The Three Fishiez – How Lahori Fish Wins

I love writing on a full tummy. It makes me more critical about food. When I’m starved, all food is the same to me and the thought of it makes me happy heh. Right now, I’m full on fish. Fish that I made myself.

While having my home-made fish creation, it struck me how I somehow enjoy Lahori home-made fish a lot more than the other types of fish I’ve tried. Two other fish dishes come to mind that I got the chance to try in the recent past. Yes, I’m critical about food when I’m full but I’m still a little biased towards Lahore. Still, decide for yourself which one of the fish dishes below you’d prefer over the others.

Pla Tod Makham at Lemongrass, Dubai

I had the chance of going out specially for fish with my brother during my visit to Dubai in January. I love fish but am not as big a fan to know of the good places for having fish and my brother made the decision. It was Lemongrass near Lamcy. For a moment I was about to change my mind as Lemongrass was right next to BBQ Delight, a desi restaurant that houses Behari Kabab too but my bro insisted and here I was surrounded by weird fishy smells but in an aesthetically pleasing seating area that made me feel special.

Cutting it short, I ordered the Pla Tod Makham on their Seafood menu (after having some AMAZING Tom Yam soup that had really juicy prawns in it ahhh). I settled for Pla Tod Makham because it was Kingfish. Pakistanis are used to having kingfish a lot. It’s called Surmayee here and is pretty popular among kids too because their ‘fillets’ here usually have just the one big bone in the middle that can be easily pulled out.

My reaction on finishing my fish? I wanted to run away. The tamarind was too, TOO strong and killed any ‘sweet and sour’ taste that I would have expected the fish to have. It was served with boiled veggies that tasted like nothing and were covered by this ball-bearing like fiery green pepper that I DARE you try. I DOUBLE DARE YOU MOTHERF… okay I love Pulp Fiction.

I guess I just ordered the wrong fish. I should have gone for the more subtle Pla Neung Manao which is Red snapper steamed with lemon, chilli and garlic. My bro ordered that. It looked amazing, smelled amazing and TASTED amazing when I tried it. Or maybe it did because I’d just had the worst fish in recent memory. Ahh well. Dh. 44 down the sea heh.

Hammour Fillet with Chips at London Fish & Chips, Ibn Battuta Mall, Dubai

This was during my January visit too during an obscure window-shopping hangout with my bro at Ibn Battuta. We decided to dine at the food court where we could both choose whatever we want to have. He settled for the safer KFC and I decided to try London Fish & Chips. Unfortunately.

I ordered the Hammour Fillet with Chips. I don’t have much to write about it, seriously. It was the blandest fish EVER. And that’s probably an understatement. I’ve never had battered fish that doesn’t taste like any identifiable food. I’ve had better Fish & Chips at Espresso in Lahore! And that’s saying something.

Do NOT try their Hammour. EVER. Go for something else. It’ll probably be better than ANYTHING related to Hammour that this outlet is dealing with. And don’t expect a lot from their chips too.

My Lahori Fried Fish, Lahore

On my last visit to Metro, I bought a few fillets of Queenfish. It’s a tradition in Lahore that one should have fish only during the months that have the letter ‘R’ in them. That leaves May, June, July and August out of the question. There are loads of superstitions surrounding having fish during these months. A post on that later I guess? Damn we’ve made fish R-rated here. =(

Well I decided I’ll have some fish before the R-rated doom hits us and I still have memories of my fish experience in Dubai telling me not to. So I fried the fish myself. I smothered two fillets of queenfish with red-pepper seeds (yes), added some salt and squeezed a lemon over them. That’s it. Then I fried them until they stopped looking like fish fillets. That’s the Lahori way of frying fish. Overcook it until it has no chances of coming back to life heh. And that’s what I did.

I still have the smell of my beautiful fish fillets on my fingers as I type this. It’s wonderful. The red-pepper and lemon were AMAZING. Over-cooked as the fish was, it still tasted pretty amazing with some home-made Choprri hui Roti (buttered Roti. If you don’t know what Roti is, well, umm. Bah.)

That’s my post on my experience with fish. If you’re not a Gora and have had desi fish all your life, do not even TRY something else. You won’t like it. And you’ll end up cursing the fooding places and writing blogs about them.

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The Jalapeno Burger of Lahore

Slurp.

