Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Halwa, Poori, Nihari and Why I Dislike Riyadh the most!

It’s one of those days when the ‘Desi’ in me is missing Dubai a lot. You might wonder what’s the connection between Desi and Dubai? Well it’s just that ever since I’ve moved to Riyadh I’ve been desperately searching for a Pakistani restaurant that serves the best Halwa Poori and Nihari. But rather sadly even after being here for 2+ years  I haven’t seen a single decent Pakistani restaurant open up that would serve this yummy (and extremely fattening and filling) breakfast delicacy in Riyadh. Now if anyone in Riyadh is vouching for that Al Hamra Restaurant located in the Hara area of Riyadh as a possible alternative, I’m afraid that shoddy place, not to mention the below average taste, simply doesn’t count. On the other hand just about 600 miles away from here, in Dubai the most mouth-watering, sense- swirling ‘desi’ breakfast is served every Friday.

It is my heartfelt recommendation to anyone visiting Dubai, and who craves for the occasional Halwa Poori and Nihari like me, to PLEASE TRY the following restaurants in Dubai, infact you know what, just don’t leave Dubai without trying them. Now if you’re from Lahore you might argue that it simply cannot match the Lahori breakfast flava, but trust me my Lahori husband has even given it a 9/10 for the authentic taste. And the foodie that he is, I dare not doubt his opinion. So here goes: the best spots to have a filling ‘Desi-Style’ breakfast and Nihari with your family:  

Kabab BQ
On our recent trip to Dubai in February we discovered another newly opened yet fabulous restaurant with lovely decor serving our most-loved traditional Halwa Poori Breakfast called Kabab BQ. The seating arrangement and the decor is very modern, and simply perfect for a posh Pakistani crowd. My husband’s friends had taken him there on one Friday and when he came back and shared his delicious experience, I decided that the coming Friday we were going there this time (husband’s treat) accompanied by Dubai-based brother (who may I add had no idea of this restaurant) and sister who was visiting from Pakistan.  We were there around 10ish and were surprised to see the restaurant was vacant. I mean literally empty with the waiters anxiously waiting for someone to arrive. As my husband had explained, there was buffet of lip-smacking chaney/choley (chick peas), soft halwa (dessert), desi saag (a variety of spinach), nihari & aroma-rich tea. We quickly got seated and as my husband had mentioned waited for the hot pooris to be served. The best part was as we would finish one set of pooris, the next steaming-hot set would arrive. Last but not the least was when at the end of our breakfast they served hot Jalebis (traditional Pakistani sweet). Usually I don’t like Jalebis so much but even I couldn’t stop myself from having these fresh-out-of-the-wok sweets. Well from my side they get full marks for the service, the food & the decor. It was truly an amazing and unforgettable breakfast experience. Needless to mention, highly recommended to anyone who’s a die-hard fan of having a traditional Pakistani breakfast on a weekend.

P.S- Right next to it is the Maria Bonita Mexican Restaurant which serves great Mexican food. Once we finished with our breakfast at Kabab BQ, I took my 16 month baby girl to see the parrots at Maria Bonita Restaurant. There seated were 2 guys who seem of Indian-Pakistani origin, they were still deciding on what to have, when one of them saw us coming out of Kabab BQ with a hearty smile. He immediately decided to pay Kabab BQ a visit to check it out and emerged 2 mins later only to apologise to the waiter at Maria Bonita saying ‘next time’ and took his friend to have a desi breakfast at Kabab BQ. Needless to say they made the right choice :)

Location:
  •      Umm Al Sheif Street, Jumeirah 3

The location explains why the restaurant was empty. It’s located between Al Wasl Road and Jumeirah road and hence is easy to miss.

Cost per person – AED 39 only
Timing – 9am to 12:30pm for Friday breakfast
Menu: To see what all they offer other than desi breakfast visit this link http://www.24h.ae/kababbq

BBQ Delights
Famous for its open buffet kebabs and traditional Pakistani style menu, this restaurant serves a delicious variety of desi breakfast items such as halwa, chaney, poori, nihari, paaye, etc. only on Friday. Though it’s usually called a Friday Brunch I wouldn’t regard it as one since its starts early in the morning on Friday. Yes! on a Friday 9am (for a desi crowd) is regarded early.

