Khyber Halal Restaurant
4030 N. 24th St.,
Phoenix, 602-954-5290, khyberhalalfoods.com
Got goat? Mohammad Hill Safi and Fahima Hassan do, at their year-old eatery specializing in Pakistani, Indian and Afghani cuisines. Goat – a bit chewy but deeply flavored – is a traditional Pakistani protein, and the goat karahi here is scrumptious, featuring large bone-in hunks of meat tossed with fragrant herbs and spices and a bright curry of tomatoes, onions and green chiles. Tear off bits of fresh tandoori naan, bundle the meat and pop it all in your mouth. Pakistani culture celebrates kebabs, too, and some of the best are found at this saffron yellow and chile red restaurant. Red chicken boti packs serious heat, while green chicken malai boti cools the flames a bit. There are some 15 different kebabs, which makes choosing difficult, so go for the mixed grill platter – four meat or veggie options over a mountain of rice rounded out with chopped vegetables for scooping up soft cradles of naan. Finish on a sweet note with gulag jamun, a sticky cheese dough dumpling glistening in sugar syrup.
1212 E. Apache Blvd.,
Tempe, 480-894-1276, facebook.com/CurryCornerTempe
Owner and native Pakistani Farah Khalid’s eatery isn’t fancy, and her recipes celebrate the charms of Pakistani home cooking rather than that of professional kitchens. But it’s fair to say customers love it, since the restaurant has expanded to a larger space since opening in late 2010. The flavors sing in well-crafted dishes such as saada rice with goat and nehari noor jehan, a soul-warming, fiery stew that’s pure Asian comfort food, spiked with pungent ginger and chiles. Khalid’s goat karahi is full of garlic-laced meat moistened in tomato stew flecked with coriander, while her malai boti nearly melts in the mouth thanks to its rich cream sauce kicked up with jalapeños. Pakistani food favors meat, but non-carnivores can get their fill of veggies with dishes like the simple but satisfying kabli chana, an
aromatic wonder of chickpeas cooked in desi ghee (clarified butter) with vibrant garam masala spices and tamarind.
Jewel of the Crown
7373 E. Scottsdale Mall,
Scottsdale, 480-949-8000, jewelofthecrown.com
It’s hard to believe this gem has been wowing palates since 1986, playing host in its glory days to celebs such as Kim Basinger, Alice Cooper, UB40 and The Rolling Stones. Yet the cooking remains fresh and vibrant, and the concept originally introduced by owners Kusam and Balbir Tuli still seems thrillingly exotic, down to the bread served steaming warm from the oven. One mouthwatering specialty is keema naan, a Pakistani favorite of puffy bread stuffed with minced meat and aromatic spices, then baked to order in a clay oven over mesquite charcoal. It can be filled with any meat – mutton is the Pakistani classic – but more mainstream taste buds will appreciate the tender lamb. You can also get the keema as crispy, deep-fried samosas that are like little pockets of juicy air. Another traditional favorite is chicken or lamb korma, a delectable, delicately spiced stew stocked with marinated boneless chunks of chicken or lamb slow-braised with onion, yogurt, nuts and savory jus.
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