Dear Dina, I’d never have tried Chatkhara’s Egg Shami Kabab Bun if not for you.

You’d be surprised at how seriously I take your comments on my blog. Hours after I post up one of my ramblings, I keep looking over at my blackberry to see if I get that exciting email notification of someone having left me a comment. It’s almost like a weird spastic tick…drink water put glass down check BB. wake up yawn check BB. wash my hands check BB oh eff I got BB wet wipe hands check BB again. turn on the tv flip a channel check BB. check BB look at my toes check BB. It’s maddening but I just can’t help it. And when I do see an email hit, subject line: “New comment requires moderation…” – it gives me this crazy buzz, this heated adrenaline rush, this insane desire to reread the comment twice out of sheer excitement. Sometimes thrice if it’s a comment longer than two lines.

Yeah no, my social life isn’t particularly rocking at this time.

But yes, I do take comments very seriously. So seriously that if you throw out a restaurant recommendation in your comment, and that restaurant is one of those ethnic little joints that I typically hang out in, then nine times out of ten, that recommendation will go down in my little black book of ‘must-trys’ (aka BB memo application). Like when Ninu suggested that I try Zagol next to Betawi, you better know that I dang well will. Or when R1986 talked up the paranthas and chicken fry at Buhari, that comment will be regurgitated word for word when I’m at Buhari next. Or when a fellow blogger Dina threw out Chatkhara in response to my post on Emly and Chilli. Grab BB. Open memo. C-h-a-t-k-h-a-r-a.

Chatkhara has now officially been checked off. Mom and I pushed past their doors last Friday and were met with this muttony hunk-a-chunk…

Meet The Egg Shami Kabab Bun. This meaty stack breaks down into a sesame bun, tomato slice, cucumber, curl of a raw red onion, omelet fold, patty, second half of omelet fold, bun end. Unlike the patty you’d get at your fav American burger joint – a puck of minced meat that is quite solid, chewable to the toothy touch – Chatkhara shoves in a shami kabab. This baby is a soft mound of minced earthy mutton that never really becomes hard or chewable…it stays super tender, mushy, almost tartare-like on the insides, instantly melting into meaty juices in your mouth and drenching the bun, omelet and veggies in a way that your standard cheeseburger just couldn’t.

A smear of Heinz would actually kiss the meat in lovingly welcome ways, but an atypical burger deserves an atypical condiment. I smushed in the corner of my burger into their thumbelina cup of watery tamarind sauce, letting the bun and meat and omelet sponge up the sour tangy juice that does justice to all the Indian spices they’ve got dancing about in the patty.

Having said all that, you’d think that the burger was my top pick at Chatkhara. But in reality, what made it to first place was this simple Mutton Reshmi Kabab roll, a soft smokey log of minced mutton kabab warmly snuggled up inside a fried parantha. Chatkhara had managed to bullseye that happy bread to meat ratio, made even happier with a quick dip in some tamarind water or covered with lashings of spicy yogurt chutney.

Other munchies that made our table included a palm-sized patty of Chapli Kabab…maybe bigger than your palm. unless you’re an ogre.

All beef, with this crusty thick beefy exterior that will make you feel every inch a man no matter how daintily dressed you are that evening. Though after the soft tender meaty caresses of the shami kabab bun and the reshmi kabab roll, my jaws didn’t quite take to the tougher chapli kabab in the same way. That, and the furrows of whole coriander seeds running through the kabab sadly overpowered the meat. Go easy on ‘em chef.

Our first and only chicken attempt was this stack of Malai Kababs, marinated in mild spices and cream, that I paired with a thick buttery garlic naan. These kababs are good takeout material…we packed up the leftovers so I could have them right out of the fridge the next day, hours after all those flavors had a chance to gel up into these cold pockets of creamy salty chickeny goodness.

