Inside: Join me as I introduce you to one of my favorite meals, and to Central Ohio’s FIRST Afghani restaurant! Afghani dumplings, tender kabobs, fluffy rice and the most flavorful sauces. Columbus, you’re going to want to pay attention to this one!
I remember my first taste of Afghani food. I was in middle school, and we were visiting friends in NYC. I hadn’t yet developed the kind of spice tolerance that my mother’s homemade spicy curries demanded, and I generally did my best to avoid all Indian food. And so, when our family friends wanted to take us to a kabob place, and described it like “Indian food, but not spicy” – I wasn’t thrilled about going. Indian food, even the non-spicy kind, wasn’t what I wanted to eat in NYC.
But then I had my first taste of Kabul Kabobs in Flushing, NY. And it started an obsession that I now share with my husband, who had his first taste 15 years ago and has been hooked ever since. Is it weird that we plan extra long layovers whenever we fly out of NYC so that we can run to this restaurant?
See? I was writing about them just a few months ago.
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Do you have that one meal you ate while traveling and it was SO good that you’ve never forgotten it? 🍴 . 15 years ago we went to NYC ✈️ and had afghani style kabobs from Kabul Kabobs and we’ve never forgotten them. Tender morsels of spiced chicken, served on a bed of tasty, fluffy rice 🍚. Accompanied by a spicy green sauce, a calming white sauce, steaming naan and a crisp salad 🥗. It’s a dish that I’ve tried to recreate at home a dozen times and I’ve never come close. So we just make sure to visit every time we’re in the city. #foodnyc #nyc2019 #nycfood
But you see, desperate times call for desperate measures. And outside of Flushing, NY, I honestly didn’t know where else to get my hands on Afghani food. No options in Columbus, or Cleveland, or Cincinnati. I doubt there’s another Afghani restaurant in Ohio, actually.
But now we have one in Columbus and IT IS SO GOOD.
And because I love you, I’ll share this hidden gem with you.
Are You Ready Columbus? Afghani Dumplings Have Arrived!
I recently checked out Kabob Shack in Hilliard with my husband. And it was everything that I love about Afghani food and so much more.
For starters, the restaurant is owned by two rockstar moms, Sakeena and Sheereda. They are just the sweetest people.
The restaurant is set up as counter service – you walk in and place your order at the counter, and then find a seat. It’s casual, clean, and smells delicious as soon as you walk in the door.
Kabob Shack: What To Order
I highly recommend starting with an order of Mantu – an Afghani style potsticker dumpling. Soft wrappers are filled with a seasoned ground beef, and topped with a chickpea curry, yogurt sauce and cilantro.
I don’t know what they season their beef with – but it’s SO flavorful. And their chickpea curry sauce and yogurt just take it to the next level.
I also loved their Bolani appetizer. These are little turnovers filled with potato, green onion and cilantro and reminded me of an Indian samosa. These are served with a cilantro-yogurt sauce.
Go ahead and ask for extra dipping sauce, because it’s so good you’ll probably want to drink it straight out of the cup. (Or maybe that’s just me.)
Ready for the main event? They have so many different kabobs to choose! I tried a variety of kabobs, and while they were all flavorful and delicious, if I had to pick my favorites it would be the Chicken Tikka Kabob and the Chicken Chapli Kabob.
The Chicken Tikka kabob consists of chunks of chicken that have been marinated in yogurt and spices overnight. This process results in an incredibly flavorful and tender dish. The kabobs are served with homemade sauces, salad and Afghani rice.
My next favorite dish is the Chicken Chapli Kabob. When we think of kabobs we often envision hunks of meat. Chapli-style kabobs are different. Made of ground meat, they more closely resemble a hamburger patty. Kabob Shack offers both a chicken and a beef version of the Chapli kabobs. SO GOOD.
(They also have a fusion dish – your choice of Chapli kabob on a hamburger bun, served with fries and, while not authentic, it’s been VERY popular.)
Each order of Chapli kabob comes with two kabobs and is served with sauces, salad and rice.
Also, I need to stop for a minute and tell you about the rice. Afghani-style rice is delicious. I don’t know what they do to get it so soft, fluffy and well-seasoned, but it’s insanely good. I could survive off just plates of this rice mixed with their homemade sauces.
Also on the menu:
- Lamb Shanks
- Whole Chicken Tikka Chicken Legs
- Lamb Chops
- Fried Fish Fillet
- Pita Wraps filled with Chicken or Tikka kabobs
- Afghani Lentil Stew (vegan)
- Afghani Chickpea Stew (vegan)
- Salads with Kabobs (great for all you keto/low carb folks)
- Mango Smoothies
- Doogh (a savory and salty yogurt drink)
Prices are super reasonable, too – dishes start at $4.99 and the portions are large!
And I’m saving the best thing for last – FALOODA!
So I’m going to be honest, when I break down the ingredients you might think it sounds a bit odd. And you would be wrong, because Falooda is freaking delicious! (Also, it might just be me, but I always have to shout FALOODA – I can’t just say it like a normal person, because omg FALOODA!)
So let’s break this down. Falooda is a magical layered drink consisting of chilled, sweet milk, ice cream, red jello, vermicelli, rose infused syrup, slivered almonds and sweet basil seeds.
If you ask my mom, who’s an expert on these things, she would tell you that sweet basil seeds are super healthy for you because they are full of fiber, omega-3s and plant based protein, and so basically, you should drink this for health reasons. Sweet basil seeds are super fun – and remind me of chia seeds. They get plump when they soak up liquid and add a fun texture to the drink.
You guys! We have Afghani food in COLUMBUS now! How lucky are we?!? Go check it out and let me know what you think!
4568 Cemetery Road
Hilliard OH 43026