Monday, November 23, 2009

Masala Grill and Teahouse

9108 North Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, AR 72205

There are few things more unexciting than hearing of a new Chinese Buffet or Mexican Restaurant opening. But find me something I’ve never had before and you’ve got my undivided attention. So I’m sure you understand why I wanted to be one of the first to try out Little Rock’s first and only Pakistani restaurant. But I also wanted to make sure I could go with my Pakistani friend so that I could be certain I was getting the authentic food. And he admitted that many times, here in the states, the Pakistani restaurants somewhat alter the recipes to cater more to the masses.

When we arrived at Masala Grill and Teahouse, the first thing that strikes you is the wonderful aroma of spices and herbs. The cardamom and curry spices are about the only thing this cuisine has in common with Indian cuisine. Try thinking of Indian turned up to eleven as they said in the movie Spinal Tap. This is full blown, full blast flavor with a little clearing of the sinus thrown in for good measure. How can that not be healthy?

We decided to try the lunch buffet today which consisted of a fresh salad with lemon and three different types of sauces you could eat with it, a standard yogurt with mint and chili peppers, a yogurt with bits of cucumber and a red sweet and sour sauce. The hot foods included Chicken Tika, which is a grilled chicken with lots of spices, kind of a dry rub Pakistani barbeque if you will. We also tried the chicken qorma which was more of a braised chicken with cardamom and other spices. Gram lentils (very good) with strips of long red, skinny chili peppers on top along with your standard mixed vegetables with a spicy curry. None of which were light on the spicy heat.

Served with a wonderful nan (pita bread) and tea, it was a great meal and a successful experiment by any standard. I’m told the real treat is the Sunday brunch and the various kabab rolls, but will have to wait and try that another time. Pait bhurgia, I’m full…


At 5:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plus you have to try some of their Teas (chai). Start with the standard milk tea, the next step up is the spiced (or masala) chai. There are a few green teas, and some Americanized versions (white chocolate tea etc.).
I was told once by an aficionado of Mexican food that where ever you see a bunch of construction workers eat is where you will get authentic Mexican food. So if you see a lot of Pakistanis conglomerate on a restaurant you know it is the real deal.


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