Cafeela Karachi: The Best Shahi Tukray in Town
It is with a great deal of enthusiasm that I am writing this next review. I actually have been angling for this write up for months and I was over the moon when my editor generously acquiesced to my continual requests. So, without further ado, let me wax poetic about Cafeela in Karachi.
Cafeela isn’t frills and glamour, they don’t run exciting social media campaigns, but what they do have is absolutely exquisite food. The menu is seemingly endless, with options for health freaks, picky eaters, and everyone in between. Each day there is a special menu, alongside the standard fare, and it’s not limited to desi cuisine. This is a restaurant where each and every item on the menu has been polished and tweaked to a level approaching artistry. Simple daal is elevated to something exceptional, shahi tukray are saffron-infused and worthy of a king. The chicken ginger strikes the perfect balance between spice and aromatics, the mutton seekh kebabs are enough to even satisfy my “dhaaba or bust” husband. Their Palak Paneer tastes like mana from heaven, with toasted cubes of paneer folded into a warm velvety palak cloak.
If it wasn’t already obvious, I’m a huge fan of Cafeela Karachi and this will be a glowing review. That being said, in order to remove some stink of bias I’ll walk you through my husband’s recent debut visit to my local favorite.
Last Saturday, I decided that I was in no mood to slave over a hot stovetop and so I lovingly suggested that we head over to Cafeela for lunch. My husband was insistent that we head to his new favorite burger joint but I had my toddler on my side and we managed to get our way. Thirty minutes later we were all cozied up in our booth and ready to order. This was my moment to shine, I ordered up all of my favorites: Mutton Seekh Kebabs, Palak Paneer, Fried Daal, Brain Masala, along with an assortment of naans, rice for the kiddo, and shahi tukray for dessert.
When the servers started bringing out our food my husband’s eyes lit up, check out the spread and tell me if you blame him. The service was impeccable, as usual; quiet and efficient. The fat juicy mutton kebabs were an epiphany dripping with flavor and fat. The daal was transcendental, it’s tarka the tarka all tarkas aspire to be. I could go on and on about the palak paneer but I can drive the point home with a single revelation: I hogged the entire bow. When it comes to brain masala, I knew several people get skeeved out by it. It is an acquired taste so if you’re into brain masala already you’ll love the rendition by Cafeela Karachi. The perfect texture and fresh coriander sprinkled on top made this a hot favorite.
Once we’d polished off our main meals it was time for dessert, and not just any dessert. Two slices of deep-fried bread soaked in pale peach, saffron-scented khoya sprinkled with pistachios. Each bite was a sheer sublime pleasure. It was sweet without being nauseatingly so, the texture of the crisp fried bread and toasted nuts juxtaposed with the thick creamy khoya. It blew my mind, and then some.
When I looked over at my often surly husband he was grinning ear to ear. A few mutton kebabs, a dollop of daal and a bite of shahi tukray is the key to my husband’s heart, who knew?