Subway Morning‘s food guide, Suresh Doss, joins us every week to discuss one of the many great GTA eateries he’s discovered.
This week, I have talked to host Ismaila Alfa about an Afghan restaurant in Mississauga.
Ismaila: So we’re heading to Mississauga this week?
We are. Missisauga is a great food city and we’ve talked about it a number of times on the show. The cuisine is very diverse, it’s a large sprawling city with many corners. Lately, I have noticed that because of the newcomers arriving from Jordan, Syria and Afghanistan over the past few years, we’ve seen many new restaurants that are representing that part of the world.
Particularly the food of Afghanistan.
Ismaila: Which brings us to Afghan Grill House.
This is a restaurant that opened not too long ago. It is tucked away from the main strip of Hurontario, just south of the 401, hidden behind two hotels.
Shazia Akbar and her husband Tamem run the restaurant. They took over the space a few years ago. And they’ve created a menu that pays homage to their home city of Kabul.
Ismaila: Tell me about them.
So they’re both from Kabul and came to Canada about a decade ago. They both said they’ve been cooking their entire adult lives in restaurants back home in Kabul and then in the GTA at other Middle Eastern restaurants over the past five years.
When this space was available in Mississauga, they decided it was time to open their own restaurant. So it’s just the two of them when you visit.
Ismaila: What kind of dishes can you expect at Afghan Grill House?
Tamem and Shazia have built a restaurant on the idea of freshly baked bread, rice and charcoal grilled meats and vegetables. That is the crux of this restaurant.
The best dishes here are composed of a mound of rice and an assortment of grilled proteins. It may sound simple but there is an incredible amount of flavor here.
Ismaila: It sounds simple but what makes it so special?
So the bread for example. Tamem makes the bread daily, the naan-e-Afghani. It is this really long, oval shaped bread dotted with an assortment of seeds.
It’s made to order, so Tamem rolls out the dough, massages it and dresses it and it goes into the high heat oven. When it arrives at the table, it’s been out of the oven for seconds. It’s delightfully fluffy; you can eat just the bread and walk out of the restaurant and be happy.
Ismaila: What about the meat options?
So the best part of this restaurant is the charcoal menu. I mean it’s in the name, Afghan Grill House. There is an assortment of proteins on the menu, dressed in a variety of ways, that are marinated overnight at least in yogurt and spices, then cooked over charcoal.
A few of my favorites are: the sultan kebab, ground meat that is formed into small patties; they’re quite heavily spiced before they’re cooked over the charcoal.
So you get this really tender chunks of meat, wrapped in that naan-e-Afghani.
Also there are a number of chicken kebabs on the menu, tandoori-style marinated in yogurt. And it’s probably my favorite chicken dish because of how to tender the meat is when it comes off the charcoal.
Typically, this style of cubed, grilled chicken can be really dry and the spicing can get lost. But I find that with the way Tamem cooks it over low heat, it’s quite juicy and flavourful. They’re really tender when they arrive on your plate.
Ismaila: It must smell amazing in this place with the charcoal going… You mentioned the bread earlier, is the rice just as good?
I can’t talk about an Afghan restaurant without mentioning the challaw. The rice here is fantastic on its own. Long grain rice that is cooked with black pepper, cardamom and just a little cumin. I would happily say this is my favorite take on Afghan challaw.
And one more thing, Ismaila—the hot sauce.
Ismaila: And the hot sauce is good too …
It may seem a little strange to hype up the hot sauce at a restaurant. But Shazia makes a really fantastic chunky chili sauce with tomatoes and two types of peppers. I don’t know what else is in there.
But I can tell you that I have never left the restaurant without asking her if I can buy a bottle. So that is my recommendation to you.