Chapli Kebab House: Come for the Kebabs, Stay for the Daal
The search for Karachi’s best chapli kebab lands Saba at Chapli Kebab House, where she runs into the daal of her dreams:
As a foodie, I prefer chicken or fish over red meat. I know, I know, the horror of it all. However, I do make exceptions for certain select dishes. Chapli kebabs are definitely on that list. Juicy, moist, succulent, decadent, spicy, delicious chapli kebabs. The perfect meal, in and of itself, with a generous squeeze of lime on top and served with piping hot naans and a cool and soothing mint raita. Please excuse me while I go drool in anticipation.
AN ODE TO CHAPLI KEBAB
Chapli Kebabs are minced kebabs which are cooked on a tawa until they have an amazing crisp and almost charred outer skin, beneath which lies tender succulent, melt-in-your-mouth meat. There is a discrepancy regarding the origin of their name. Some will argue that the name derives from the word “chappal” and is a nod to the fact that the average chapli kebab is around the size of the sole of a chappal. Others argue that it is derived from the Pushto word for flat, “chaprikh”.
Now, purists will argue that the best chapli kebabs in existence are to be found on an obscure road situated in the heart of Peshawar. I am a self-professed food connoisseur, not a historian, and my basic research (Wikipedia) indicates that it is one of the oldest cities in South Asia. I’m assuming that chapli kebabs are a somewhat recent development, i.e. in the last century or so. Since I am more concerned with the food aspect, as opposed to the historical significance, let’s just say that Peshawar is an ancient city with incredible chapli kebabs, ok?
However, we are not in Peshawar so we must be content with locating the best chapli kebab in the burger part of Karachi-town. As always, I have nothing against Saddar or any other part of Karachi, it is simply a matter of convenience. I live in DHA, hence I like my chapli kebab to be available close by.
THE CHAPLI KEBAB HOUSE: NO FRILLS ATTACHED
Chapli Kebab House is located in Tauheed Commercial Area, right off 26th Street. You can tell that there is no fancy lettering, detailed menu, or frills and fancies about this place, which is pretty awesome, in and of itself. Chapli kebabs are the name of the game at The Chapli Kebab House. They are brisk and to the point about the whole affair. I waltzed over to the gentleman manning the tawa and asked for two fat chapli kebabs, along with channay ki daal and naans. I then also requested that I be allowed to take photos. My request was met with a charming shoulder shrug which I interpreted as a gesture to do whatever I want.
Within a short time, two fat, juicy chapli kebabs, packaged with the requisite trappings mentioned above, were handed over and we decided that we simply could not wait! Thus the car was filled with the aroma of fried meat and naan, and we gorged ourselves silly. It was messy eating, to say the least, but it was worth it. The chapli kebab was an epiphany. From the charred outer layer, with that delicious bite to it, and the zing from the lime wedge, leading onto the tender, juicy and flavourful meat within, it was a feast for the senses. The hot, fluffy naans, the raita, it was all coming together, and it was incredible. Until I tried the chanay ki daal.
Right then and there, it was decided that Chapli Kebab House must be renamed to Channay ki Daal House because that daal was unbelievable. Perfectly cooked, with fat tomato slices and chili slivers sprinkled all over, it was spicy, succulent, in short, simply sublime. It takes one heck of a daal to triumph over a chapli kebab but this daal was the real deal, folks! I don’t know how a basic, regular, everyday dish can be transformed into manna from heaven, but these guys know how it’s done!
DAAL DREAM COME TRUE
Needless to say, our trip to Chapli Kebab House was both an unmitigated success and yet, a disaster. No true chapli kebab should lose to the humble daal, yet the chanay ki daal came, saw and conquered. Does this mean the kebabs aren’t worth it? Not at all! The kebabs were amazing. But the daal is perfection. My search for chapli kebabs continues, and may even take me back to Peshawar, where it all began, but my quest for daal is fulfilled!