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Kabul Grill Kabob & Tea House

Naanwich is one of the specialties at Kabul

Naanwich is one of the specialties at Kabul Grill Kabob & Tea House, Hicksville.
(Nov. 9, 2009) Credit: Joan Reminick

In its snug little Hicksville restaurant, the Shair family serves the cuisine of Afghanistan along with a healthy dose of hospitality.

For starters, try the awshak, tender steamed scallion dumplings with a light, yogurt-enriched sauce. Mantoo are delectable steamed ravioli-like pastries filled with ground beef and blanketed with another yogurt sauce studded with peas and carrots (which, alas, look and taste as though they come from the freezer case). Another interesting appetizer, sambosas, are crisp fried turnovers stuffed with a meat and vegetable mixture. A surprise hit is the salad olviah, a chicken, potato and egg combination with peas and pickles, which sounds pretty unappealing but is actually addictive. Buranee badenjan, cooked sliced eggplant, is savory and fine. Most entrees come with a salad, and, sadly, the salad here is based on iceberg lettuce. The yogurt-like dressing, though, makes it taste better than it looks.

A dish that both tastes and looks wonderful is the zereshk palau, hacked pieces of Cornish hen marinated, skewered and grilled and served atop basmati rice mixed with cooked berries, an alluring combination. Lawand, chicken breast in a rich curried gravy, can be short on chicken. Still, the sauce is marvelous. Grilled tikka kebab, tender and juicy grilled lamb, is a simple dish done well. And chaplee kebab, spicy grilled beef patties with vegetables, makes for another auspicious choice. You'll also like the khoresht-e gheimeh bademjan, a homey beef and tomato stew that should be wonderful on a chilly, rainy day.

You can finish with any number of herbal and leaf teas as well as several coffee drinks (a Kabul mocha is a specialty), but there is no decaffeinated coffee.

Desserts are a mixed experience. Best is the flowery fragrant firnee, a traditional Afghan pudding, and the rice pudding, familiar yet exotic. Much like this pleasant little restaurant.

Added:  1/14/2010

What’s a naanwich?

Not exactly what I imagined when I  first saw the name on the lunch menu of Kabul Grill Kabob & Tea House in Hicksville. Instead of a sandwich on tandoor-baked naan (and wouldn’t that be terrific?), it’s more of a Middle Eastern version of a burrito – a beef or chicken kobideh kebab (spiced skewered grilled ground meat) that's rolled into a thin house-baked pita, along with lettuce, tomato, onion, rice and “special sauce.” The submarine-size foil-wrapped sandwich, plus a soda, costs $7.95.

 The “special sauce” was absent and had to be requested. And the chicken kobideh was pretty dry. But the beef version was likable enough, especially with the addition of the yogurt-based sauce.

What I truly found compelling was the aromatic spiced tea. With tea, the waiter brought some gratis baklava. It was a real treat - in taste and appearance, quite similar to rugalach. Hmm... rugklava? Makes as much sense as "naanwich."

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