Wednesday, 12 January 2011

bar-b-q tonight

reshmi kebab (chicken)
i had barely recovered from my post-christmas food coma when my grand dad decided it was time to catch up with the family and eat out. our first dinner out on what was christmas day turned out to be quite disastrous. an understaffed and over-busy kim mun delivered a chinese meal that was far from edible. luckily, the day after we were saved by the choice of local cuisine when we ended up at bar-b-q tonight. 

in karachi, bar-b-q tonight is somewhat of a legend. it has been around since the eighties serving excellent bar-b-q. i am not sure when it opened up in islamabad as i don't live there any more but what i can say is that the choice of place suited me perfectly as i love pakistani barbecue. the smell of meat seared and cooked on charcoal reminds me of the times when my dad would barbecue meat on picnics. the way he'd meticulously watch the coals to make sure that they were red hot and would fan them when they'd lose their bright orange lustre. i recall large joints of chicken being marinated in yoghurt and spices with shallow incisions in the meat to help the flavours get to know each other. 

an assortment of naan, kulcha, roghni naan and roti
since we were a party of eight people an assortment of barbecue and some dhal, vegetables and an assortment of naan, roti and paratha were ordered. i know that i ate some of the fish tikka, some reshmi kebab and some dhal. i also tried mutton ribs for the first time and they were sensational. the meat was so tender it gave way under the fingers in strips and melted in the mouth. and since i love all manner of bread i had the roghni naan, the garlic naan and some of the kulcha naan too. o somehow found space to not only eat all that meat and dhal and naan but also half a paratha as well. barbecue tonights paratha's are made from white flour and are more akin to a puri which is deep fried unlike the paratha's eaten at home that are shallow friend on a griddle. my only complaint was that the food was very salty. but then pakistani people eat a lot of salt. 

having eaten so much i had no space for dessert. however, a round of kheer was ordered for everyone. i am very lucky that o is happy to oblige and eat my share too. the kheer was actually more like 'firni' which was a staple of my childhood summers when my grand father would take us for drives to the old city (gawalmandi) in lahore concluding with 'jotas' [jota or thoothi is the small shallow earthenware that the firni is served in]  and salmon pink coloured kashmiri tea with its deep wrinkle of skin and crown of bashed pistachios. 

firni is best described as kheers cousin. essentially, the difference between the two is that firni is made with ground rice and is smooth whereas in kheer the rice grain remains whole and there is texture. the 'jotas' of my childhood had a small sliver of silver leaf in the centre and sometimes if the leaf hadn't full adhered to the firni it was flutter lightly when you opened the two halves of the jota. bar-b-q tonight's firni was not as good as the one of my childhood in lahore, and i think it was the memory that it brought with it that made it so much more interesting. 

firni ka jota
fazl-e-haq road (embassy road end)| blue area| islamabad

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