July 2012 Update -KABUL NIGHT HAS CLOSED. A SIGN IN THE WINDOW SAYS IT WILL REOPEN BUT NO DATE IS GIVEN
I’ll venture to say that the vast majority of Schenectadians are unfamiliar with the cuisine of Afghanistan. I know I certainly wasn’t when I saw an ad for Kabul Night one night before the movie at Proctor’s. I was intrigued.
Kabul Night sits on the corner of Union St. and North Broadway. There is a good sized parking lot next to the building for restaurant patrons.
The building is painted a cerulean blue and gold café curtains hang in the large front windows. When I spotted a camel peering at me over those curtains, I knew this would be my kind of place.
Step through the entranceway and you are transported to an exotic land. Gold tablecloths and slipcovers over the café chairs give the room a sumptuous feel. The walls are painted the same soothing blue and are adorned with artifacts from Afghanistan. An elaborate child’s festival costume trimmed with extensive beadwork, a small hand loom with the beginnings of a colorful wool blanket, and some maps and photographs set the scene.
I was greeted warmly by the owner, Karima Rasoully, and made myself comfortable while I perused the menu. Being completely unfamiliar with the food, I decided to sample a variety of items. Some of the names and descriptions of the dishes sounded like Indian cuisine and some more Middle Eastern. I was to discover that just like Afghanistan is geographically located between those two areas, so the food has elements of both.
This first visit was at dinnertime so I started with an appetizer.(All $5.50) Samosas, pakoras and hummus I had had before so I chose the Kadu Borani, slices of sautéed butternut squash topped with a yogurt sauce.
For all of you who say you don’t like butternut squash, you must give this a try as it is prepared unlike the mushy purees you are usually served in restaurants – or at home, for that matter. Kadu Borani is a firm ring of squash which is sweet and savory at the same time. Delicious.
Entrees, which are served with salad, rice & bread range from $11.95 for the vegetarian choices, spinach, eggplant, okra, falafel to $19.95 for the “Manager’s Special #1 Combo”.
I chose the aforementioned combo and feasted on Kabob Murgh, chicken breast marinated in turmeric, garlic and cayenne, Kofta Kabob, seasoned ground beef mixed with onion and cooked on a skewer and Chopan Kabob, 2 lamb chops marinated in ground coriander, garlic and pepper.
The lamb chops were grilled to perfection and were the best I’ve ever had anywhere. Both the chicken and the beef were moist, tender and flavorful.
The salad consisted of fresh, crispy romaine lettuce, thinly sliced cucumber and tomato drizzled with a refreshing house made yogurt dressing.
This first meal had me hooked and I have returned to Kabul Night many times in the last 2 years. Tuesday – Friday they offer a lunch buffet from 11:30 am – 2:00 pm ($7.95 Tue-Thu and $9.95 on Fri). This is the perfect time to sample this delicious and healthy cuisine.
On a recent Tuesday the buffet items included:
Fresh salad with yogurt dressing
Spinach cooked with onions
Okra (NOT SLIMEY) with onions, tomatoes and peppers
Eggplant in tomatoes sauce
Potatoes in broth
Chicken Korma – cooked with onions and spices
Afghan bread – a square bread, a bit stiffer than foccacia
Rice pudding and baklava for dessert
On Friday, there is an additional meat choice and in the cooler months they serve a wonderful chicken soup. Everything is made FRESH.
A note about the spiciness. This is not a hot spicy cuisine. No chili peppers here. The spices in Afghan cooking are about enhancing the savoriness of the food, not burning your tongue off. Also, except for the yogurt dressing, no dairy is used in the sauces like in Indian food so the curry and Korma dishes are more a broth than a cream sauce. The dishes are not oily or fatty but very light.
If the cuisine sounds intriguing to you but you just know the kids wouldn’t touch it, have no fear. There are Kids selections of a grilled chicken sandwich or burger with fries. ($5.50)
Beverage offerings are green, black and chai teas, coffee, sodas and juice. Kabul Night doesn’t currently have a liquor license – it’s coming – but you are welcome to bring your own bottle.
All dishes are available for take out (even the buffet lunch) and they also do catering.
For a delicious, healthy, one of a kind in Schenectady dining experience, Kabul Night is the place to go.
Kabul Night 402 Union St. Schenectady, NY 518-346-0202
Hours: Tues – Fri 11:30 am – 2:00 pm 4:30 – 9:00 pm
Sat 12:00 – 9:00 pm