Unbelievably it is one year to the day since Hector’s last visit to The Khyber Restaurant (221 St Andrews Road, Glasgow, G41 1PD). Another year, another Birthday. This evening Marg and Hector were joined by Howard who arrived simultaneously, Tracey, Steve, Juliet and finally Dr. Stan who went to the wrong Restaurant. Dr. Stan was standing outside the New Karahi Palace realising that it was not The Khyber, can we have the real Dr. Stan back please? The Aliens must have finished with him by now.
Amjad has gone off to study we were told by the Owner’s Brother who was standing in after a late staff call off. The welcome was warm, we were not the only diners, a good dozen folk were fed as well as ourselves. One knows that a visit to The Khyber will not be a quick one, the food is cooked with due care, it is not a case of spooning out of the Big Pot and Tweaking.
Starters had to be ordered, the Boti Kebab should be legendary by now. Marinated Lamb served the only way Tikka-style Lamb should be. Howard followed the lead as did Marg. Dr. Stan and Tracey went Seekh whilst Steve and Juliet decided a share of the Special (Mixed) Kebab would suffice.
For the Mains, the Men all went for The Khyber Special Karahi , in effect a Half Kilo of Lamb Stew on-the-bone but with one hell of a Taste Experience. Marg opted for the Chicken equivalent whilst Tracey had the alternative Grand Dish, the Dum Pukh. Juliet did not have The Special, instead the Chicken Peshwari Karahi was her choice. Various Roti (£1.20), Nan Breads and three Boiled Rice would be sufficient accompaniment. Now for the wait. Juliet and Tracey amused themselves with a Cup of Afghani Green Tea. Not as good as the Kashmiri Tea served at Yadgar – was Tracey’s verdict. At least it wasn’t Pink.
Mein Host was kept busy seeing to the other groups and answering the phone. Various Takeaways were dispatched. Plates appeared, cutlery appeared and finally two plates of Salad and Raita. Food soon.
The Starters came a good hour after our arrival. One has to be patient. The Boti Kebab consists of eight, yes eight, Bite-Sized pieces of Beautifully Dark Marinated Lamb. This is Seriously Dry food yet when one starts, well, how could one have resisted? The Lamb was chewy, not suitable for a Curry in my book, though others can have it their way. It is the intensity of the Spicy Kick that makes this. If one goes to the Khyber, have this, even if it is to share. And 8 pieces? More than many places sell in a Main Course. Think of the Pretentious Outlets that give three/four pieces of Chicken Tikka as a Starter, and charge more.
The Seekh Kebab appeared to be standard, and the Special Kebab had Boti, Chicken and Seekh. An extra Seekh Kebab somehow was brought, it was eaten and it was not charged.
I managed to negotiate a gap between The Starters and The Mains. It would have been horrendous had it all come without a time to let The Starters go down. We had come to dine, not just to eat. There was also time to appreciate the Sheldon Mug.
Mein Host brought the large Karahi three at a time from the Kitchen. He looked rightly proud, most of us knew what was coming. Hector’s Special Lamb Karahi was passed along. Marg was shocked to discover she has been given a Half-Kilo of the Chicken version. A Half-Kilo? That is what they serve here, Dear, you know that…
Nobody else was put off by the mass of food. Tracey’s Dum Pukh had a decidedly Green Hue. It was Lamb Chops, but not the Skinny ones normally served in other establishments, these were Well Chunky and numbered Five. I had heard Mein Host explain to two new arrivals that the difference between the Karahi and the Dum Pukh was the latter was cooked without Oil. The evidence manifested itself, the Karahi dishes had a layer of Golden Oil collecting on the base, the Dum Pukh not. Tracey raved about the first bite of Carrot, the Flavours burst through – this was not just cooked, this has been cooking for hours – she concluded. She and Howard swopped a few bits, however, Howard was was too busy to comment.
Marg knew she was beaten before she started, even when she stopped, she started again. A Boti Kebab followed by the Half-Kilo. She ate on and loved it. Juliet was tucking into the Peshwari Chicken, Onion may have featured in this Dish, again from my listening in. If so, the only Dish to do so.
Various Nan of a decent size and Roti were set before us. No Chapattis were available but the Roti were like Big Chapattis, no sign of crispiness. We had ordered four, two came, followed by a third when we realised Howard and Tracey had none. It was never touched. Three portions of Basmati Rice were ordered, more than enough for the six who were sharing.
The Chaps tucked in to the Special Lamb Karahi, no comments necessary, we knew. The Dish as written seven times before looks more like Stew than Curry. The ingredients are a big departure from the Punjabi norm. It is easier to recite what is not in it, the magic is how such diversity of Flavour is achieved. When one begins the Tender Lamb, on-the-bone, makes one concentrate. Not much in the way of Flavour emerges at first, then it makes one sit up. It’s Curry, Jim, but…
Nowhere else serves anything like this. The Bone content is significant and so completing the Dish is within the capabilities of the normal Hungry Chap. Some Mushy Vegetable or three was in there too, then there were the Large Green Chillies – Gosh! Howard, Steve and Dr. Stan concur, a Feast.
If The Khyber was located two blocks further North or South it would be much more accessible. It remains a treat for the population of Pollokshields, and Hector on his Birthday!
£123.90. The basis of this was seven dishes ranging from £12.00 to £14.00. The Drinks Bill was huge, 65p, or thereabouts, for one can of Rubycon Mango.
Meanwhile at the Edward G. Wylie a cask of Hawkshead NZPA was awaiting our arrival. The Friends of Hector had been warming up with 5 Hops and the party was in full swing when we arrived just after 21.00. A safe time to arrive for a Midweek-Bier.
Three Days Later
The leftovers of the Special Chicken Karahi were reheated. Not since a former West African Resident Chef cooked Chicken have I tasted anything like this. The normal Chicken Curry is to me simply Chicken with a Sauce poured over. One could see that the Chicken had been cooked in the Masala, the Taste was Stunning!
This was the last visit… Location, Location, Location…
In the summer of 2016, this venue re-opened as – The Khyber Pass Restaurant, again selling Afghan Cuisine.