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.
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)