Pakistani Via Mississippi
We have never tried Pakistani food, but we love Indian & other Middle Eastern cuisine, so we were more than intrigued & we love ALL cuisine so the decision was easy. The place is in a tiny strip mall type building connected to a gas station. If you have never been to Mississippi, or heck the South even, you might think this is odd. It is not. More of the norm & I am betting the gas station probably served up some nice meat & threes, fried catfish, fried bologna sandwiches or all of the above. The setting might have scared away some less adventurous epicureans, but not us, the intrepid epicureans (hungry too, I might add). On the inside The Shahi House was simple with little, to no atmosphere & I could tell the focus was on the food. The walls were lined with giant photos of most of the dishes they offered & boy, did it all look tasty. A heady aroma wafted out of the kitchen making our stomachs growl. It looked like the place was pretty much set up for take-out, because there were only 4 booths & they serve the food on paper plates.
We started things off with some puff pastries. We had one potato & one chicken. They were comprised of filo dough, with spicy fillings of potato & chicken. Both were excellent, but the potato was our favorite. Paul & Angela also ordered a middle eastern version of a soft taco that we split. Just because I can't remember what it is called in it's native tongue, doesn't mean that it wasn't absolutely delicious. The chicken was spicy but not hot & was accompanied by some fresh cilantro & onions, all in a vessel that was somewhat between a tortilla & naan which was basically fried flour & water. It was served with a yogurt based dipping sauce that added a nice tang to the equation.
The first course sufficiently whet our appetite & left us wanting more, much more. Just in the nic of time our meal was ready. La had the chicken biriyani (pictured to the left) & I had the chicken karahi. The biriyani was was my favorite & La's was the karahi. The biriyani was a spciy chicken dish served amongst some of the best rice I have ever eaten. I couldn't get enough & couldn't keep from getting it all in La's lap too. The karahi was top notch as well. The chicken was stewed in a spicy red sauce full of onions chiles & tomatoes, garnished with a huge jalapeño & a handful of cilantro. I am not the best judge of heat, because I have been eating chiles of all kinds (& recently habaneros) since I was 5 or 6. I could tell this had a good amount of heat to it, because it satisfied both La (she is a chile head too) & my thirst for the fire. Plus everyones noses were running.
I think I can safely say everyone enjoyed their lunch & we definitely enjoyed our first taste of Pakistani. After lunch we headed back north to Memphis for libations, but first we stopped at an Indian grocery in Collierville to stock up some exotic goods. All we bought was a 5 lb. bag of biriyani rice & have already started to experiment with different ways to cook it & plan to try a Persian rice recipe soon. It was a great deal too, for only five dollars.
After perusing their imported goodies we were on the road again. Great Wines was having the final blind taste off in their Summer tasting series so we stopped by to taste & to vote for our favorite wines. I was in the minority & was the only one who liked any of the whites, but it is funny because we came home with the only white I really didn't like, a 2005 Craneford Viognier. The reds were good too & I am anxious to see which wine won. I will post the winners when I get word.
A trip to Mississippi & our culinary horizon has been broadened in one the most unlikely of places. It was a great way to spend a Saturday.