Dish: Badenjan Chalaw
Restaurant: Afghan Kabob, 4040 W Montrose Ave, Chicago
Price Tag: $7.99
Each time I step foot into Afghan Kabob, I immediately regret spending $20 on the previous evening’s dinner. I question my obsession with trying the newest hot spot on the Chicago Restaurant scene. I even laugh at my dream to eat at The French Laundry, unarguably one of the best culinary experiences in the world.
How does a hole-in-the-wall Afghan restaurant compete with Michelin star restaurants? It starts with the authentic decor: tapestry died with deep red and blues colors, paintings of the beautiful Afghan landscape, and carvings that have survived decades. What outshines everything is the warm smile on the owner’s face when he welcomes you to his restaurant. You can sense that he really cares for each customer as he brings you a warm cup of Afghan vegetable soup to start the meal. But the real reason I keep coming back to Afghan Kabob? Badenjan Chalaw. Thin slices of eggplant (you were probably wondering why this was “slice of the week”) are sauteed until they are melt-in-your-mouth tender and then drizzled in a homemade garlic yogurt sauce. The dish is served on top of basmati rice and topped off with a few pinches of parsley. The perfect bite will be creamy, spicy, and fresh: absolute perfection.
It’s been a week since my lips have had the pleasure of enjoying Badejan Chalaw, and I will probably throw down $30 on a meal elsewhere this week, but I will probably leave that restaurant wondering: Why spend all this money when I could be eating at Afghan Kabob?
Alex Milling is a recent graduate of Northwestern University and is planning on spending the winter discovering more of Chicago’s amazing ethnic restaurants with Terri Shih.