GREAT dinner at Bahar - Afghani on CIA
Very little has been discussed about Bahar on this board, but we took the kids here tonight and were absolutely blown away.
To start we had the fried pumpkin dumplings - crisp and light.
Entrees: Lamb Biryani and Narange Pulow (spelling?) the latter is a saffron rice with almonds, candied orange peel, carrots and chunks of fabulous grilled lamb. I have had versions of this elsewhere and this was really excellent. Lamb Biryani was slightly spicy with tender lamb and onions. Also had a mixed kebab with lamb chops and tandoori chicken with carrots and raisins - the chicken was amazing but the lamb was overcooked. Next time tandoori chicken only. Also shared a vegetable combo with eggplant, spinach and okra - all distinctly flavored, all yummy. We were two adults and two small children, and the whole bill was under $60 with tip and we had enough food for at least four adults.
Go! It's worth the trip!
Driving to DiFara's up CIA last week (smile), I noticed that the # of places (large and small) serving Afgani and Pakistanian food has multiplied again. Does your post mean that Bahar is the only place worth visiting? Has anyone been to the now very large Bukhara in the last year? How 'bout the ones right by the Kent Theater? I'd love to hear some reports. Given this thread, Bahar is on my list. I can use some more additions. Thanks.
I had lunch at Bahar today. Before I go on let me say that this was my first Afghani meal. I must say except for the bread and brown basmati rice I found the food void of flavor. I had a mixed grill of tika (lamb) and chabli (oven fried ground beef) with vegetable soup and shir-chay tea. The meats were moist yet devoid of any spice. When I say spice I don't mean heat/hot spice I mean any kind of spice/flavor at all. It had more of a watered down marinade taste. When I looked at the soup menu it had chicken-lenil soup and vegetable soup as choices. I ordered the vegetable soup. The vegetable soup is lentil without the chicken. I had to ask the waitress if it was truly vegetable and not chicken-lentil. She told me it was vegetable. It had some flavor but again a more watered down taste. The tea was an anomoly because I could taste the cardamam quite well but not any tea leaf per say. The mixture of steamed milk and cardaman gives it a natural sweetness and thus saves you putting in sugar, still I would have liked to have tasted some tea in that pot. The yogurt-mint sauce tasted more like a mayonaise based spread. And, I could have done without the Hot-97 station blaring on the speakers.
Now, with all that I will say that my waitress was very attentive. She gave me a pitcher of water fully iced, made sure that I had everything I ordered and was very friendly. The bread is very good. You should eat it quick though because once it gets cool it loses it moist, fluffy texture. The brown basmati is also good. It has a pronounced nutty taste.
So is Afghan food like this in general or is this another case of making foreign dishes "palatable" to us Yankees?
I'm wondering if they've gone downhill. I live nearby and used to get takeout a lot. Hadn't had it for about a year, then ordered a few weeks ago. It was really not as good as usual. The Morgh Kebab (chicken kebab) was really dry and seemed reheated. The eggplant, which had been delicious in the past, was slimy and not that great. I wouldn't say it was devoid of flavor, but just not as good as usual. But it had never been dull, rather quite intensely spiced, though not hot-spicy. (Funny you liked the bread; I always thought of their bread as a weak link, but maybe it's just that it doesn't travel well.) I wonder if anybody who goes regularly has anything to add. I don't think they ever dumbed the food down for non-afghanis. (How many afghanis are there areound anyway?