Bringing authentic Pakistani food to St Albans
- Credit: Archant
Anyone else really missing being able to travel, to go on holiday or visit family and friends? We are lucky that we have many different food cultures in Herts, which means at least we can eat our way around the world.
A friend messaged to say: “I know authentic Pakistani food... thanks Mama... and we’ve just had an amazing takeaway from Tavah. The best curry I’ve had in St Albans ever!” With a review like that, I had to try our newest restaurant, which opened just a month ago on Hatfield Road near Morrisons.
A tavah is a cast iron frying pan used by chefs in Pakistan. The restaurant is the brainchild of three friends, Manny Nisar, Rehan Ul Haq and Aman Rahman.
Manny said: “It has long been a dream for the three of us to bring the authentic food we love to our fellow St Albans residents. For years we have had to travel a long way from where we live to just to find this amazing cuisine so with the support and backing of our families, friends and the local community we decided to launch our own restaurant using the motto, ‘Pakistani food with passion’. We have been overwhelmed by the positive reactions and goodwill we have received from everyone who has come along to try our cooking.”
Head chef Imran Kahn has worked in restaurants throughout the Home Counties and went to Pakistan to learn and perfect traditional Pakistani dishes. The short menu focuses on traditional, family recipes including aromatic curries, clay oven breads, grilled and tandoori cooked meats, fish and vegetable dishes. It is a meat-heavy menu, with lots of lamb dishes, including grilled, mutton and chops and you can order a whole lamb, stuffed with rice and vegetables (£250) or a leg of lamb for £60, which would be a showstopper Christmas centrepiece.
We ordered a bhindi gosht, as recommended by Sophia, which was mutton and okra in a rich sauce. Steve thought it was excellent, with complex flavours. As a vegetarian the menu was more limited for me, but I found enough to order. My chana dhal was the best dahl I have tried in a long time, made with split chickpeas, rather than whole, and with so many flavours – very more-ish. The saag paneer contained beautifully cooked paneer although the spinach curry was too cooked for me. The mixed vegetable curry was good, with plenty of variety. Our youngest chose a chicken tikka karahi, which came with strips of pepper. The spices included fenugreek and plenty of chilli, and it is a dry dish, rather than in a sauce, which she enjoyed. Our rice came with flecks of fresh chilli throughout.
As is typical with Pakistani cooking, the food all had a real depth of flavour, with plenty of black pepper and cardamom. A couple of the dishes looked quite oily, which is usual, but they didn’t taste oily.
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We ordered for early Friday evening and it arrived spot on time. The packaging was plastic and foil, with one polystyrene box for the salad, which is not very eco, so I hope they phase those out. The website was clear and easy to use.
The weekend breakfasts sound appealing, with a vegetarian box including chana dahl, sag aloo, vegetables and a bhindi (£5/6) and halva puri with chana masala, aloo turkari, halwa and pooris (£6). It will be lovely to sit in the restaurant in one of the colourful booths, which look great.
Open 12noon-10pm for lunch and dinner every day (except Monday). Breakfast menu is available on the weekends from 9am. A takeaway service is also available (ring 01727 833555). For the menu go to www.tavah.co.uk