KABUL: An Afghan entrepreneur has opened Kabul’s first restaurant offering traditional Arab cuisine to high-end diners.
Launched on March 1 on the fourth floor of an upmarket shopping center in Afghanistan’s capital, Al-Arab Mandi offers a variety of dishes famous in the Gulf region and beyond, promising authentic flavors and ambience with Arab music, separate dining rooms for families and a place to smoke shisha.
The restaurant’s speciality is mandi, a traditional meat and rice dish with a distinctive blend of spices that originates from the Arabian Peninsula. The owner, Abdul Mujib Rahmat, who is in his early 30s, has brought over a Yemeni chef and imports the spices from the Gulf to ensure that the original taste is preserved.
Most of the staff are Afghans who, like the owner, have spent many years in the Middle East.
“Indirectly, we are offering a means of livelihood for some 250 people,” Rahmat told Arab News.
He said he had invested several hundred thousand dollars in the restaurant, which would have been cheaper elsewhere, but he wanted to offer jobs at home.
“I could have built two restaurants with the same amount of money in Turkey … but thought it would be good to offer an income for people here who are more deserving, regardless of any income for myself, as long as I make ends meet,” he said.
While several Kabul restaurants have Middle Eastern dishes on their menus, Rahmat’s is the first one in the capital focused entirely on Arab cuisine, offering, besides mandi, traditional delicacies such as lamb madfoon, whole lamb, different kebabs and traditional fish dishes.
The restaurant is the latest of the fine dining spots that continue to open in Kabul despite growing political instability and security concerns, as foreign troops based in the country are expected to leave the war-torn country soon.
“We want our customers to feel comfortable, like a prince, to enjoy their time here and forget about the calamities that have been going on here,” the restaurant’s general manager, Elyas Walizada, told Arab News.
Although dining at Al-Arab Mandi is not a cheap experience, customers say it is worth the price.
“I had heard about Arabic food but had not eaten it before,” said one of the diners, lawyer Jawad Turab. “I personally found it delicious and healthier because they use less oil.”
“I think I may come at least once a month and encourage friends and others who can afford it to come here,” he said. “You really can relax and can enjoy the meal.”
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Source: AN-Food and Health
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