Food on sticks – Afghan Master Kebab for Footscray

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Afghan Master Kebab, 131 Nicholson Street, Footscray. Phone: 9396 0201

Team CTS bowls up for the opening party of BigWest an hour after advertised start time and find the whole shebang and everyone involved is pretty much just getting over the rain.

What to do?

Eat!

So we adjourn to nearby Nicholson Street and the recently opened Afghan Master Kebab, a sister restaurant to the popular eatery of the same name in Sunshine.

 

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Sister Restaurant?

More like identical twins.

The menu line-up (see below) appears to be the same, save for the addition of such stuff as fish and chips.

Mind you, the Footscray edition is done out in perfectly fine and plain cafe style that in no way matches the flamboyant interior found up in Sunshine!

 

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Three of us choose the mix kebab ($13.99) and a delight it is.

Four skewers – two of superbly juicy chicken and one each of the minced kebab kobida lamb and the diced lamb cubes of tikka kebab.

They’re all wonderful.

Elsewhere around town, in restaurants that vary from Greek and Turkish to barbecue, it’s easily possible to pay significantly more for meat that is not so fabulous.

As in Sunshine, acceptable yet largely superfluous salad bits and two dipping sauces accompany.

The chilli and mint number is a doozy while, here, the yogurt dip seems a bit more tangy and has a richer dairy flavour.

 

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Our meals come with heaps of the wonderful Afghan Master Kebab bread – a bit like naan but chewier and just right slathered in the sauces.

 

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After a slightly underwhelming experience with chargrilled chook earlier in the week, it’s a giddy pleasure to inhale the Master Kebab half chicken ($14.99).

A bit pricier … but THIS is charcoal grilled chicken.

 

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On an earlier visit, I’d tried the chicken qorma ($12), one of a handful on non-grill offerings on the menu.

It’s nice enough, mildly seasoned and of generous serve.

But if anything, it serves only to reinforce the notion that food on sticks is the way to go here.

 

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New Afghani in Sunshine

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Afghan Shaheen, 231 Hampshire Road, Sunshine.

The success of Afghan Master Kebab in Sunshine has seemingly inspired others to try their luck with likeminded eateries.

Further afield, in Fooscray, Kebab Surra has made its mark.

In Sunshine, it appears there will be three new kids on the block.

One, already open, is situated in the food court at Sunshine Plaza and yet to be investigated.

Another, on the wider bit of Hampshire Road, still has newspapered windows.

Afghan Shaheen is up and running on the narrower part of Hampshire, heading towards the station.

 

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It’s done out in cheerful cafe style with ornate and shiny furniture.

It’s an Afghani eatery with a few twists thrown in.

You’ll find the chargrilled meats that are the principal reason of the much-love for the already established places.

As well, though, the menu (see below) features a longish list of straight-up Indian dishes and even an Indo-Chinese section.

Additionally, Afghan Shaheen is big on baking.

 

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One display contains a glistening range of Indian-style sweet treats that go for $18 a kilogram.

 

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Another cabinet displays many biscuits that look just like Italian-style biscotti.

I’m told, however, that they really are Afghani!

Rest assured, though, they contain heaps of butter.

They sell for a terrific $16 a kilogram – I’m surprised how many I get for $7.

A bowl namakpura (top photograph) – cumin-seasoned strips of deep-fried pastry – are brought without being ordered.

Playing the same sort of teasing role as papadums, they’re yummy.

 

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Lamb kebab ($13.99) has superb chargrilled meat of high quality – the de-skewered chunks shown here are only half of what is served.

The bread is good but unlike either regular naan or the more chewy, crusty bread delivered at Afghan Master Kebab or Kebab Surra.

 

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What I first mistakenly take to be some kind of soup turns out to be an excellent mint dipping sauce – a vinegary version of the pale green version often served.

It’s piquant and delicious.

 

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Curry and rice for $13.99 doesn’t sound like such a crash-hot deal but qabuli palaw is excellent.

The same, good bread.

The same salad bits

Fluffy white rice studded with moist currants and festooned with cooked, tender and sweet carrot strands.

The lamb “qorma” itself is mildly spiced but as deep in flavour as it is deep in brown.

The lamb is of the same high quality and tenderness as found in the kebab serving.

With its many bits and pieces, this $15 dish could easily suffice as a meal for two.

 

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Meal of the week No.7: Kebab Surra

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There are three – THREE! – new restaurants of the Afghani/Iranian/Persian persuasion CTS is keen to get cracking on …

In the meantime, Footscray’s own, Kebab Surra, has become a regular since our initial write-up.

I’ve become used to getting a most welcome bowls of lamb/barley soup with my meals here.

That isn’t forthcoming when I order chela kebab ($14) – but that’s OK because what I do get is terrific.

Nice rice.

Two sublimely juicy, meaty skewers of marinated chicken; no such thing as too-dry chook breast meat here!

Tangy yogurt with cucumber and dried mint.

Most excellent fresh bread – like a cross between Turkish bread and naan.

Chewy and excellent.

And – instead of the usual mixed salad – a much more finely diced effort in the Indian style.

No wonder Kebab Surra has become a very firm favourite of Joe.

 

Yes! It IS Afghan kebabs for Footscray!

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The fit-out at 241 Barkly Street, Footscray, is coming along – and there’s a menu up!

The fluorescent lights constituted a photographic nightmare when I stuck my nose in, but you can get the drift …

As you can see, Footscray really is soon to get its first Afghani eating house.

