“We don’t use cream in our cooking”, said Furqan Ali the minute he handed us the menu. “It’s going to be spicy”, he adds. That was music to our ears. We were at Lahori Gate, a Pakistani restaurant in the quiet suburb of Weetangera.
We parked in front of the restaurant and the moment we alighted from our vehicle, a glorious aroma of oven (tandoor) cooked meat and baked bread hit us. We knew right then and there that Lahori Gate was going to be a treat.
Comparing Pakistani cuisine to North Indian cuisine is like comparing apples to oranges, if you ask me. They might seem familiar, as similar as Chinese or Singaporean Chinese cuisine, but are they really alike? Incorporating cooking styles from Iran, Afghanistan and India, Pakistani cuisine is a unique mix of complex flavours that uses a generous sprinkling of nutmeg, black pepper and chilli powder.
While most dishes are often eaten with different types of breads like tawa roti, naan or kulcha, we enjoy eating Pakistani cuisine with rice too. Pakistani dishes are known for spicy flavours and the liberal usage of oil, making for a richer meal.
As you waft through the menu, you will find many authentic dishes like Chicken Karahi, Lamb Paye, Beef Nihari and Lahori Charga just to name a few. The restaurant does not use any food colouring or MSG either. Lahori Gate is a family establishment with Furqan attending to customers while his wife, Zara creates magic in the kitchen.
On a wintry night last week, we had Fish Masala, Chicken Haleem, Goat Vandalo and Bhindi Gosht (Okra cooked with lamb). Haleem, a mix of meat, spices and pulses that is slow cooked up to eight hours is a thick yellow stew served with thinly sliced ginger, lemon and chopped coriander leaves. Oh my, it was delightfully comforting. It’s going to be my new comfort food. I am definitely going back just to have my own serve of Haleem. I am not sharing!
We were at Lahori Gate with our well-travelled American friends who are currently residing in China. They really enjoyed themselves too. It felt as if we were eating home cooked food. There was nothing commercial about the dishes we savoured, it presented well but it tasted of love and some serious cooking skills. We wished we had met Chef Zara Ali, but it was a busy night for the restaurant that had only opened its doors three days prior.
If you’re no stranger to the rich flavours Pakistani cuisine is known for, you may want to indulge in the $20 all you can eat breakfast/brunch buffet every Sunday. What’s on offer? Puri, Naan, Prathay, Beef Nihari, Lamb Paye, Khatay Aloo, Chanay and Halwa! Not sure what these are? Ask us!
Lahori Gate Restaurant is located at 1/4 Weetangera Pl, Weetangera ACT 2614. View their menu here.