Middle Eastern Food
I love Middle Eastern food, and one of my favorite Chicago discoveries is Kabul House, a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant. An Afghan kabob house, it draws on the cuisines of India, Persia, the Mediterranean and China.
Afghanistan is located in Central Asia, between the Indian Subcontinent, Iran and the former Soviet Union. Although Middle Eastern restaurants are common in the US, Afghan restaurants are relatively rare. Kabul House originated in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, IL. It’s opening in September of 2001 coincided with increased awareness of the country by American audiences. Delicious food and increased curiosity about Afghan culture have brought Kabul House a loyal following. A recent relocation now finds them in a beautiful space in the neighboring college town of Evanston.
I adore vegetables. Despite Kabul House being an Afghan Kabob House, it’s the vegetarian dishes that draw me back. At lunch, it’s the lighter side of the menu that tempts me. Aushak, a vegetarian dumpling is a popular lunch/appetizer. The dumplings are filled with scallions and leeks, I like them topped with yogurt – mint sauce. For bigger appetites, the dumplings are also available with a tomato – meat sauce.
The Vegetarian Platter is one of favorite dishes. It contains an array of baby pumpkin, eggplant, spinach and cauliflower, each cooked in its own spices. It comes with a side dish of Afghan rice, fluffy basmati topped with raisins and julienned carrots. The vegetables are also available individually. Nevertheless I like the platter because it is my chance to enjoy a variety of vegetables my family won’t eat. The sweet pumpkin is addictive. I also find the eggplant irresistible.
Kabul House serves organic meats and poultry sourced from sustainable farms. The selection of traditional beef, lamb and chicken kabobs is extensive and even includes filet mignon, and rack of lamb. I can find traditional kabobs in Greek and Middle Eastern restaurants throughout the Chicago. When I go to Kabul House, I choose a more unique dish. Recently I tried the Spicy Chicken Tikka kabob. The dish was as complex and spicy as any I’ve had in an Indian restaurant. Still, the Chicken Tikka was subtly different, not as creamy and more lightly sauced than Indian versions of the dish. Kabobs at Kabul House also include a choice of rice: Afghan (carrot-raisin,) Dill Lime, or White Saffron.
Kabul House is unremarkable from the outside. The restaurant is quite different. Inside it’s s a colonial cafe with large windows looking out on adjacent park. I find Kabul House a tranquil, upscale oasis in an area otherwise populated by fast-casual dining options.
If you want more ideas for culinary exploration around Chicago read my posts: Possibly the Best Mexican Restaurant in Chicago and Why You Need to Try Chicago’s Amazing Mango Pickle.