I note with excitement the presence of not only skewered meats but also …

… pulaos, including one with red beans and another with lamb shanks and broad beans, and …

… also the marvellous Afghani dumplings callled mantoo.

Oh boy!

 

 

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Afghan kebabs for Footscray?

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Consider The Sauce pal Juz has alerted us to something interesting happening on Barkly Street – at number 241 to be precise.

My first thought on looking at the pic he sent me was: “Afghanistan!”

As in the sort of kebabs found at Master Afghan Kebab in Sunshine and Rezah Afghan Kebab in Brunswick.

The best I can do with some sleuthing is to discover that Surra is a residential area of Kuwait – which appears to be, perhaps coincidentally, the home of the Afghanistan embassy.

A lunchtime Saturday visit by myself fails to reveal much more – just a couple of blokes working on the windows.

So … not a lot go on.

Yet.

 

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A sharing thing

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Cooking Connections at Yarraville Community Centre, part of the Care To Share Project

CTS missed the first, Vietnamese outing of the Care To Share Project’s Cooking Connections program, but was very happy to make the weekend pairing as host.

Thanks to the Care To Share crew for granting me the opportunity (see link below for more information).

Thanks, too, to the punters – many from the west but more than a few from all over Melbourne.

But most of all, warm thanks to the families and individuals who shared their cooking and food with us.

There will be photos and comments about the food in this post, but really they’re only part of the story …

First up on the Saturday were Jamshid from Afghanistan, Sara from Iran and the family of Ebi, Roya and Maryam, also from Iran.

All these folks are on bridging visas.

 

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Maryam did a fine job of splitting the dates and inserting walnuts in them for the Persian sweet rangenak.

 

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But in the digital age, some things are universal with young folks.

 

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The guests lost no time in leaving their chosen seats to talk to the asylum-seeking cooks.

Jamshid was busy making korme koftas, chicken biryani and Afghan pulao.

 

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Along with a stack of finely chopped greens – spinach, coriander, dill – dried limes went into the ghormeh sabzi prepared by Roya and Ebi.

 

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Jamshid’s lamb meatballs and Afghan pulao were fab …

 

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The ghormeh sabzi – with its greens, potato, lamb and red beans – was piquantly amazing.

 

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Everyone thought so!

 

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The walnut-stuffed dates were drizzled with pan-roasted flour mixed with oil and, finally, coconut for a suave “grown-up” post-meal sweet treat.

 

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On the Sunday, it was time for Rosa, her mum Nigest and niece Betty to present their Ethiopian cuisine.

The guests were split about 50/50 between those who had tried Ethiopian food and injera and those who had not.

The dishes cooked were lamb dishes key wat and tibs, and the cabbage, potato and carrot of key wat.

 

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Having long admired and respected the fresh zing with which our African cooks imbue their salads-on-the-side, I was tickled to discover how one family at least does it – marinating sliced green chillies in lemon juice and using it as a dressing.

 

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Once again, the guests lost no time in getting up close and personal with the cooks and the dishes they were cooking.

 

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For more information on the Care To Share Project, check out their website here and “like” their Facebook page here.

 

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Care To Share?

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The Care To Share project is a fine community initiative that aims to “connect residents with local refugee communities through simple acts of sharing”.

There are three strands to this project started by westerners Bree Anastasi, Danielle Entwistle, Kerry Sanders and Nikii McCoppin – two of them involve food, so naturally CTS pricked its ears up.

The Welcome Table sees “families from the inner west of Melbourne to open their homes and dining tables for one evening to a local refugee individual or family” for the purposes of eating, sharing and conversation.

CTS, on account of the restricted space of our tiny pad, had to beg off from this one – as excellent an idea as it is!

Cooking Conections will see “cooking classes delivered by members of the refugee community to individuals from the inner West” at the Yarraville Community Centre.

Our interest in this aspect of the project was rewarded by a request that we host those events we are able to – a request we were very excited to agree to!

The three Cooking Connection sessions thus far planned are:

Tuesday, June 17, 6-9pm – Vietnamese
Vy Cardona, Vietnamese foodie extraordinaire will take you on a culinary journey – and you’ll learn to make beef pho, rice paper rolls, spring rolls and lotus root salad.

Saturday, June 21, noon- 2.30pm – Afghani and Iranian
Jamshid and friends will share some their stories and some of the staple dishes of their Afghani homeland. Qabli pulao, Afghan biryani and the sweetness of sheer pira may be some of the lunchtime delights.

Sunday, June 22, noon-2.30pm – Ethiopian 
Abdi from Konjo restaurant in Footscray will take your tastebuds on a sub-African journey – their famous kitfo, tibs, injera amongst others –  and hopefully their specially roasted Ethiopian coffee makes an appearance, too!

Consider The Sauce truly will be hosting the last two of those.

There is a maximum capacity of 12 guests for each session.

Tickets cost $48 per person and all ticket monies go towards costs associated with holding the classes. Yours truly and the chefs are volunteering their time.

Visit the Care To Share Project here, or you can go straight to the booking page here.

And you can read the story written by my Star Weekly colleague Benjamin Millar here.

The third aspect of the Care To Share Project is I Hear You, “an art installation comprised of letters, pictures and various story telling mediums contributed by individuals of the local refugee community that are participating in ESL classes”.

It will run at the Footscray Community Arts Centre from Thursday, June 12, to Sunday, June 29.