I received an email from an old high school crush a few weeks ago, not wondering how I’m doing or if I ever get lonely, but instead asking if I had reviewed Sheesh Mahal, 4621 N. May, yet. In her letter, she told me that it’s her favorite restaurant but it’s pretty much empty these days. She went on to say that she believes they’re getting by on a small contingency of “taxi drivers.”
Now I don’t know about all that, but I do know that since I’ve moved back to the city, the parking lot seems to stay quite barren, sadly. Being on my mind quite a bit since the letter, I decided to stop by this weekend, my loins quivering for a broad lunch of Sheesh Mahal’s renowned homemade Pakistani food.
True to form, the dining room was empty, save for one gentleman in the back corner, nervously shoveling what I believe to be rice and chicken down his gullet. Once the premier outlet of Pakistani cuisine in Oklahoma City, nowadays Sheesh Mahal almost seems to be an eatery that everybody talks about being their favorite, but you never really see them eating there, which is an absolute lying shame.
Ordering at the counter near the back, I put in for some of my absolute favorites: the Aloo Paratha bread, a plate of Spicy Rice and, because no one makes it like Sheesh Mahal does, a bowl of Goat Curry. As I took my number—20!—and was seated nearby, the waiter brought me a tall glass of water and their complimentary mint tea, a light outing that is a more than welcomed taste for this healing throat of mine.
The Aloo Paratha ($2.99) quickly came from the kitchen; an unleavened flat-bread made with plenty of potatoes and various spices, this wonderfully evocative taste of the Pakistani culture is just as good as the first time I had it some years ago. A pock-marked mixture of buttery tastes, the chewy mass offered an unique texture and heavy spirit that I honestly could’ve had as a meal by itself.
However, it was the small order of the Spicy Rice ($2.99) that actually surprised me most—when I ordered, I forgot that it’s quite a large serving, almost a whole plateful, of a fully aromatic rice that is more flavorful than fiery, the spices gently acting on their own temperate accord. For an added bonus though, mix a little bit of the heat-heavy green sauce they give you on the side for a reasonable kick to the eyes, ears, nose and throat.
Still, the most wonderful part of the meal was my long-awaited main dish, the Goat Curry ($8.99), served mostly on-the-bone in a medium-sized pot. The tangy red curry, with what almost seem like a bit of mint wandering around in there, engaged haughtily with the precision-cut cubes of fresh goat, the bones I gently spit out like organic buckshot.
I’ve got a few bucks left on a gift certificate from one of those food delivery services—someone told me their Butter Chicken is tops, so maybe I’ll nosh on that tonight. Come to think of it, maybe these days more people are ordering in instead of eating out—in this case, I truly hope so. Cómpralo ya!