I bet the vegetarians who started reading this post have X-ed out the browser window in disgust by this point. But for those of you who hung in there, let me tell you that Chatkhara has a surprisingly decent veggie and chaat menu, with a Garlic Mayo Roll and a Paneer Tikka Bun Kabab that would have absolutely graced my table were I a vegetarian or a more well-balanced omnivore…which I am not.Anyhoo, to all my patient veggie readers, here’s a little meat-free present for ya [credits to mom who ordered this. Yaay Ma.]…

Pani Puri, sprinkled with what must be a combination of rock salt and chaat masala, which you’d dunk into tamarind chutney and a bowl of very mildly spiced water. This was not your typical uber-spicy Pani Puri stuffed with chickpeas and onions…these were very subtle, light, almost floating in your mouth unlike the usual canon of heaty pani puris that shoot this burning sensation down your throat. Me like, me like very much.

Oh here’s another veggie pick, maybe because it’s a drink and you can’t blend meat into a beverage?…or can you? Cold sweet lassi, creamy, thick and rich enough to sub in for dessert. I’d rather have a nice plump earthen cup of this than one of those cloyingly sweet Indian desserts.

If I hadn’t run out of tummy space, I’d have loved to try their Shahi Haleem (mad awesome mush of wheat, lentils, meat), Nihari (slow cooked beef stew), and Kadai Chicken [I’m just waiting for one of you who’ve been to Chatkhara to leave me a comment saying how awesome those dishes are and how stupid it was of me to not order them and how I should install a second tummy in my body to do more justice to meaty menus like this one. Go on, lay it on me.]

I walked out like a pot-bellied [happily] grunting caveman, out of that cave of meaty temptations, marinated, wrapped, curried and grilled in true Pakistani and Indian style. Come to think of it, the owners should seriously consider redesigning the place like a cave…with rocks and mud and raw caveman spirit thumping in through the walls. Frankly, they should redesign it with anything but that commercial chainy white lighting and semi-modernesque fast food décor that scrapes off all marks of ethnic character and replaces it with an Ikea-like fast food homogeneity. I mean seriously, if you have a menu that speaks to the heart of the common meat lovin’ man, why would you dumb it all down to look like a fast food chain…whywhywhywhywhyWHY?

Righto. Rant done.

Anyhoo, thanks to you Dina, I’d eaten through an animal farm that evening. I’d be shocked if this review didn’t have at least one of you go wild with ‘hey, you’ve tried nothing till you’ve had the shami kabab at _____ ’ So go wild, unleash your kabab recommendations on me.

Signing off.

Publish post.


Check BB.

Shop no. 6, Building no. R- 421, Za’abeel Road, Karama, Dubai (across the road from Al Reef Bakery, same block as Moulin D’or Bakery)
Phone: +971-435836760/43583686
Facebook page

Author: InaFryingPan

With a family legacy of ingenious cooks, a nutritionist and chef-extraordinaire mother, and a father who introduced me to steak and caviar when I could barely reach the table, I had no choice but to acquire a keen awareness of food during my childhood years in Dubai. But it was only after I found myself on a college campus in Philadelphia – far away from home, too cheap as a student to spend on anything other than pizza, and with dorm rooms that had little rat-holes of kitchens if they even had them at all – when I developed a heightened appreciation of food. An appreciation of food that I once ate every night at the dinner table in Dubai, but that was now an entire ocean away. I lusted for the culinary treasures that lay outside the stale walls of my college dining hall, hijacked friends’ kitchens to try my hand at something, anything , remotely edible, and greedily raided different websites in search of highly-rated restaurants. With my move to New York to work for a consulting firm that secretly harbored self-professed foodies, my appreciation transformed into a passion, an addicition. I felt like everyone around me in New York was talking about food: where to get the best cupcakes, pizza slices, banh mi, kati rolls, pho, fried chicken, and every other food item out there that is just a plain old dish in some part of the world, but that’s become hyped to unforeseen proportions in New York. What fuelled my addiction over time was travel to different cities, both for work and play, which gave me unfettered access to the culinary havens of not only New York, but also of DC, Virginia, Chicago, Houston, Vegas, Austin, Seattle and even a little city called Bentonville (Arkansas!). After 9 years away from home, I’ve finally taken the leap to come back to Dubai – with not just an awareness, but genuine appreciation and passionate addiction for what I’d taken for granted as a child. Mom, I’m back to reclaim my seat at your dinner table, and to rediscover this city with its ever-expanding menu of international flavors.

