What to sneak over to the son-in-law that married your vegetarian daughter?

This cocoon of chickeny goodness.

An egg and chicken kathi roll from Shiraz. And I speak from experience. Second hand-experience. A friend let on the other day that he had tried Shiraz. Oh really? You did? Umm yeah, as a takeout. My mother-in-law sneaked it over to me as a private treat.

Sanity prevails, we love you mother-in-law and may every obedient carnivorous son-in-law be so rewarded.

Let me unwrap this masterpiece for you. The bowels of this beauty get stuffed with marinated* chunks of chicken, an omelet, a sea of green chilies (beware, you have been forewarned.), and caramelized onions coated with concentratedly delicious residual pan grease – everything drizzled up with a big fat squeeze of lemon.

The kicker though, is that the insides are all suited up into thick concentric layers of a heftily oiled Indian paratha. Crispy, chewy, flaky…depending on how much heat touched any one area in the pan, but all of it together making that deadly combination that makes me not want to move the roll away from my mouth for anything more than…than the three and a half seconds needed to let out a deep contented moan between bites.

*I’d dissect the marinade for you if I could, but it was hard to stop and smell the flowers when all I wanted was to dive into that kathi roll and roll myself in it endlessly. I’m willing to bet it had some combo of yogurt and coriander powder and ginger garlic paste, just because most Indian marinades have those thrown in at some point or the other.

Now Shiraz, a transplant from Kolkata, India where its Awadhi cuisine seems to have a pretty decent fan following and blogger coverage, is also known for their regular mutton biryani. BUT, being the biryani snob daughter of a mother who makes the most killer Hyderabadi biryani [drool over killer biryani here], Shiraz’s rice concoction with fewer than four mutton pieces scantily buried under the rice grains just didn’t cut it for me. My friends loved it though, which makes me even more certain that if mom were to open up a Biryani joint in Dubai one day, every other restaurant claiming to serve Biryani would have to change the name of their Biryani attempts to something less grandiose, like…non-veg pulao. Till the blessed day that happens, if you haven’t tried my mom’s version, you should probably mute out my egoistic claims and just succumb to a bowl of what Shiraz puts out.

Moving on, while my friends focused on the biryani look-alike, I focused on this:

A kingsly hunk of chicken chaap, cushioned so comfortably on a bed of oil that it defies the menu description of this dish being ‘shallow-fried.’ Don’t be put off by the grease – the marinade on this chicken was just…majestic. I am usually not a fan of overly rich Mughlai cuisine that greasily schlops itself against your ribs and makes you a sloth for the rest of the day. But the yogurt, saffron (tons of it, the high quality stuff.), and other mild spices that the chicken had been fried in came together to create this subtly sweet, teasingly fragrant essence that I just wanted to bottle up…and inhale in little heady puffs that the night as I curled up on my full happy belly and fell asleep. CRAAAZZZY GOOD.

So good in fact, that I packed the tiny little leftover tendrils of saffronated chicken home to eat with Dad. He endorsed this legally addictive stuff too.

Another two dishes that I’ve since tried at Shiraz, just because I couldn’t get enough and had to go back for a kathi roll and meaty takeout two days later, were the Mutton Reyzala and Mutton Pasinda. One had mutton chunks floating in a creamy soupy gravy, while the other was more of a dry masala version. Dad, sister and I debated passionately over the dinner table over which of the two was the Reyzala vs. Pasinda since Shiraz hadn’t labeled the packages. But all that matters was that in both, the utterly butterly cubes of mutton had been totally plumped up with similar addictive, yogurt and saffron-heavy marinades like I’d tasted with the chicken chaap. I think Shiraz could drown anything possible in that marinade of theirs and I’d be a happy camper.**

Looksie who just made my Best of 2011 list:

…Applause for Shiraz’s grand entry into The List. Standing ovation. Confetti in the air. Crazy mass of people going wild with whistles and hoots.

…holy shizzles, stampede resulting from sheer excitement…

A whiff of that yogurt-saffron marinade to tranquilize the crazy wild happy masses.

