I get the opportunity to do these reviews at the oddest times. Like the day before my salary came in, for instance. So, when the choice was reviewing either kebabs or biriyanis in Fraser Town, I chose kebabs. Equally unforgiving, no doubt, but something the wallet finds easier to stomach. But the one thing about kebabs: they’re easy to make (most of the time), a very no-nonsense, straight-up kind of food that sits up and says, bite me. Plus they’re addictive. And cheapish. Sue me.
At Alibaba’s café and restaurant on M.M. Road, the party promptly went mad over the hummus.
This rather quaint eatery does serve some addictive hummus. Getting to the main course, one thing we agreed on was the Chenjeh Kebab. Now that was substantial: spiced lamb dripping with sauce and in some cases, hummus. After we demolished one plate, no one had the stamina to ask for another. If you do, ask for the Bakthiyari, a lamb and chicken skewer. Then there was the staple — Seekh kebab, chicken and lamb.
ZAOQ has some curious dishes in their repertoire. One of these is the Galouti Kebab. It’s rather savoury with a mild, soothing taste. Minced meat, and although some places usually use papaya in the recipe, it wasn’t very evident here.
The Seekh kebab here was altogether better. The problem with Seekh kebabs, however, is that they’re too standardised. The quintessential Seekh kebab seems altogether too elusive to define; pushcart vendors who charge Rs. 30 often serve as good a set as any restaurant.
So what I look out for is the aftertaste. The stronger the aftertaste, the better the quality. Maybe I have it backwards, but what the heck, it’s at least one way of telling. This one’s aftertaste had a mild minty flavour to it. Interesting.
Aquarium, well, not the first choice kebabs surely. But that Chicken Noorani Kebab! The original recipe calls for marinated chicken served with almond sauce. So, while I was busy trying to decide if the almond sauce tasted like almond sauce, three-quarters of the kebabs were abducted. It’s thick, greasy, and you’ll find yourself licking that sauce off your fingers. The Prawn Ghee Roast and Pomfret tandoor are also recommended. You can’t go wrong with seafood: all that protein puts any tension in its place.
The last place we visited was Elements Heritage on Mosque Road. The Lucknow ke Kebab wasn’t too bad. Those potato-coated snacks went down like pakodas, and after some dumbing down, you realise that’s actually what they are. There was also the Seekh-e-Elements, but by now anyone would have had enough of Seekh kebabs for an afternoon, and this particular one satisfied the stomach more than the tongue. Another recommendation is the Peshawari Murgh Tikka — chicken spiced ‘n’ diced — not the main attraction but more of an opening act to the meal that was to follow. On a more general note, Elements does a good lunch.