This might come as a shocker to people who’ve struggled to stay afloat through my cumbersome food sagas in the past, but I’ve had such an intense two weeks of work and Stuff (with all the dirty laundry that the capital S implies) that I have nothing much to write. My mind is blank. I’m trying to revive it by playing Starship on repeat, but I might need another 48 hours of ‘rock and roll’ to snap out of it.
Lucky you, because you get one of my most rapidly digestable posts. No faffing about, just straight-up kababs grilled along the sidewalk in Al Shahba Sharjah, steps away from where I spent my kindergarten years.
I sat in the car, watching from afar as cherry-sized nubs of chicken or mutton were latched onto a skewer and cooked over violent sparks screeching out of what looked like nothing more than a basic beachside grill. The first kabab, its ears smouldering with charcoal-infused char, brought on an unexpected but deeply elemental wave of nostalgia – some nebulous memory mixture of the beach, our balcony BBQs in Old Dubai, childhood, grilled buttered corn on the sidewalks in India, a squeeze of lime.
While far from being the best kababs in the country, these ones get a full score on simplicity, character and smack-in-your-face charcoal flavour. The fuss-free ambiance of the sidewalk and the distinctly audible voice of lime calling through the chicken kababs make for a totally unpretentious and effortless dinner experience. But not a thoughtless one, given a kabab marinade that sings with labneh and kiwi, a tenderizing duo that’s worth a round of applause just for the creative insight that a pavement-chef invested in it.
I’d caution against overcomplicating your meaty meal with the side serving of herbs and chutney, these kababs deserve your unembellished chew. This is the sort of place where you grab your chicken and mutton fix, stash up on silky tandoor rotis made by the grinning guys next door, and lose yourself in the soothing repetition of cars milling through the unofficial driveway for their dinner order. It’s all very laissez faire, as evident from the baker listening to his headphones and prodding rotis off of the scorching sides of his tandoor. It’s the kind of kabab experience that looks you in the face – you with all your complications in life and your work debacles and your personal struggles and your heaps of dirty laundry, you with all your Stuff – and shrugs with a flavour that is so simple that really, don’t think too much, just eat.
A skewer of thanks to the aerial flying guru at Airspectiv for introducing me to this spot.
Calimero Cafeteria & Al Shabab Bakery
Al Shahba, Sharjah. If you’re a smart phone navigator, here’s my Google map with the location and all my other hideouts
12 thoughts on “As simple as kababs on a sidewalk in Sharjah.”
Fab post – and good reminder to focus on enjoying something simple. My week has been full of capital S
Good luck hun! The only capital S’s in your life are in SuperStar. That’s what you are.
Great post – love that first picture too.
Did I hear ‘cherry-sized’ nubs of chicken or mutton were latched onto a skewer? Back to the basics… we are so so caught up nowadays:)
You are so naughty. *SPANK*
Reminds me of our days in Hyderabad in 60’s when we use to make such kababs on charcoal grills in the open yard. Would love to try the kababs with you one of these days.
Pick the day Dad, we’ll go there!
Wow this is the first time i read one of your posts, and you kinda make food sound poetic!! beautifully written.
i know this place and as you said the simplicity is what makes it, the skewer is only two dirhams, but its bite sized so you’ll end up eating like 15 , khoboz is light and its served with a delicious seasoned yogurt.
There’s nothing like hearing from someone who’s a veteran of the place you’ve blogged about. Thanks for leaving your thoughts Nassar, and I’m glad you feel like the post did justice to the kababs :) Good things in life are nearly free…or at least at the dirt cheap price of 2 dirhams!
Post may be simple… but i lived through every morsel of it. Your writing is amazing Arvaa.
Thank you Shaima and Latifa! I’m glad the post was so evocative.