Amazing Afghan Food… in (North) America

So, if you read our last post, you know that we went a liiiiiittle hog wild with our going out last weekend. But it was well worth it. We went to places old and new (to us), and we’ll be making many return trips to most of them. First among them for a repeat engagement will be Riaz Kabab. Why, you ask? Well…

Riaz Kabab
View from outside

It’s the food obviously…

Here’s the thing: Riaz is a solid 30+ minute drive from home for us. We live surrounded by good food and good restaurants within very, very easy walking distance. For us to drive a good long while, it would have to be something, right? And Riaz’ food definitely is something 🙂 .

Just with the appetizers, the quality was obvious. [Henry: I had the chicken broth, because when it’s good and cold out, a hearty soup just makes my heart sing 😀 .] [Mariam: Soup makes your heart sing? Ooooh boy… 🤦🏾‍♀️]

[Henry: *ahem* As I was saying, the chicken broth was a nice, simple and hearty start to the meal. Nothing was overpowering about it, but its warmth and overall richness help chase away the wintry cold that was ever-so-persistently clinging to my bones.]

Afghan Cuisine
Hearty chicken broth

[Mariam: Meanwhile, I had the baanjaan burani – roasted eggplant with yoghurt sauce. This is the type of cooking I can’t seem to replicate at home: The eggplant was well-cooked, with some pieces basically paste-like and others still deliciously stringy. The whole thing was covered with a generous heaping of yogurt sauce, and it went really well with the Afghani bread, which was soft and thick and chewy. As with Henry, this was also a good start to the meal!]

 

Our friends ordered Afghani dumplings: Mantoo (meat-filled dumplings) and ashak (leek-filled dumplings). Both types came covered in a rich sauce whose ingredients neither of us could place. But we were too busy greedily gobbling to even ask what was in the sauce  :p .

 

And after that came the main dishes, all of which came in very, very generous servings.

[Henry: Me being a carnivore and multitasker, I opted to order waziri kabab – this dish had both grilled chicken and grilled shami (minced beef). And wow, was I glad. Both were well-seasoned prior to cooking, that much was sure.  Beyond that, every single bite of both meats was very tender. The accompanying rice was also gently spiced, and it made for a good contrast with the two brochettes.]

Afghan Cuisine
Waziri kabab – grilled chicken and beef

[Mariam: Seafood for me! Grilled shrimp, to be precise. My dish was exceptional. While tender, the shrimp nonetheless had a healthy springiness to them, and every bite was a delight. So much flavour! As for the rice – I could not stop eating it! Don’t know why! I cleared off my plate lightning fast!]

Afghan Cuisine
Shrimp kabab

Meanwhile, our friends ordered  qabuli and a vegetarian version and sabsi chalao. For the uninitiated, qabuli is seasoned brown basmati rice that’s topped with a lot of carrot and raisins. It’s a light and tasty dish. As for sabsi chalao, it’s spinach and rice with lamb or beef – usually. On this visit, it was just the spinach and rice. The spinach was well-seasoned and also finely-minced. It felt and tasted like an elaborate dip, and went exquisitely well with the soft bread we first got with the appetizers.

Afghan Cuisine
Spinach, Afghan-style, right next to qabuli

We ate for quite some time. The servings were generous, and the food was rich and filling. Frankly, it was a bit of a miracle that all the food was finished (and to be honest, we couldn’t finish the bread!). When we were asked whether we wanted desert, everyone (except Henry 😛 ) clutched their full, full stomachs by way of response. We’d definitely had our fill 🙂 , and were ready to go out to brave the cold again [Mariam: Speak for yourself!]

Beyond the food, Riaz has a unique sense of décor. In general the place is cozy and simple, But then, Riaz’s walls are adorned with collages displaying life in Afghanistan. It was an interesting sight to see for people like us who have never visited the country. It certainly inspired no small amount of curiosity on our part.

 

Any which way, we liked this place a lot. We’re coming back! If you like authentic Afghan food, you should give this place a try!

Where to find Riaz Kabab
Address: 2369 Boulevard Curé-Labelle, Laval, QC H7T 1R3
Phone: (450) 688-1919

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