After years of eating kababs, I finally ate The Kabab.

It’s not easy being a foodie. Even less so if you’re a food blogger. Everyone and their uncle suddenly feels like I should know about their favorite little restaurant in town. If I don’t, then I get the look of utter disbelief. Followed by that withering, condescending stare: …and you call yourself a foodie?!

B…b…but, I just moved back to Dubai last February, after practically all of my post-high-school grown up life away. I admit I’ve failed to try some of the most renowned places. I admit that there are still big gaping holes in my knowledge of the good eats in this city, embarrassingly big fat gaping holes. I admit it I admit it I admit it. And if ignorance is a crime, then for the love of God SPANK ME [softly].

Shebanx was the latest one to throw down the gauntlet and challenge my foodie status:
you’ve never been?
no. I can’t believe it either.
ok ok. please don’t rub it in. I just moved back to dubai last year. […and I was terribly occupied hatching an egg farm before that.]
i won’t rub it in .. but this situation .. it needs to be fixed…yeah, i won’t take you seriously till you’ve been there.
I’m devastated.

I was devastated. 1) Because my foodie status was being threatened by a guy who may be a cool photographer, a car guru, a computer dude, a movie buff, a parrot tamer, a whateverbutHESNOTAFOODAAY. And 2) because I hadn’t been to the legendary Daily Restaurant ever. Nope, nev-ver. It was all pretty damning. Worse, I was shipped off to India the next day after this debilitating conversation with Sheban, so my foodie status was left hanging in the limbo, not to be rectified until I got back to Dubai.

Two and half painful weeks later, the boy dragged me to the place to redeem my self-proclaimed foodie crown of glory. That’s when it dawned on me that I’d been driving past plates of these nearly every day with blinders on –

Every forkful of Behari kabab – occasionally alternated with a simple cooling coriander yogurt raita, but mostly eaten plain because it was too damn delicious to be diluted – was like a pleasurably painful tight slap of reality after Sheban had already made me feel like foodie dipshit. I couldn’t even fake a hmmm, it’s okaaay, a bit overhyped look of tedium on my face to redeem my foodie status through the meal. Those first few tentative bites through the grilled yogurt spiced kabab marinade…gradually realizing that the buttery mushy heady meaty paste wasn’t just marinade, but it was…GASP…it was actually the beef itself…melted into a tartare like magic substance on the grills…those first few bites spread this look of realization, this kabab coming-of-age acceptance right across my face. I couldn’t fake it. I’d been touché-d…by a guy who didn’t even profess to love food at 0.2% of the passion I put into it.

I figured maybe this meat-transcends-meat experience was only peculiar to the behari kababs. Only to be proven wrong minutes later by a chunk of Naihari mutton that nearly dripped off the spoon with the same ease as the gravy it was drenched in:

My time in Hyderabad implies that I am no stranger to high quality Naihari. But somehow, I can’t distinctly remember any one time that catapulted me into the state of giddy meaty delirium like Daily’s Naihari did. It was so good, I could feel this giggle waiting to erupt from within…out of disbelief, out of enlightenment, out of dopey-eyed soppy melty mutton love.

We ordered tandoori roti, but really, the bread of choice was the sheermal. Typically made with milk, cardamom, ghee and all the things you’d find on the other side of the Indo-Pak rainbow. Good, very good, but not extraordinary. I wasn’t as wow-ed because I’ve had more moist and decadent sheermal at the famous Karim’s in Delhi. But sheermal is one of those things that even if not at its peak of perfection, the fragrant cardamom buttery smell will instinctively draw you to nibble on it.

Another guy who’s foodie recommendations are not to be taken lightly, @calvinslogic, has stamped his seal of approval on Daily’s mutton biryani and shami kababs. But there was only so much enlightenment I could deal with in one sitting under Sheban’s Itoldyouso gaze, so I’m reserving those two dishes for when I crawl back to Daily’s all alone, like a hermit entering a cave for supremely silent meat meditation.

But getting back to the kababs, the raison d’etre of this institution, those Behari kababs are the most – and when I use that superlative, I mean that superlative – the MOST unbelievably soft gooey meaty completely-in-sync-with-raw-wild-masculinity-of-headstrong-beefiness that I have ever tasted. Honestly, that I have EVER tasted – spanning Dubai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Istanbul, New York, ethnic caves of Virginia and Houston, and every other lesser kabab city I could have crossed over the years.

Daily should make it to my IwannaTATTOOyoutomytastebuds list. But since I don’t have said list (yet), it’ll have to settle for a spot on my Best of 2011 list.