The Jalapeno Burger is not a Lahori thing. Writing about non-Lahori Gora food kind of makes me feel like the pseudo-gora person I’m always speaking out against among friends. You know, the popular term “coconut” comes to mind being applied to the Lahori Goras: Bahir se brown, andar se white. Trying not to turn this into a post on racial-slurs, I’ll just mention that the first reason in my memory that made me go against the Lahori-Goras was when I came across this girl at a wedding, Lahore-born and bred, who went all “OMGWTFBBQ” when she was served the Meethi Chutney that comes with Samosay. That was it for me.

Coming back to the Jalapeno Burger (JB). I’ve tried and tried again to find the best-tasting JB in Lahore. Or to at least find something that could qualify as a JB to an extent. I’ve failed miserably at some places but the good news is that I DID find a JB somewhere that I’d actually go back for.

Roaster’s, somewhere near Home Economics College, Gulberg

I’d heard a lot about Roaster’s. Being part of the Arizona Grill chain, Roaster’s has almost the exact same interior as Arizona Grill. Tables, chairs, knives and forks, everything. But it’s amazing how a place mainly advertised through word-of-mouth as one of  the places to be at for good burgers, I was painfully disappointed when I ordered a JB here. The burger was huge, yes, I’ll give it that, but that’s it. I’m actually lost for words when I think of words to bestow the experience with so I’ll just compare it with a home-made keema sandwich aur hari mirch and end this sad section of the post. Note however, I was able to COUNT the Jalapeno peppers in my burgers. There were about 4 of them. And the bun resembled that of Fresh Inn Bakers, Johar Town.

Arizona Grill, Xinhua Mall, Mian Mahmud Ali Kasuri Road

Shockingly, the mother restaurant or whatever you’d call it, a place mainly famous for its steaks and pastas and seafood served me one of the best JBs ever. Totally unlike its sad daughter, Roaster’s. The bun was made in-house and was actually fresh, the beef was actually shaped into a patty unlike Roaster’s, was cooked perfectly and was thick and juicy, a rare occurrence in the life of a person who has chewed on burnt beef tenderloin at Kings n Queens and paid poop-loads for a keema sandwich. The amount of Jalapeno was just amazing. It added an actual kick and totally made my taste buds scream. The cheese (cheddar) was in sweet abundance and the onions were fresh and not bitter. I have to comment on the tomatoes though. What IS with Lahori Gora restaurants and their chefs’ lack of ability to cut tomatoes right? Arizona Grill, Roaster’s, Espresso, I’ve had tomatoes as thick as battered onion rings. God. All in all, I LOVED the JB at Arizona Grill. I hope the fact that Mehreen Ali Kasana paying for me did not influence my decision.

Hardee’s, M.M. Alam Road, Gulberg

Yes! I HAD to try the JB at Hardee’s again. I know, I’ve had Hardee’s for a huge part of my fat childhood in Dubai, munching on curly fries (no, I refuse to call them Crispy Curls, meh) for hours, diving into a double beef slab from heaven, ahh you get the drift. The mere fact that Hardee’s arrived in town was enough for me to forget all other places offering burgers and just choose Hardee’s over anything. I still decided though to try to make a fair comparison between the JBs at Roaster’s, Arizona and here. Hardee’s, oh godly burger-makers, you win by a mile. A kilometer. By the distance Wasim Akram runs in that cigarette nahi peeta ad. By far, simply put. There is no contest, I realize. I will NOT describe the JB (beef or chicken) at Hardee’s. It will make my post too blasphemous for even my liking. I urge every Lahori trying to develop a JB taste to go and frikkin’ try it. That’s it. And if you don’t order curly fries with that, I’ll request God to save that smelliest, filled-with-battered-tomatoes place for you in Hell.

Keep lovin’ food.

My Mom’s Biryani Recipe

I’ve been searching for a good Chicken Biryani Recipe. Do NOT make fun of me. My obsession with food is enough to sit down and note why the most amazing Biryani ever has been part of my family’s diet for years. Here’s the recipe!

Lahori Biryani

Chicken Biryani


The famous Lahori Biryani does not vary a lot from the world famous Hyderabadi Biryani, but comes with a twist, with the dominant taste of onions and the faint punch of lemon juice. Paired with sweet Zarda, classic Lahori style, this promises to be a feast even when dinner is for two.

