12410 N. Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78753
It is passionately family-owned and operated by folks from Bangaladesh who share amazing family recipes.
Our first visit there focused more on the traditional goodies: Hummus, Lamb kebobs, Dolmathes, Falafels and of course, a Chicken Shawarma for Marge and a Beef and Lamb Gryo for me. They were all quite tasty and very well prepared.
The next visit was as a bit more adventurous for us. We tried the Gormeh Sabzi. This is a classic dish: herbed stew with lamb, red beans, drielemons and basmati rice. The fragrant, delicate nature of this dish belies its robust flavors. But it worked wonders for us, Do try it. Another very appealing dish is the Lamb Shank in a wonderfully nuanced sauce that absorbs the grain on the plate and elevates the flavor profile, This has a mouth feel to it that is incomparable. The lamb is tender to the point of a knife being superfluous.
Then we tried the Chicken Shawarma Platter featuring thinly-sliced, marinated chicken that is quickly sauteed to seal in the fresh flavors; not unlike chicken cooked on the tandor. It was delightful.
The third visit took us to the pinnacle of what Shahi and Auntie (the chef) have to offer. I refer of course to the Shahi Haleem. This is the Bengali version of a dish that is widely popular in India, Pakistan, Syria and many other middle eastern countries. It’s a stew that features wheat, barley. lentils and various meats, in our case lamb. It is a staple in Bengaladesh during Ramadan, and it’s easy to see why. The version Auntie made for us was amazing. Cooked for eight hours, the Haleem had an almost buttery flavor with no hint whatsoever of the taste of the lentils (although they greatly added to the texture). I was blown away by the confluence of flavors. Of course, I ordered several more to go to see how they would reheat. Two days later, I had my answer: they reheated beautifully!
I normally eschew the almost ritual habit of ordering Baklava at restaurants like these. Usually way too heavy on the rosewater. But I was coaxed in to a bite at Shahi by the front manager Jaymie and the bite soon became several Baklavas down the hatch. Easily the best I’ve tasted in the city. Not too sweet with a perfect, crispy goodness.
It’s amazing what we sometimes miss in our city. I ran into a woman on our last visit who had been listening to our Food Friday show on KLBJ. She’d decided to try Shahi. No need to ask her if she’d enjoyed it. The look on her face said it all.