I think there should be a moral to this story. All such coming of age stories have gotta have a moral. In fact, I think there may be two morals to this one. The superficial one, and the deep one. The superficial one is that you can’t ever take your foodie status for granted, always be humble, observe what people around you – whether food lovers or not – are noshing on, bury your ego to try something, and admit how awesome it is to the person who made you weep over not having tasted one of Dubai’s greatest kababs.

The deep, more profound one, is that if you haven’t eaten at Daily’s, then you sure in hell ain’t a foodie.

Daily Restaurant
Phone: +971 (4) 3960338
Tariq Bin Ziad Road, right before Al Maktoum Bridge and Ramee Hotel if you’re coming from Bur Juman, Bur Dubai

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.

21 thoughts on “After years of eating kababs, I finally ate The Kabab.

  1. kooksfood says:

    So it was good then? lol

    (Don’t feel too bad… I have never been either! :-o)

  2. saleem says:

    Let us go this Friday and try the Naihari and then I can tell you which one is better – one from here or the famous one from Madina Hotel in Hyderabad in the old cilty

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Sliceofmylyfe – hahaha…then you saw me go pink, blue and yellow with happy meat coma! ;)

      @kooksfood. – No it was not good. It was TONGUE-THUMPINGLY INSANE. Gotta try this one lady, just gotta try it for yourself.

      @saleem – ah, from the mouth of a true Hyderabadi daddy. A rival place that I have never tried! Maybe we could drop in at Madina on our next trip to Hyderabad this month…

  3. ninu says:

    okie… just so you know..and just so you dont give another non foodie the chance to challenge your supreme ( and it totally is supreme as u have me scampering to the next restaurant you review here ) foodie status.. there is ANOTHER daily in qusais which was what i had pegged as the real im not too sure if this daily which is closer to home for me is the same as THAT daily but it just so happened that the other day we were struck with a hankering for those behari kebabs and we decided to give the burjuman daily a shot.. it actually tasted almost the same as that OTHER daily …so im not too sure now if these 2 daily’s are the same…boy thats a lot of daily’s …
    in any case.. yes the bihari kebabs totally rock =D so do the gola kebabs actually… they re all tied up with string to stop them from fallin apart !! its an exercse in patience to eat em .

  4. FooDiva says:

    Oh my I have never tried either so I guess am not a foodie :) Thanks for sharing, must go then.

  5. accordingtodina says:

    Oh we r regulars… U must also try their mash dal and their green chilli kheema!!! Yummmmm.. they also serve pakola- a version of bubbly roohafza in green!!!!

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @ninu – ah yes! I was aware and thoroughly confused by the Qusais Daily. Time to do some scouting around to see if the two are connected. Those Gola kababs sound pretty awesome, taking notes as the learned ones in the city [<–that includes you] spill their meaty secrets… ;)

      @FooDiva – yes you must, I’m really curious to hear how FooDiva rates this place! (…and worry not, foodie status can be quickly and deliciously redeemed with one of those Behari kabab wonders)

      @accordingtodina – wha…? there’s more awesomeness at this place that I missed?! I think I need to convert this blog into a wiki, and just let people share their dishes for a change so I can sit back and absorb some real knowledge of what’s being dished out in this city. I would rename the blog: I Live in a Sponge.

  6. Farwin says:

    Ohhh…this makes me want to dig into these kebabs right now..nice write up,Arva.I was laughing my head off and at same time craving to have those.My husband will be delighted to find me suggesting(demanding,rather..) places to have a bite,for a change…

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Brenda – you sure do, and call me if you do, I would love to meet up!

      @Farwin – Thanks lady, always happy to help, especially if it gives ya brownie points with the hubby :)

  7. Didi says:

    There’s a Daily Restaurant here in my side of town! A stone’s throw away from my place…MUST grab some Buhari kebabs and Naihari :) I tried the chicken version of the kebabs from Sarhad Darbar, but I think the beef version will just send me to foodie cloud 9. another addition to my list!

  8. Farhandxb says:

     You MUST sample the Daily in Qusais. MUST. And theres the grandaddy of the dailies (called Delhi Restaurant) out in Naif behind the Al Futtaim Mosque.

    Sheesh kebabs, nihari & biryani at Delhi
    Bihari kebabs, nihari and sheermal at Daily Qusais

    Apologies but the Karama Daily does not register in comparison to these two greats :)

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @7813499263e423fb32aea786965fd122:disqus – I do love Delhi! Their hari mirch keema and nihari are just mind blowing. Made a mental note to try the Daily Qusais ;)

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