Biryani

Ingredients

1 Kg Chicken

1 Commercial Cup Yogurt

1 Tbsp Garlic-ginger paste

4 to 5 Green Chilis (chopped)

1 Tbsp Red Chili Powder

½ Tsp Turmeric Powder

1 Tsp Garam Masala Powder

1 Tbsp White Zeera

1 Tbsp Dhaniya Powder

Salt

A small amount of un-powdered Garam Masala

3 Onions

2 Tomatoes

Juice of 2 lemons

1 Cup Cooking Oil

Cinnamon Stick

700g Rice

Preparation

Place Chicken in a bowl. Add all ingredients into the chicken, except Onions, Tomatoes, Cinnamon and Lemon Juice, and set aside to marinade for 2 hours. The Chicken can be cooked right away, but marinating it ‘brings out the taste’ as they say.

Take one cup of Oil in a large pot. Add 3 chopped Onions and cook till they turn light brown. Add the chicken and marinade mixture and mix. Cook for 10 minutes on high heat. Then add 2 chopped tomatoes and the juice of two lemons. Cover the poet and let it cook on low heat, until chicken is done.

Boil Rice (700g) with 1 Tbsp of salt. Add a stick of Cinnamon when boiling. Do NOT over-cook rice. Drain. Add the cooked rice over the chicken mixture in the pot. Do not mix as yet. Put yellow Zarda color and melted butter on top of the rice, cover the pot with a foiled-up lid (preferably), and let it sit on a very low flame. This process is called Dum. After 10 minutes of Dum, the Biryani is ready.

Zarda

Zarda


Ingredients

500g Rice

300g Sugar

4 cloves of Elaichi

20 Kishmish/Mevas

Almonds (peeled and sliced), as many as you like

Dried coconut slices, as many as you like

1 Tsp Zarda color

1 Cup Oil

Take water in a big pot and add 1 Tsp Zarda color. When water is hot, add Rice and boil until half cooked. By this time, the rice must have turned yellow (Zarda color). Take another pot, add 1 cup Oil and heat. Add Elaichi, Almonds and Mevas. Cook until everything turns light brown. Turn off heat. Add sugar and half a cup of water to the pot. Dissolve sugar by mixing. When sugar is dissolved, add the half-cooked rice and mix. Cover with a foiled-lid and cook on medium heat for 5 min (Dum), mix and leave for Dum on low heat for 5 minutes.

Behari Kabab – Where to go?

Chicken Behari Kabab

My biggest food-addiction during my 8 years in Lahore: Behari Kabab. I know, I know, the Behari is not new to Pakistani taste-buds and has been one of the most popular indulgences in Karachi but Lahore has seen a recent rise in the Behari’s popularity.

It’s well-known among food circles how Lahoris are crazy about chicken and coming up with a chicken version of the famous Behari kabab was no biggie at all. Noticing the Behari not being an easily available BBQ dish in Lahore however, I decided to take the responsibility to find and try the melt-in-your-mouth delicacy at three totally different places. Let’s jump to the point. If YOU want to have the BEST Behari Kabab in Lahore, or just Behari Kabab ahh hell, these are the places to visit IN ORDER OF AMAZINGNESS.

Hot n Spicy, DHA

BBQ Tonight, Gulberg

The Paratha Roll Area, Liberty

Amazingly, BBQ Tonight is number 2 on my list. Nothing, NOTHING beats the amazing Behari Kabab being offered at this tiny little cafe/restaurant in DHA near Jaidi Paan Shop. The place is cheaper than BBQ Tonight (Rs. 210 for Beef, Rs. 280 for Chicken) and has friendlier service and the most amazing puri parathay. If you’re not into ‘fine-dining’ and take-away does it for you, Hot n Spicy is the place. BBQ Tonight is pretty okay for  a nice long lunch and dinner in an air-conditioned environment. But that still doesn’t make up for the consistently dry Behari they’ve been serving me at least.

The Paratha Roll place has the same prices for Behari as Hot n Spicy but the quality of food is just not right. The only decent form of having a Behari there for me was in a Paratha Roll form (the Beef Behari Paratha Roll for Rs. 75). Without the chutnee though.

Try the places out people. Comment here if you find better places for Behari Kabab in Lahore or have stuff to say about the places I’ve mentioned. Cheers!

Lahori Khaabay – The First Post.

Here’s to my biggest passion: Lahori Food. This blog has been under process (procrastination) for a long time but there couldn’t have been a better time to start writing on it than now,  as I recover from an infection that forbids me to eat out in Lahore.

This is what this blog will be about: My experiences while eating out in Lahore regardless of whether the food is Lahori or not. And for Goras who don’t know what “Khulla khaata, nanga nahaata” means, it means, well, eating well and taking nude showers. The Lahori way.

Slurp.