Eating Week #2: Khyber Pass Cafe

For this week’s Eating blog, we combined our dinner out with a good deed, as the dinner was part of a fundraiser for our daughters’ school. Thus, we got a delicious meal that benefited our kids’ school – a true win-win scenario! So, where did we go? To a wonderful Afghani restaurant, Khyber Pass Cafe, in the Midway area of Saint Paul.

As this was a benefit dinner, our choices for dinner were slightly limited, but only slightly. As a first course, everyone started off with home-made hummus, which was on the creamy side, but with a nice balance of lemon, garlic and tahini flavors. I tend to make our hummus a bit more chunky and thick, but I was perfectly happy with the Khyber Pass version. Along with the hummus we had bread and some dipping sauces.

As a main course we had choice of four dishes:

  • a vegetarian plate with lentils (Daal) and eggplant (Baanjaan)
  • a vegetarian butternut squash with a yogurt sauce (Kadoo Borani)
  • chicken curry and curried potatoes (Korma-e-Murgh)
  • beef meatballs with curried potatoes (Kof a-Chalau)

I opted for the chicken curry. It was a very pleasant dish, with a nice level of spiciness without being particularly hot. It’s a dish I’d be happy to eat again, but in retrospect I rather wish I’d tried the meatball dish, as the chicken was a bit plain. We eat a lot of chicken at home, and I should have tried something more exotic. I think I’m likely to try other dishes the next time we dine at Khyber Pass. My wife had the eggplant with lentils; I sampled a bit of the Daal from Catherine’s plate and found them quite tasty. Between the six of us at the table (we ate with Mike and Kira and another couple) we covered the main courses, and everyone had nice things to say about their choice. All of the dishes were served over basmati rice cooked to perfection with just the right level of firmness.

To finish off the meal, everyone was served a dessert of cardamom and rose scented milk custard. The cardamom and rose were both noticeable, and added a distinct element to the custard that I quite enjoyed.

After most of the diners had finished their meal, the restaurant owners (also parents of students at the school) entertained us with a bit of information about the restaurant, Afghani food, and their personal histories. It was very pleasant way to conclude the meal.

I’ve looked over their regular menu on the Khyber Pass Cafe website, and a number of dishes sound intriguing. I expect that we’ll go back again to check them out!

Khyber Pass Cafe
1571 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul MN

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