More than Chaat and Puuris.
Sunday mornings always remind me of the old rituals of getting up late, snuggling in bed, Daddy going out to the nearby halwai (sweet maker) to get freshly-made puuris and chholay (chickpeas) with some handmade pickle. Sundays did not feel like Sundays unless we had this weekend breakfast. Sometimes, Daddy would drive to the famous fresco in downtown Karachi to get what were arguably the best puuris in town. Those highly oily, questionable on hygiene, yet extremely tasteful delights were an essential on the weekend.
As we grew up, those society halwais became obsolete and were replaced by better-managed food stalls like Dera at Boat Basin and Sohni Sweets etc. Nonetheless, Sunday was still only Sunday with such desi breakfast beginnings.
This is not limited to Karachi, of course. Lahore, Islamabad, Mumbai – everyone has similar memories and stories, of eateries and favourite breakfasts. Having come to a different country, we seek out similar experiences and emotions. One such experience for me is Kailash Parbat, an Indian vegetarian restaurant that helps transport me to the good old days of desi breakfast Sundays.
I was introduced to Kailash Parbat by friends in my early days in Singapore. We went there on a Sunday morning for a traditional breakfast of chholay and bhatuuray. The surprise addition was the very fresh servings of pani puri! We had various kinds of bhajias there, and of course, the lassi. That was the day I got hooked to that place. It is now a must-do once every month at least, if not more often, either with visiting guests or old friends.
Many of you probably already know about Kailash Parbat, but chances are, that, like us, you probably focused only on their breakfast dishes. So, for this issue of FUCHSIA, a bunch of us girls decided to break from tradition, and review the other selections on the Kailash Parbat menu. And boy, was the exploration well worth its while, or what!
Guess what? It was really difficult not to just order our usual favourites; we had to hold ourselves back! But we had a mission, and we stuck to it. Going at lunch time helped, as we could smell and see the delicious Vegetarian dishes emerging endlessly from the kitchen onto the tables around us. Despite it being a weekday, the restaurant was crowded.
The choices were ample, and arranged by region, from Punjab to Sindh, and South to North. You can try various things at a time. After some deliberation, we had decided.
We usually have chicken or beef koftas, so to have our koftas in vegetarian form, we didn’t quite know what to expect. We definitely did not expect them to be to die-for, the way they were! The soft-centred paneer, cheese and mixed vegetable koftas were simply delicious. The gravy was rich, creamy and nicely spiced, with small chunks of cashew nuts in every bite making up a dish filled with different flavours blending perfectly.
Aloo Bhindi Fry
This was a mix of crispy fry okra and potatoes garnished with chatpatta chat masala. The okra was crunchy, crispy, spicy and very flavourful! The potatoes, however, were not very special, and did not blend well with the okra. They reminded us more of French Fries or potatoes wedges.
This was the star selection of the day. A mix of fresh, seasonal vegetables in chatpatta spinach base gravy, garnished with butter, gave it a very natural yet exceptional flavour. It went very well with masala missi roti (a combination of besan with harra masala and cheese). This is something our friends from Punjab would simply love; a true reminder of Punjabi culinary delight.
This was yet another scrumptious dish, in which the gravy was rich and creamy, with fresh paneer. We were told that this dish is made in the tawa to bring out its authentic flavour.
The Hyderabadi Biryani was basically spinach based rice mixed with seasonal vegetables in basmati rice, served with raita, paapad and fresh salad. The spinach flavour overpowered the rice, and honestly, the overall green look of biryani did not appeal much to us. This isn’t necessarily on my list of recommendations.
The delicious gravies were well complemented by the assorted naan basket we ordered, being a mix of haryali naan, aalu paratha, paneer paratha, butter naan, missi roti and kulcha. So many flavours in one little basket!
The service at Kailash Parbat was good despite the fact that we visited at late lunch hour. The staff was friendly, prompt and very helpful in recommending good dishes. We were a bit loud, girls being girls, and enjoying our late afternoon lunch. We were also the last to leave the restaurant after closing time, but the staff was extremely friendly and not at all irritable like other places have been when we overstay our welcome!
All in all, our non-breakfast experience at Kailash Parbat was wonderful. Now it is not just a chaat-and-breakfast place, but a place for great meals in general. Our meal came up to about $30 per person, a decent cost considering the food, service and lovely warm experience altogether. The restaurant does not have its own parking, but there is ample public parking space around it. Do look it up on GPS first, though, as it can be a little tricky to spot, nestled in an HDB void-deck next to Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. A must-try, not just for vegetarians, but for meat-lovers willing to give vegetarian a try, as you will find the taste of your favourite taste in a different way.
Kiran Khurram confesses to being a shopaholic and watching Friends almost daily. She is stuck in the ’90s, and likes to believe Pakistan’s cricket team is still doing wonderfully well. Kiran collected twelve years of generalist Human Resource experience. A Master in Public Administration, Kiran plans to return to full-time work once her 7-month-old daughter starts school.
Read more about Kiran in Contributing Writers.