When our waiter brought our order of lucknowi kebabs to the table, it didn’t look anything like kebabs. It was flat on the plate, like a thick layer of nearly-burnt masala you find at the bottom of a biryani. The friends I was dining with that night, who recommended we absolutely MUST try Al Afadhil, reassured me that it was the real deal. And so there I was. Mouth-watering and curiosity piqued, waiting for the parathas so I could tuck in.
Al Afadhil Restaurant has been in Sharjah for decades and needs no introduction to many. This small roadside eatery is tucked away behind Al Wahda Street in Industrial Area 1. It’s not just a favourite of the residents there, swarms of people make the long commute to ‘the dark side’ for Al Afadhil’s famous ‘lucknowi experience’, with no regard to the traffic that the Dubai-Sharjah route is notorious for.
That is the power of these kebabs and lassi.
Lucky for me, I dint have to make the trek to Sharjah as the Dubai outpost of Al Afadhil recently opened shop in Karama two or so weeks ago. The one-page menu is basic and no-frills, much like the interiors of the restaurant. You can find Lucknowi kebab, shami and seekh kebab, chicken tikka, korma, kofta curry, dal fry and a subzi – all priced between AED 14-16 each.
The kebabs have the most silky, smooth, paste-like consistency I’ve ever seen before, especially the lucknowi kebab might be some of the best I’ve ever had. All dishes are served with a small bowl of sweet imli chutney (tamarind) to cut through the spice. A slight wave of hand or eye contact with your server and fresh hot parathas keep coming, delicate and perfect to scoop up the meat or gravy.
Finally, the pièce de résistance, something my dining companions were leading up to the entire evening: Al Afadhil’s lassi. It comes in a chilled matka (earthen pot) and tastes like thick yoghurt with sugar. It was the perfect end to our meal, cooling my insides and satiating me much like a dessert would, only this was healthier. Or was it..? I’ve tried to get the recipe off our server on two occasions but it seems to be a closely guarded secret! Oh well, for only AED 6 a pop, I’m happy to make my way there to drink – no, to eat it as often as I fancy.
I walked home that night, stuffed silly, vowing to not eat for the entire week. But lo and behold, there I was again three nights later. With a different group of friends. Because that’s what you do. That is the power of Al Afadhil’s kebabs and lassi. The restaurant gets no points for food presentation or decor but lucky for them, there’s no need to as the food speaks! No, screams happy things.
Are you part of Al Afadhil’s fan club? Do leave us a message if you’ve been, or even if you haven’t, we’d love to hear from you!
LOCATION – Behind Ramee Royal Hotel, on the back side of Al Wasl Ruby building, Karama. Google coordinates here