Parwana Afghan Restaurant

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine visited Parwana Afghan restaurant in suburban Adelaide and raved about its food.  In an attempt to try something different myself and friends (JT, LT, LL and HH) decided to give this place a go.

Parwana Afghan Restaurant is tucked away in a little unassuming set of buildings on Henley Beach Road...blink and you will miss it...I did!  The restaurant is small, with the walls adorned with family photos (and therefore I assume its is a family run and owned business).  Whilst not much to look at, the atmosphere is warm, friendly and cosy - a great place for family and friends to catch up, have a laugh and enjoy the good food.

A few things to know about Parwana:
1 - Cash only
2 - No alcohol is served on-site.  However, guests are free to bring in their own alcohol (with a corkage fee, approximately $10 per bottle)

I would have to say that this is my first 'middle eastern' dining experience apart from the standard kebabs etc, so I am not overly familiar with middle eastern flavours but will do my best!

Banjan Borani - Eggplant in tomato sauce, with garlic yoghurt dressing and mint - $14
The eggplant slices were thick and not overly soft, with a little bit of bite to it.  Now, I love eggplant so may be a little biased when it comes to this dish.  Having said that, when I told my friend we were going to Parwana one of his 'must have' dishes was the eggplant.  The combination of the slightly tart yoghurt, meaty eggplant and lamb and tomato sauce was great.

Mantu - Steamed dumplings stuffed with carrot and sauteed onion with a tomato lamb sauce garnished with paprika and mint - $20
Two dumplings appear on the menu.  First is the Mantu which are steamed dumplings reminiscent of those that you would typically see at a chinese dumpling house.  Dumpling skin was slightly thicker than I am used to but none the less, still delicious.  Unlike the normal pork dumplings, these were vegetarian with the meat component being provided through the sauce.

Chopan Kebab - Grilled marinated lamb kebab with naan, salata and parwana chutney - $25
The lamb kebab was next on the menu.  This was my least favourite item of the night (friends thought that this was good).  To me, the flavours were there but the lamb was a little too tough for my liking.  The addition of the salad added a fresh element to a potentially heavy dish.  The parwana chutney was also a nice accompaniment with very fresh flavours.  The naan (in my opinion) was not a typical naan bread.  Having said this, I am more used to the indian naan which is slightly thinner and more charred.  The naan provided to us looked store bought and a little thicker - unsure whether this is typical of middle eastern naan as opposed to Indian.

Ashak - Fried dumplings stuffed with chives on a garlic yoghurt base with tomato lamb sauce, paprika and mint - $20
Second dumpling on the menu was the Ashak.  Again, vegetarian filling however the Ashak was a fried alternative, more like a gyoza/potsticker.  Whilst the dumplings look like that would be very oily, they weren't which may indicate that they were quickly shallow fried.  Chive and garlic filling was fresh and flavoursome.

Morgh Kebab - Grilled marinated chicken kebab served with naan, salata and parwana chutney - $23
Second kebab on the menu was the chicken.  I wont go into much detail as this was already described above.  The chicken was cooked well and had very similar flavours to the lamb (in terms of the ingredients added to the meat).

Morgh palaw - Basmati rice baked in chicken broth, cranberries and served with chicken pieces - $20
The rice picked up the flavour of the chicken broth so was very flavoursome.  The use of cranberries was different (I have had something similar with sultanas) and was very subtle.  A good accompaniment to the rest of the dishes. 
Trio of icecreams:  Pesta shiryakh (rose and pistachio icecream), Zanjafil shiryakh (ginger and walnut icecream) and Pistachio and Walnut - no price as shared.  Usually, $8 per serving

Upon completion of the meal, we thought that we would give the dessert ago.  Not knowing what to order the waiter suggested a trio of icecreams.  The Pesta had subtle flavours with pistachio pieces through the icecream adding crunch to the dish.  The ginger in my opinion was the least favourite of the trio.  The ginger taste was very strong but if you like ginger this may appeal to you.  Still a great way to finish the meal in the warm weather. 

Overall, the dining experience was great, sentiments that were shared with my friends.  Corkage along with a total of eight dishes amounted to $170 between five people.  A very cheap and filling meal.  For those of you who have not experienced middle-eastern food, and may be worried about the spice factor (think Indian), give Parwana a go.  It's a safe alternative which may be an in-road into middle-eastern cuisine. 

Ambiance:  4.5/5 - whilst not much to look at, we really enjoyed the atmosphere and family vibe
Service:  3.5/5 - good service, very attentive
Food: 8/10 - few points off for the icecream and lamb

Mirko gives Parwana Afghan Restaurant 16/20 chops on The Chopping Board.

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