The Mall Shopping Centre, Ring Rd Westlands, Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya
Air Conditioning, Breakfast/Brunch, Credit Cards, Delivery, Dinner, Doing Business, Entertaining Clients, Families with children, Free Wifi, Large Groups, Late Night, Lunch, Takeout
This unpretentious yet white-tablecloth eatery on the mezzanine floor of an otherwise unremarkable shopping center in suburban Nairobi features North...
This unpretentious yet white-tablecloth eatery on the mezzanine floor of an otherwise unremarkable shopping center in suburban Nairobi features North Indian frontier cuisine, and does it well enough to consistently attract a significant proportion of diners from this very, very small subset of the Kenyan population (estimated to be fewer than 100,000 in a country of 44 million).
The kitchen is open, so diners in most of the restaurant can watch the bustle of a busy staff. Each cook specializes in a portion of the menu. The man at the left mixed and kneaded naan before slapping it down onto the sides of the tandoor — a cylindrical clay oven typical of the Indian subcontinent. Each piece was peeled off when cooked.
The man at the right deftly juggled hot pads and hot metal as he threaded all kinds of meat onto long skewers and thrust them into the tandoor to grill, then lifted ’em out when ready.
Fascinated, I ordered marinated chicken on a skewer. My waiter cautiously suggested that I probably wouldn’t like it because the result was somewhat dry. He suggested the chicken tikka hamara, which he said I’d like better because of the tasty sauce with lots of fresh, green coriander. So that’s what I had — and I’m glad I did (it turns out to be the house specialty). His suggested additions of basmati rice and a basket of naan were just right.
At Haandi, the masalas (spice mixtures and spicy sauces) are prepared daily. All the dishes are cooked to order, and everything on the menu is created on the premises. For an appetizer, I had the tree tomato lassi, which reminded me that these cool and refreshing yogurt-based Indian drinks are no doubt the origin of today’s popular fruit smoothies. (You may know the tree tomato better as a tomatillo, a staple of Mexican cooking.)
The menu lists lots of vegetarian offerings ranging from 700 to 900 KES, such as dal bukhara and palak paneer. Prawns, red snapper and other seafood are 900 to 1900 KES. Chicken dishes vary from 900 to 1000 KES. My chicken tikka hamara was 1000 KES. There are 15 choices of bread, including tandoor roti.
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