By Tes Silverman
Hidden in a shopping plaza across from Dix Hills Animal Hospital is Kabul Restaurant, a family-owned restaurant serving Afghani cuisine since 1991. While it may seem unassuming from the outside, don’t let the exterior fool you.
When you walk in, you are greeted by Manila, one of the owners, whose warm welcome is not unlike the atmosphere of the restaurant. Hues of red, pink and dark wood give off an inviting ambience that extends to the images that line the walls. More importantly, you experience the same sentiment from the meals you are served.
Appetizers like pakowra-e-badenjan (batter-dipped eggplant with meat sauce and mantoo (steamed dumplings with ground meat and onions) are great starters. They both go for $6.95. The batter-dipped eggplant may look heavy, but is actually light and crunchy. While the eggplant is usually served with yogurt and meat sauce, it can be served without them and not diminish the eggplant’s flavors. In comparison to the batter-dipped eggplant, the dumpling’s thin wrapper makes it easy to taste the flavors of the tender ground meat.
For entrees, Kabul’s combination beef and chicken kebab with brown rice ($15.95), challaw kadu (sauteed pumpkin topped with yogurt, $13.95) and challaw gulpi (cauliflower stew cooked with tomatoes, onions, ginger and spices, $12.95) should not be missed. The combination kebab is a great choice for meat lovers because you can taste the different spices used to cook the chicken or beef. You can substitute succulent lamb for the chicken or beef for a few extra dollars. The kebabs are served in skewers and are quite tender and bursting with flavor.
For vegetarians, the challaw kadu (sautéed pumpkin) and challaw gulpi (cauliflower stew) are great choices. The sautéed pumpkin is tender and slightly sweet, which brings out its texture. The cauliflower is cooked in tomatoes, ginger and onions creating a stew that is light but filled with flavor. The tomato sauce combined with the spices transforms the bland cauliflower into a delicious entree. The challaw kadu and challaw gulpi are some examples of dishes that could be ordered as vegan because as in the case of the batter-dipped eggplant, the batter is made with all-purpose flour and doesn’t contain eggs.
To go along with the entrees, you can’t go wrong with the brown rice, which is cooked with raisins and carrots. The rice was cooked perfectly and the carrots and raisins give it some sweetness and color, elevating the rice to another level.
For dessert options, the rice pudding topped with pistachios and spiced with cardamom ($5.95) or the ras malyi (homemade cheese in a bowl of cold, sweet milk, topped with pistachios and spiced with cardamom, $5.95) are great choices to end your meal.
For owners Manila and her son Lee, every dish that comes out of Kabul’s kitchen is authentic and mirrors those she would serve to her family and friends. Having a restaurant that has been operating for over two decades, the commitment to quality has not wavered. According to Manila, “I want every patron to experience a homey-feeling, where the cuisine is homemade and they leave happy because of what they ate”.