Kabul - A Magic Carpet Ride
Seattle Homes Magazine - May 2003

Long before recent events increased our interest in all things Afghani, I had discovered Kabul, on the fringes of Wallingford, where owner Wali Khairzada has crafted an homage to his homeland. The moment you walk through the door, the warm scent of exotic spices embraces you. Photos of Kabul and its inhabitants line the saffron- and olive-colored walls. A sitar player squats on a handwoven rug, stroking plaintive strains from his instrument.

I always order the Kabul Special, which includes a beef, lamb or chicken kebab plus side dishes. Kebab Murgh arrives on a skewer – knobs of chicken marinated overnight in yogurt, garlic and spices, cooked to tender moistness and redolent of lemon and cumin. Badenjan Borani is a wondrous vegetarian dish – eggplant simmered to a velvety consistency in tomato sauce, then garnished with yogurt and dried mint. Cinnamon-scented basmati rice, Afghani bread (like paper-thin pita) and a refreshing cucumber-and-tomato salad are also included in this bargain-priced ($16) but boldly spiced spread.

Two desserts are mandatory: Firni, white custard flavored with cardamom and rose water and sprinkled with ground pistachios, and Pistachio Rose-Water Ice Cream, a generous bowl of rose-petal-scented vanilla ice cream studded with an impressive number of pistachios. Add a pot of cardamom tea, and I’m on a magic carpet ride.