ALL ABOARD

The ex­otic aro­mas and au­then­tic flavours of this sub­ur­ban ke­bab house will take you on a mem­o­rable jour­ney

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - COVER STORY -

The name “Ghan” is a trib­ute to the in­domitable, leather-skinned cameleers who blazed a per­ma­nent trail through the mid­dle of Aus­tralia, long be­fore the rail link that now fer­ries pas­sen­gers in com­fort to the far side of this big lump of an is­land.

These pi­o­neers are also re­mem­bered in the im­agery for The Ghan Ke­bab House, a re­cently ex­panded north­ern sub­urbs eatery that will take you on its own mem­o­rable jour­ney.

While Ade­laide has plenty of ke­bab joints, of vary­ing qual­ity and in­flu­ences, few have the where-am-I-now im­pact of this cap­ti­vat­ing place.

Less than a year ago, The Ghan was a squeezy take­away with a cou­ple of ta­bles crammed at the front. Now that orig­i­nal property is taken up by the kitchen with a door leading to the counter and a new, cav­ernous din­ing room.

Walk through the large slid­ing doors and it takes a mo­ment to get your bear­ings. The ceil­ing and win­dow dec­o­ra­tions are sun­set or­ange. To the right, a car­peted plat­form is set aside where you will of­ten see people sit­ting to feast in their tra­di­tional man­ner. A mix of pic­tures, art­work and a large-screen TV (good for the World Cup) adorn the walls. Rows of black-topped ta­bles are each set with shak­ers of chilli pow­der and a sin­gle red rose.

But if that is at all un­set­tling, the aro­mas waft­ing out of the kitchen will wrap a warm and re­as­sur­ing arm around you, and you can also be guar­an­teed a friendly smile at the counter where you or­der and pay.

Owner/chefs Rahim and Sayed Zadi are broth­ers who grew up in western Pak­istan, near the Afghani bor­der, and learnt to cook in a fam­ily restau­rant.

Their spice reper­toire is distin­guished by the tang of lemony car­damom and sumac, as well as a lovely back­ground flicker of chilli that sneaks up through the meal.

Ke­babs are their bread-and-but­ter but they also turn out a small se­lec­tion of cur­ries and, more no­tably, rice dishes that de­mand reg­u­lar re­turn vis­its.

In the “Quab­uli Palaw”, the long grains laced with grated car­rot and sul­tanas are so delectably ten­der and light that it takes quite a while to get to the gnarly-look­ing stewed lamb knuck­les that sit on top. But they are good, the gelati­nous meat peel­ing eas­ily from the smooth curves of the joint and the cho­rus line of deep-toned spices work­ing well with the dis­tinct lam­bi­ness. Even the plate of “plain” rice that comes as a bed for the ke­babs is fan­tas­tic, with a mix of white and saf­fron-stained grains, and a scat­ter­ing of pome­gran­ate seeds.

The “Afghan Cha­law” pro­vides a trio of dif­fer­ent ke­babs, each stripped from its skewer. Large, juicy pieces of chicken thighs are stained or­ange by a tikka mari­nade with the trade­mark one-two punch of tang and heat. Lamb pieces are equally good but, for mine, the pick of the sticks is the “shami”, a flat log of mince fresh­ened with chopped herbs.

All meals are ac­com­pa­nied by a fris­bee­sized grilled flat­bread, a small salad pepped up with a sprin­kle of sumac and lit­tle dishes of yo­ghurt and chilli sauces, so ev­ery­thing can be rolled or dipped or mopped up how­ever you like.

Dessert will cost no more than a lit­tle loose change. Ras malai is a dumpling of coarse, pa­neer-style cheese sub­merged in a bowl of sweet, creamy milk flavoured with rose­wa­ter. Or stick to baklava or one of the other pas­tries, washed down with black tea brewed with car­damom.

Friendly, af­ford­able and true to its ori­gins, The Ghan is one of the great ar­ray of com­mu­nity restaurant­s with which Ade­laide is blessed. And you won’t need to buy a ticket to get there. MUST TRY Shami kufta with bread, salad and sauce; lamb curry with rice. ALSO CON­SIDER Par­wana, Tor­rensville; Lawash Bak­ery, The­bar­ton

Ja­cob’s Creek Dou­ble Bar­rel Barossa 2012 Shiraz ($25). From ortho­dox el­e­ments of plum and spice are sub­tle sweet­ness of fruit and wood as you hand­ed­ness. It works a treat.

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