Friday, July 30, 2010

Pamir Kabob House

A friend and former student of mine, Erin, has been recommending Pamir Kabob House to several of us for a couple of years. Once their customer and now a summertime employee of Pamir Kabob House while she finishes her nursing degree, Erin is passionate about good food and knows of what she speaks. She is an amazing baker and chef in her own right, gracing our house with strawberry blueberry jam and fresh bread. All of us who have been lucky enough to eat Erin's food know that she has a discerning palate and appreciates clean and yummy flavors while keeping an eye on presentation and aesthetic.

She was absolutely correct about Pamir Kabob House: it is now my new favorite restaurant in Temecula, Calfornia.

My bestie Rosa came through town today on her way to visit her sister. Rosa is getting to be well-known in the blogosphere as The Catty Critic, the consummate foodie who writes eloquently about her dining experiences and also practices her own recipes on her meat-and-potatoes-loving hubby. Just last night she enjoyed a much-sought-after reservation at one of Chef Ludo Lefebvre's LudoBites. When she had me nearly salivating at her descriptions of his food as we talked at my house, we decided we'd better head to lunch.

I knew Rosa would be the perfect companion to take to Pamir Kabob House. She is a fearless diner with wide experience and an open palate. Sharing a new cuisine with an adventuresome eater is one of life's delights.

She will no doubt write up a much more comprehensive review of our meal, and it was a new experience for me to dine with someone who takes beautiful pictures of our food as it arrives (I've dined with Rosa many times before, but not since she got her new camera---she got some amazing photos today). I really had to restrain myself from digging in, for one thing. We are of the same temperament when it comes to sharing: order a vast selection and taste as much of the menu as possible by sharing all the dishes. This way, we get to know the restaurant quickly.

We began with the appetizer sample platter. It came with sambosa (fried pastry stuffed with ground beef, coriander, and potatoes with yogurt and cilantro sauce), bulaunee (a turnover stuffed with leeks and potatoes), borta (like a baba ganoush---blended eggplant), hummos (hummus), mantu (steamed pasta shells filled with ground beef and topped with peas and yogurt), Nan (an Afghan bread).

A real test of any restaurant for me is how my daughter Katie reacts. This was her first experience with Afghan cuisine, as well, but knowing how she loves strong flavors, I thought she would enjoy it. And she really did. She loved the hummos of course and the nan, and she also devoured her portion of bulaunee. The mantu was to her particular liking as well, and she had some bites of sambosa. Only the borta did she leave relatively untouched.

Then we moved on to a cold cherry blossom tea. Erin recommended this specifically, and now I am craving more. The dominant flavor was cardamom, which I love, so this was definitely a treat. Katie had a few sips of this as well.

For our entrees we ordered: apricot chalow with lamb, served with a sweet and sour basmati rice and a combination platter of beef and chicken tandoori kabobs.

All of the meat was fall-apart tender. I have never been the biggest fan of lamb---until today. My whole relationship to lamb changed forever the moment I put that delicate apricot infused morsel in my mouth. In fact, the apricot chalow with lamb might be one of my new favorite dishes EVER. Katie---who adores meat, our little carnivore---absolutely ravished her chicken and beef pieces and also tried lamb for the first time and liked it. The consistency of the meat was so tender that I had no reservations about giving it to my toddler. Delicious.

Dessert. We had to. We ordered Afghan baghlawa (very similar to baklava---a pastry filled with crushed nuts, primarily pistachios, spices, and honey) and also the ferni (pudding topped with pistachios and spiced generously with cardamom). Rosa seemed to prefer the pudding, and I loved the baghlawa. Katie also tried both, but was feeling too full to eat much. She indicated a stronger liking for the baghlawa, as well.

Our meal was highly satisfactory, and the service was excellent. The owner came to speak with us several times, and our server was attentive and generous with water. They seemed to have a good lunch crowd, and yet we were able to walk right in.

I am absolutely plotting my next return!

Pamir Kabob House
41257 Margarita Road, Suite B101
Temecula, CA 92591

They are right next to Macaroni Grill.