Today is the fifth anniversary of Tamarind and Thyme. What a great five years it’s been and thank you all for still reading! The past year has been particularly busy what with balancing work, fun and the blog: filming an online commercial, a belated birthday trip to Vienna, being shocked by prices in Zürich, seeing beautiful Innsbruck, a work trip to Toronto, a shellfish journey in West Sweden, a Christmas trip to Gothenburg, a holiday in Hong Kong, a work trip to Orlando, Barcelona at Easter, a date with a Swedish chef. And then there’s all the usual cooking and eating in London in between!
Anyway, onto the post at hand. A month or two ago, I dragged Blai up to the wilds of Harrow and Wealdstone (hooray for the overground!) to try an Afghan restaurant by the name of Masa. Its grubby location gave no hint of what lay inside – a big square room filled with lots of heavy wooden furniture. It wasn’t fancy but there was something rather imposing about it all. However strangely grand it may have seemed, it was empty that Sunday lunchtime but a few takeaway orders were filled while we were there. We grabbed a sunnier table by the window and proceeded to order.
A starter of Grill Aubergine (grilled aubergine, garlic, walnut, thick yoghurt) (£3.50) turned out to be a dip and was served with a freshly baked naan bread that would have come with our mains but got brought forward so we didn’t have to eat our starter with a spoon. The smoky aubergine was intensely garlicky, in a good way, and the chopped walnuts added a lovely textural contrast.
The naan was delicious and soft – do eat it while it’s hot though as it hardens unappetisingly as it cools.
For mains, we skipped the usual grilled meats (kebabs and the like) to try Afghan dishes that aren’t as easy to find in London. First there was Mantoo (steamed pasta filled with mince, onion and herbs, served with special sauce) (£6.95). These dumplings were lukewarm but extremely tasty with their meaty filling. The special sauce seemed to consist of yoghurt and a mild chilli oil with even more minced meat. We scooped up the extra special sauce with what bread we had leftover.
We also shared a Qabili Palow (rice, carrots, raisins with chunk of lamb meat, served with salad and naan) (£7.95).
The photo doesn’t seem to convey the size of this beast – it was a massive pile of spiced rice concealing a braised lamb shank. This was the star of our meal. The rice was absolutely gorgeous, cooked in lamb stock and studded with sweet plump raisins and carrot shreds. The lamb was plain and yet still tasty and not at all overly gamey as some lamb can be. On the side, we also had a salad and some of the best lentils I’d had in a long time; there would have been a naan too but they served that with our starter. Next time, I’d order another of that lentil dish all by itself. Try as we might, we were unable to finish such a generous portion.
Our total (with two soft drinks) came to about £25 and we carried home the leftover palow. Service was a bit distracted (by the Simpsons being on the large screen telly above our table) but fine. When we left, the most gigantic platter of food was brought over to a family of three next to us and I’m keen to find out what it was they had!
And if just the restaurant can’t get you up north to Harrow, you might be interested to know that Doki Limited, a shop specialising in Japanese tableware, is located about a 10 minute walk away from the restaurant. This shop was originally based in Oriental City before moving to Pacific Plaza and now, well, looks more permanently located here.
24-26 Headstone Drive
Harrow HA3 5QH