Locations:
  •          Karama, Dubai
  •          JBR, Dubai

 Cost per person – AED 39 only
Timing – 9am to 12:30pm for Friday breakfast

Delhi Restaurant
This restaurant or should I called ‘Nihari Wonder’ should rename themselves as Nihari Restaurant. I mean seriously these guys have been around for nearly 30 year serving by far the best nihari anyone has ever had in Dubai. Never has their taste or the quality of their Nihari ever gone wrong. Having lived all my life in Dubai, eating Nihari from Delhi Restaurant every month without fail was a family tradition. Credit goes to my father (spent 30+ years in Dubai) who being a ardent desi food lover discovered the place with his friends and helped us understand the difference between a average, good, excellent and out-of-this-world Nihari. Need I specify where Delhi Restaurant’s nihari stands?! I still remember how my father used to take a big pot/vessel (enough for atleast 12 servings) with him, and used to get Nihari as take-away from Delhi Restaurant with their yummy nans/bread. When he’d enter home with it, I would scream ‘Ýipppppie Nihari’!!! Proves my love for it, doesn’t it. Oh how I miss those times!

I told my husband that this time we simply cannot miss eating here while in Dubai. In fact I told my husband that by far it will be the best nihari he would’ve had so he was looking forward to it too. And guess what? I was right. My brother took us there on our first night and the place was jam-packed. Thankfully we got seated soon and immediately without even browsing the menu ordered for our favourite item. We also ordered for some malai tikka boti, some seekh kebabs and another bbq item (don’t remember honestly). I simply cannot explain the feeling of my first bite of nihari (after such a loooooonnnnnng time). Surprisingly the other items my brother ordered such as the malai tikka and kebabs etc. were also really delicious. The thing is we never before tried anything except for Nihari from this place so had no clue they served other amazing dishes too. My mouth still waters at the very mention of their nihari. Least said, DO NOT leave Dubai without having this true delicacy from Delhi Restaurant.

Location:
Deira, Dubai
(It’s located in the busiest district of Deira and unfortunately has no parking space available. Despite that people flock to the restaurant even sometimes waiting for 20-30 minutes before they find a parking. Need I say more!)

Well, from the above detailed reviews you can very well imagine why I titled this post as ‘Why I dislike Riyadh the most’.  I just hope and pray that one of these places open up here soon. Anyone listening???


12 comments:

  1. I just drooled over my laptop and I think its going to stop working soon. Luckily, I am heading back home soon-ish so will eat all of this in Pakistan :) I really do pity the people living in the 'first' world, they have NO idea what food really tastes like!

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  2. Oh I bet if they ever tasted a proper nihari, Food Network might hire a Pakistani or a Delhite for a change to host a special programme just on it ;)

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  3. Have you found one yet or the search is still on? There is this "madina resturant" in old sanaiya, it has got the best nihari and pooris in whole town! sadly, its a pure desi and non family restaurant, so you will have to grab the parcel and try it in your home.

    P.S: why is the rate of updating your blog is down to a bare minimum? You're doing good and I think you should update regularly.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Shahid. I've asked my husband about Madina Restaurant and luckily he knows of it. Will definitely try it after Ramadan. I have heard though that Barbeque Delights is opening a branch here in Riyadh so let's see.

      And, thanks for your feedback on the blog in general. Got lots of stories to write about but time usually isn't on my side. Will try my best though.

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  4. Try Barbecue Tonite next time you are in town. Better than BBQ Delites or Lal Qila

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    Replies
    1. Will do for sure. Didn't realise that BBQ Delight and Tonight are 2 different places but now I know thanks to you.

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  7. May i ask you what did you try at Al-Hamra that you didnt like??

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  8. I tried nihari at Al hamra restaurant and firstly it looked like Soup. Nihari is supposed to be thick. Second it was served in cereal bowl. Lastly I got food poisoned. If you want Nihari then so far Hayat Restaurant are little bit better.

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