[Special thanks to Howard uncle, an expert in Kathi rolls who used to run his own, very famous Kathi roll joint once upon a time in Sharjsh. And to this Bengali blogger whose review of the original Shiraz in Kolkata helped me zoom right into the good stuff on the menu.]

**PS. I have since tried cold mutton pasinda/reyazala, whichever one was the dry one, straight from the fridge, the marinade and bits of gravy all forming a thick cold layer of concentrated flavor on the meat. Dare I say, frigid little saffronated mutton popsicles may become the next best thing after cold leftover pizza.

Shiraz Restaurant
Ground floor of Al Abbas Building (getting off from Maktoum Bridge, go straight ahead, past Bur Juman on the left. Shiraz will be on your left, maybe a block or so after you pass Burjuman.)
Bur Dubai
Phone: +971 (4) 358-9818

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.

8 thoughts on “What to sneak over to the son-in-law that married your vegetarian daughter?

  1. Owais says:

    Oh crap. I walked past this place for TWO WEEKS !!!! One day, I even ate at Subway, when I could have just opened my window and hollered at Shiraz to send me the Kathi Roll… and now, I am back in Jeddah, and will be back in Dubai in September. This is cruel and unusual punishment. And to think Ramadan is coming up… Guess I am going to break my fast looking at Picture # 1 :((

  2. saleem says:

    Yes liked the Kathi Roll, only complaint – too big and too much filling!

  3. Mishti says:

    I agree about the Biryani. When we were in Pune (where every year half of West Bengal’s students just seems to descend), my friends would go on and on and on about Shiraz. And this is when Pune has some killer biryani places. So once on vacation when I was there, I dragged my best friend and cousin to Shiraz and pretty much hated the biryani. Too white, very little masala and almost no fragrance :(

    But the rolls of West Bengal are something else. So I’m gonna go here next weekend and lap up pretty much everything they have on the rolls menu :D

    When are we doing an FIA meet at your place for Aunty"s biryani?

    1. InaFryingPan says:

      @Owais – Nooooo…14 dirham mediocre sub over a 10 dirham thick and juicy kathi roll? Never shalt that gross error ever be made again, you are no longer in the dark my friend.

      @saleem – ….and that’s a bad thing? Pack up the other half and eat it the next day, though I think the problem we both faced was the total inability to stop eating until we were at the other end of the wrapping paper [ooh oops, where’d that thick n juicy roll go? Oh shucks, I ate it all.]

      @Mishti – Biryani haters UNITE. But with that scathing comment, I’m a bit nervous about what your Bong expert taste buds would have to say about those kathi rolls…let me know (secretly) what you think when you try them!
      And yes, mommy needs to do a Biryani rerun. Date TBD after Ramadan ;)

  4. Radhika G says:

    Call me a Delhi snob, but if you like Kathi rolls, you HAVE to try Khan Chacha when you’re in Delhi next. He’s a legend and makes the most divine stuff…

    1. inafryingpan says:

      @6e5522a5ed61ca9515144136bf245070:disqus – done, will try it for sure! :)

  5. IshitaUnblogged says:

    Holly Molly! I never knew that you had written on Shiraz. I descended upon this post as I was searching for Biryani posts from all over the world! Et tu Brute?

    Shiraz was never such a favourite of mine when I was actually living in Kolkata. Now it’s become a nostalgic connection to my childhood. I believe that my twitter conversation on Shiraz with Ariana Bundy brought her to the restaurant too! This is another side of Kolkata Shiraz, if you are interested in reading (http://ishitaunblogged.com/2012/07/24/firni-or-ferni-ramadan-or-ramzan-mallick-bazar-or-karama/). In fact S can eat Shiraz Biryani 365days a year. And I could eat the Kolkata Roll!

    There’s a Bong guy making authentic Kolkata roll in a restaurant called Chachu’s Roll in Karama.

    Lovely reading Tapabrata’s post too:)


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