. Although, while I was there I would probably have a whole other banquet too.

Chicken & Lamb Backstrip Skewers

Now at this point, I think we all got a second (or third) wind and we all decided to order dessert! There isn't too much choice of dessert at Afghan Pamir Restaurant - but this is not a bad thing. I would imagine that the  majority of people would be too full for dessert anyway! The dessert on offer is Gulab Jaman, a delicious sweet that I think may be of Indian origin, since know of it from Mauritius. Usually there is some kind of cardamom flavoured element (which I am not crazy about), but the Afghan version was super simple and super sweet. Gulab Jaman is a ball of dough, that has been fried, and then soaked in a sugar syrup overnight. The result is a sweet, moist, little ball of goodness, and served with a refreshing scoop of icecream - a perfect end to a great evening. Apologies for the blurry photo of dessert - I was just super keen to eat it!

Gulab Jaman with Icecream


I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who has not yet tried Afghan cuisine, and I am sure that once you try it, you will want to go back pretty soon, just like me!


Afghan Pamir Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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