Pakistan: The Naan is Gaan!

It turns out that there is a local place that we’ve been to a couple time just for drinks and hanging out that has Pakistani cuisine.  Cusbah’s (www.cusbah.com), which translates to “Little Village” is a small place on the corner on H Street in DC.  We’ve been here before with a band squeezed inside that had a fun tuba player (that’s all I remember from that night.)  Tonight we come for the Pakistani cuisine.

Pakistani is a mix of South Asia and Northern Indian traditions.  They have many influences from these areas but are unique in their own right.  We started with an appetizer called Pakora, a vegetable fritter.  Pakora comes from South Asia and is popular around the area.  They were crunchy and fried well, coming with a few dipping sauces: a mint chutney (on left) and a tamarind chutney( on right).  Both were refreshing and went well with the dish.

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this is the only picture without Bridget putting her hand in

For dinner we both got a couple of dishes that are Pakistani traditional. Bridget ordered the Peshwari Chana Masala dish.  A very popular dish in Pakistan and India areas.  Peshwari is chick peas that are slowly simmered in tomatoes and onions, with tons of spices. Spices consisting of tumeric, cardamom, and chiles.

I went and ordered the Biryani, a fried rice with lamb.  Biryani is very popular in Pakistan and has so much flavor.  It is basically frying basmati rice with lamb, cooked with so many different spices.  Spices mostly consisting of nutmeg, pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander, mint, ginger, onions and garlic.  The Biryani was served with a side of Raita, a cucumber flavored yogurt sauce.

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Top right is the Peshwari. Bottom is the Biryani. Bottom left is the Raita sauce.

To go with this meal we ordered Naan of course, which made its way to our table way after the food was served.  We waited patiently (not very well) with the food in front of us for the garlic naan to make its way out.   When it did it was well worth the wait and it was eaten quickly.

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I couldn’t leave without getting a taste of Pakistani dessert since I know how close related they are to Indian, which are all delicious.  I skipped right over the rice pudding, as this is not exactly a friend to me.  I decided to order the Gulab Jamon, something Bridget wanted to stay away from. Gulab Jamon is sweet milk dumplings covered in warm syrup.  They were heavenly in my mouth and were an amazing treat.

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I always thought Pakistani food was the same as Indian but there is a definitely a difference and Pakistani has their own unique flavors.  The spices they use and the way it is cooked gives it a different flavor than Indian food.  Cusbah’s was a great place to find this out and I look forward to another trip across the Indian border to Pakistan.

-Matt

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