We wrote about and photographed this Pakistani stall near Kuala Lumpur's Masjid Jamek last fall for KLue magazine. We met Osman, its shy but very sweet owner, at his Deepvali punjabi sweets stall in Brickfields way back in 2005, but it took us another year to find our way to his Pakistani savories outlet. It's now firmly on our list of favorite downtown KL nosh spots.
On Saturday morning we stopped in to find that Osman is (temporarily, we hope) back in his hometown of Lahore. For now the kitchen is in the capable hands of his serious cousin and a new employee who proved himself deft with a rolling pin, griddle, and spatula and easy to smile for the camera.
This was our first encounter with this kitchen's paratha (we usually go
for its wonderfully chewy naan, and cart home 10 or so additional to pop in
the freezer to boot), which Osman encouraged us to try on our last
visit. The griddled disk placed before me was so hot it burned my fingertips. After a couple painful attempts to tear off a piece I momentarily gave up and leaned over the plate. My head was immediately enveloped in a cloud of
vaporized ghee and toasted wheat.
At around 10:30am a number of dishes had yet to come off the stove, though that mattered little, as our favorite of Osman's specialties was already finished. As I write this I feel an obsession beginning to percolate, an obsession that I'm pretty sure will one day land me in Lahore.
Nihari, a spiced stew of long-simmered meat, is considered a hangover remedy. Osman's version is made with chopped beef, plenty of ghee, and peas. It feels wrong to call a meat dish 'silky', but that's what Osman's nihari is -- earthy, complex, and yes, so unctuous and silky with ghee it glides over the tongue, past the molars, and down the throat with no effort on the diner's part at all. It's incredibly comforting, like a rich and meaty ragu Bolognese. We packed some home, in fact, to toss with pasta.
I don't want to give short shrift to the other dishes. Our chickpea daal sparkled with cinammon and, after few benign moments, stung with chili. We stopped there, with nihari, chickpeas, and paratha. It was only 10:30 in the morning, after all. But we know from past experience that everything made in this kitchen - lamb curry, keema, lentil daal - tastes like the best kind of cooking: homestyle.
Pakistani stall, near the end of Lorong Bunus Dua (Maydin at the corner), off Jalan Masjid Jamek, KL. Look for the bright green kitchen and the tandoor oven. Open from about 900a. Biryani on Friday, nihari on Saturday, haleem on Tuesday.