24 thoughts on “Dear Dina, I’d never have tried Chatkhara’s Egg Shami Kabab Bun if not for you.

  1. Sukaina says:

    Oh I am soooo the same when I hit that ’Publish’ button. All I want to do is check my email like every half second! I think I need to get myself an BB :) Oh and I definately need ogre hands for bigger chapli kebabs!

  2. Ninu says:

    Arwa, akin to the rush I feel when I put up a cake pic on fb and literally open my page every 10minutes to check who commented what….ok no I leave it on all day…for days..non stop fb. And now I saw you mention me and I picked up my phone and told my Sis " you will not believe this. Arwa of Iliveinafryingpan mentioned ME in her post!!!!!!!!! " screech screech screech . Arwa you re a rockstar. Like totally. : D

  3. accordingtodina says:

    hahahaha.. Amazing post..Im soo glad u went there :D and liked it!!!!! I liked the title VERY MUCH! Oh and did u try the hari mirch keema and mash dal at Daily restaurant yet? Yes Im rubbing it in now *devilish chuckle*

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Sukaina – ooooo my first commenter! True enough, I saw this seconds after you’d posted it…and despite this being my 117th post, my heart still skipped a beat as though it were a comment on my 1st post in the world. *checks BB*…*sees comment*…*dramatic ms. universe hand-on-mouth gasp*

      @Ninu – lady, you make me feel like a celebrity! [which clearly I am not. I am just a common person with a gargantuan appetite.] I was semi-napping after hitting the ’publish’ on this one…and true to tradition, checked my BB between every few nappy winks. This one had me wide awake and laughing and tingly…*EXCITED SCREEEEECH BACK*
      oh God, I love your comments.

      @accordingtodina – AND THE LADY HERSELF! You woman, are so full of restaurant and menu suggestions. Set up a 101-EATWITHDINA line and make money off of it.

  4. Sally says:

    Loved that ogre line too. The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is check my BB and it makes my day if there is a comment or two.

  5. drinacabral says:

    hehe! i understand your obsession, i think a lot of us are like that. hope this note drops u as much as excitement as a note for me… hehehe
    oo and i love pani puri!!! funny thing is even I had a note about pani puris in my recent posts :)

  6. Marta´s Kitchen says:

    Arva, i can only picture you checking your BB right now!!!hehehehe I love the way you write!You´re entertaining, funny and very honest! I´ll have to try Dina´s recommendation too!
    *a comment is awaiting moderation*

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Sally – Wanna start a new group….Food for Ogres Annonymous….? [FooOA] ;)

      @drinacabral – It did it did IT DID! Returned the excited happy tingly feeling by leaving you a comment on that delicioso pani puri post.

      @Marta’s Kitchen – *Checks BB as she’s walking down the car park slope to the car*…*New email*…*Comment awaiting*….WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOO! Comment Approved baby, comment approooooved!
      This is how every walk to the car should be – madcrazyhappyI’moncrack. ;)

  7. Tasmeea says:

    The food looks great, would love to try this place out!

  8. najla koya says:

    Drooling over that Reshmi Kabab Roll !!! And every time someone mentions pani puri, I remember your Pani puri post… :) During the initial blogging days I used to refresh the site stats every 10 min :) now got more control over myself :)

  9. ginger and scotch says:

    Food looks yummy. I totally relate to the checking comments thing too. I think we put a lot of ourselves in our posts so we want to know what others think and if they would validate or share the same passions we have so when there are comments/feedback, it feels awesome.

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Tasmeea – oh you must. Tell me what you think (in a second comment ;)…greedy me.)

      @najla koya – oh jeez, I remember those initial few days as a blogger too. Refreshrefreshrefresh…ooo! new visitor!…oh dang. it’s just a blithering bot.

      @ginger and scotch – So true, couldn’t have said it better. I do put a lot of myself in my posts…explains all the crazy crap that finds it’s way there.

  10. Nash at Plateful says:

    Lol.. it’s not just you girl, ain’t we all slaves of social networks, ha. For a moment there, after reading your opening stanza, I thought you were describing me–the only edit required would be to replace BB with iPhone :) When I was active on fb, I would wake up in the morning and go to toilet with my cell to see what the world was upto while I was asleep. These days I’m checking for updates on my blog, esp after a new post. It’s freaking crazy, na?

