Afghan Kitchen, to me, is a rather unusual sort of eatery. Tiny as it is and with prepared food well stacked in the glass display fridge, it reminds me of, say, a good sandwich cafe, not quite a restaurant. To add to this, there were multitudes of punters coming in to grab their meal and go. My other bib and I, seated in one of the tables on the ground floor, couldn’t help feeling we were the appendix to this minimalist takeaway scene.
The drinks, called Dogh, tasted sour and salted. They were, basically, yoghurt diluted with cold water, mixed with shredded cucumber and dried mint. Really bizarre…
The meat dishes fared better, which explained why people walked in for their takeaway dinner. Lavand-e-Murgh, chicken pieces in yoghurt, was pleasant. The flavour was straightforward but pleasant. That is, yoghurt plus chicken. There was not much seasoning or herbal and spice infusion going on. The lamb dish, Qurma Subzi Gosht, was a stronger dish. The tender chunks of lamb were stewed with spinach, and if my taste bud wasn’t wrong, with a touch of yoghurt. This seemed a variation of Indian Korma but with less spice. The better thing was that the portion of these two dishes were relatively big. One with a bowl of rice or some bread would have been more than enough for a meal. I got a bit worried as there were two more dishes to arrive!
The vegetable dishes. I ordered Banjon Borani – aubergines with yoghurt – and Borani Kado – pumpkin with yoghurt. Massive dishes of stewed aubergines and chunky pumpkins toppled with yoghurt and chilli oil. I found the combination interesting. Both dishes were half way between a stew and a salad. But, I’m afraid, as far as my preference goes, I liked neither of them. The sour and milky yoghurty flavour hit first but it was quickly followed by the aggressive heat of the chilli oil. The vegetables that had long been cooked lost their natural flavour in the process. There was not much of texture going on either. Just soft and mellow…
That said, I think this has more to do with the cuisine type than the restaurant’s cooking.
And I finished the meal with some Baghlava. Soggy, way too soggy.
I probably ruled myself out of Afghan cuisine based on my experience at Afghan Kitchen. I did not find the food mind-boggling, which I always did when I came across something new for the first time. To me, Afghan dishes weren’t too dissimilar to Indian. I prefer the latter because the flavours leap out. The meal itself was good and good value but if I had to pay service charge for a sandwich-cafe-looking eatery, I’d rather get a takeaway.
My head rating says, “7 out of 10″.
My heart rating says, “4 out of 10″.
35 Islington Green
Tel. 020 7359 8019