>> Halal Kitchen Cafรฉ | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Halal Kitchen Cafรฉ

EDITOR'S NOTE: An updated version of this article (20 May 2024) is available as part of the Historical section of our Substack page. Check that out here:

In the Parthenia Center, a Northridge shopping plaza that has a branch of India Sweets & Spices as well as Pakistani and Korean restaurants, and the fun margarita-forward Tortilla Inn, the standout might just be the humble Halal Kitchen Cafรฉ. Its small orange script is easy to miss next to its more "extroverted" neighbors.
Walking inside the restaurant, which changed ownership, name, and looks in 2017, does not change many opinions, but the foods are what start raising eyebrows. Come here with plenty of time and patience, allow the woman who runs the place while cooking everything to do her magic, and you will not be disappointed.

There are plenty of eaters in Northridge that require a halal menu, so the offerings here are more than just halal Afghan. Narrow your focus to some key menu items though and you will be very satisfied to learn about this country's delicious cuisine.

It makes sense to start with the chicken Afghani plate ($12.99, below), a dish that has the nation in its name. The marinade and spicing for the moist hunks of chicken are downright perfect, but the best part might just be the bed of rice that it all gets served on.

Rice in Afghanistan is treated like treasure, and that is no different here. These basmati grains are colored by spices and meat stock and sweetened with carrots and raisins. It can and often is eaten on its own as Kabuli palaw, considered the national dish. The plate is served like many of their dishes with house-made hummus, a small fresh salad, and a jolting sour delicious chutney that should be drizzled over just about everything.
A printed sheet at the door announces that prices have been raised a dollar from those shown on the menu board at the back, which itself has dollar additions added. All in all the prices are still fair though, because the quality of ingredients and generous portions are obvious.

While Halal Kitchen Cafรฉ does not have interesting pumpkin-based dishes like bolanee kaddu, you can get your dumpling fix satisfied with their brilliant ashak ($13.99, above). Ashak are usually found as vegetarian items, dumplings stuffed with steamed chives and covered by tomato sauce and yogurt.

Here they also crumble on ground meat, making the dish quite filling and far from an appetizer. Despite its weight, the main taste and aroma that hits you on every bite is the herbaceous-ness of the chives. The smooth yogurt evens out all the complementary flavors.

For furthering your Afghan curiosities, the kitchen also cranks out mantu, an even meatier but still yogurt-smothered dumpling, Pashtun-style chapli kababs, and potato-stuffed bolani.


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