    Btw, that’s such a scrumptious feast you have displayed, I’m fairly salivating!

  11. Nasreen Abdulla says:

    You are so cute arwa. I hope you get notification of my comment right away and feel happy about it. I can’t wait to try the pani puri and lassi. Yummmmmyyyy!!! And oh please do review the dosa plaza place for me. P.S. I am the same when I post something on my blog like once a year :-)

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Nash at Plateful – buahahahahaha facebook in the toilet! The thought of dropping it into the pot always scares the crap out of me (excuse the pun).
      *Someone smart out there – design a shower curtain with a touch-screen waterproof monitor will ya? Kills me to have fifteen minutes of social media downtime in the shower.

      @Nasreen Abdulla – Seriously, who needs prozac when you can get blog comments…this made me ecstatic! Yes, dosa review to come to the blog near you soon, stay tuned.

      @Sarah – hedonista – Hells. Yeah.

  12. Saleem says:

    Did you and Mom eat all that ? Can’t imagine you both eating so much – must have been really good, would love to try the Shami Kabab Burger – true Indian style

  13. Shumaila says:

    The glorified version of the Bun Kebab straight off Karachi’s streets! I still have a couple every time i go back- its worth the stomach virus risk :D

  14. Devina Divecha says:

    Having tasted the egg shami bun kebab now… I agree. It’s good and surprised me with how, as Arva said, mushy it is. How do they do that? :S Lassi was good, and it’s amazing that just the lassi and the bun thingy came up to Dhs 16/-. That’s just value for money. Thanks for the reco.

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Saleem – yes dad, GIRL POWER! we’ve already conspired to take you back there :)

      @Shumaila – awesome, another foodie who’s part of my school of thought – eat now, do damage control later!

      @Devina Divecha – ahh nice, you tried it! mushy meat burger + sweet lassi = ROCKSTAR LUNCH.

  15. nadia says:

    Being a huge fan of bun kababs I’m dismayed at how I wasted four years of my life in the UAE without eating at Chatkhara. And I must have that lassi (and bring home that gorgeous earthen cup!). You describe your foodie adventure so elaborately that it makes me want to take the rest of the day off and rush to this restaurant.

    (Note to self: devote an entire day going through this blog’s archived posts and list down restaurant names.)

  16. Hasher Ummar says:

    Talking about Chapli kebabs, do try the one from Pathan restaurant, the authentic ones are available at the Al Quoz branch – do a take away (don’t even think of a dine in )

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @132ffbe3f79e64b0396ba6841caf775a:disqus – I suck. You left me such an awesome comment and I only caught it now. Hope you had a chance to try Chatkhara! And I do love reading about your restaurant finds as well, so the love is mutual :)
      @facebook-899315214:disqus – Thank you for the info! You know, I want to hug every reader who shares some insider foodie secret with me. But since that’s not possible, I will hug my inanimate computer *HUG*

  17. Ishitaunblogged says:

    How did I come across this post that was posted in Oct 2011? Anyway, glad that I did. And burst out laughing. Well, I don’t use a BB but I just felt that you were describing me. Last night I posted an article past midnight coz wasn’t sure whether I will get the chance to sit on my table with house full of guest. Checked whether there were any comments early in the morn while Big-Z was getting ready and I was waiting for her to get out of the loo so that I could get into it to get ready myself – a dwindling 10 views – oops! Then went for meeting, picked up Li’l Z, she’s freshening up and I thought I will check the comments. Well readers must be still hung over the long weekend. Okay, I shall wait.

    On a positive note – I came across this awesome post. How big is this bun? This road seems to be a preferred road for you Sizzler – the neighbouring joints have already been ticked off by you:)

    Chatkhara’s Egg Shami Kabab Bun – that’s the next on the agenda. Oh BTW, I read your 16 ethnic eats in Serious Eat – and have ticked off 2 – The Halo Halo which haunted me for two nights and the Mandi.

    Must thank Dina as well – for digging this one out?


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