Last weekend, Mirna came over to London for a visit, her first since she and her husband cruelly left us all to move to Hong Kong and continuously show us photos of the amazing food they eat. Thanks a lot. Ha! Anyway, she has been sorely missed and something she had been missing from London was the easy access to Indian and Pakistani food. I stepped away from my laptop last Saturday night to take her and another mutual friend Rachel to Southall to feast. We had already chosen Gifto’s Lahore Karahi as our restaurant that night as we’d had a great lunch there a little over a year ago.
Now, I don’t proclaim to be any authority on Pakistani or Indian food but this Punjabi restaurant on the Uxbridge Road serves some pretty delicious grub. That night, it was also the most packed restaurant on the high street, full of families, couples, friends… and a queue at the door. Luckily, we got there just before the queue formed and got the last booth in the place.
We started with a few chaats. A papri chaat (£3.00) with crunchy wafers, chickpeas, potatoes, and the characteristic chaat combination of tamarind and yogurt went down a treat. A Dahi Puri (£3.00) was more of the same but stuffed in crispy hollow balls that we spooned directly into our mouths; any other attempt at eating them and they’d fall apart.
In hindsight though, we probably could have done without the chaats! Everything else we ordered arrived in close succession after, cluttering our table with hot pans and dangerously sizzling hotplates.
The paneer tikka (£4.90) was homemade, had been slathered in a delicious marinade and had been grilled but still was moist.
Seekh kebabs (£2.90) were one of Gifto’s signature dishes and came two to an order and turned out to be the bargain of the century: these were some big kebabs! These minced lamb kebabs were well spiced and seriously tasty.
Karahi chicken (£7.90) was another signature dish and was described as boneless chicken in a spicy masala sauce. Although this was made with breast meat, not exactly my favourite cut, the chicken was surprisingly moist and absolutely fabulous in the spicy tomato based sauce.
Saag paneer (£5.90) was very light and was packed full of fried paneer cubes (again, another signature dish – I think we ordered most of them!).
Their tarka dal (£5.90) was one of our favourites and we cleaned the bowl of its delicious lentil mixture (yup, another signature dish). I would just be happy with a portion of this and some naan. OK, and maybe some paneer tikka.
A plain naan (£1.10), a peshwari naan (£2.00) and a basmati pilau rice (£3.00) were the sides to our meal. The peshwari naan in particular was sweet and nutty and a nice contrast to the spicy curries and grills.
While eating, we noticed that we were the only table who had their naans sliced; all the other tables had their naans brought to them whole. Did they think we were “special”?
Anyway, this looks like a lot of food and I won’t lie, for three people, it was a lot of food. I took home the leftovers and they were enough to feed two of us for lunch the next day. With lassis and all the food above, the total came to about £50 – and really, there was enough food for four to five people. Service was efficient and food comes quite quickly but this isn’t really a surprise when you notice that the open kitchen takes up a whole side of the restaurant. Great food and it’s starting to be one of my favourite places in Southall. Gifto’s isn’t really a place at which you can linger after dinner though, what with the long queues at the door, and so for dessert (Gifto’s does do sweets too), we wandered down the street to Rita’s where we could shoot the breeze over masala teas and rasmalai and gulab jamun. One day, when it’s a little emptier, I’ll stick around for their desserts.
Gifto’s Lahore Karahi
162-164 The Broadway (along Uxbridge Road)