Located in the food court of Phoenix (with a couple of outlets in other parts of the city),Cafe Arabia is a very humble yet successful attempt of Kunal to bring the good old middle eastern flavors to Pune. With zero knowledge in the food sector, his ardent love for middle eastern cuisine compelled him to start Cafe Arabia to introduce Punekars to the real Shawarmas.
We go to a place,eat some food and judge it within seconds. But we cant even imagine the magnitude of efforts that go behind getting every dish to your table right from choosing the ingredients to maintaining the hygiene. Its a very long and grueling process and Mr. Kunal has been acing it since years.
A quick fact file about cafe Arabia:
*All the preparations are done following the recipes from Middle east as that’s the only way to be to its cuisine though one cannot expect 100% authenticity as most of the ingredients are grown here.
*All the sauces are freshly made in their central kitchen and then supplied to all its outlets on a daily basis.
*No preservatives are used in any dish making it a relatively healthier option.
*The quantity served per dish is very generous making it a great value for money place.
Here goes my food experience:
i. Hummus platter: Fresh pita bread flavored with zaatar (a mix of ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, mixed with toasted sesame seeds) was served with four different flavors of hummus, namely pesto , fresh mint , jalapenos and spiced harrisa and lastly the original hummus. My likes go to the fresh mint and pesto flavored hummus though all the flavors went well with the pita bread and this dish was a winner indeed.
ii.Falafel platter: Falafel is a deep-fried ball, doughnut or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans.The ones here were crispy, flavored with parsley, mint and sesame seeds. These were served with salad , hummus and the exceptionally tasty garlic toum (a sauce/paste with olive oil ,salt and the richness of garlic)
iii.Chicken shawarma platter: How i love well made shawarmas!! We had a deconstructed shawarma, where sliced chicken was laid on a bed of salad covered with harissa and served along hummus.Trust me, a little salad gives the chicken a crisp factor.The chicken was beautifully grilled and textured, the dish was wonderful and very filling.
iv. Al Fahm: Al Fahm is chicken marinated in stuffed mozerella and garlic and a dash of yellow chillies. The key is to marinate the chicken overnight and slow cook it.The results?MASHALLAH !! The marination was done so well that the flavors sank deep down and the slow cooking made it extremely succulent. The slight spice of yellow chilies leaves you desiring for more.Its served with garlic toum though the chicken is sufficiently flavored.I bet , this one will leave you drooling, literally.
v. Shish kebab with herbed rice: Chicken kebabs were delicately spiced and served along buttered rice , salad and hummus. Though i liked everything individually, the combination didnt quite work for me and would have preferred the kebabs with lemon rice and fresh mint hummus.
Baklava: Its an achievement in itself to be able to serve baklava in town as we know how rare its to get here. Layers of filo pastry are filled with butter, with honey drizzled all over. Lastly the nuts are slightly torched to give it a crispy flavor. I relished it and would recommend everyone to have it.
Also , all their food is served in parcel friendly plates. So if you wanna grab a quick bite in between your shopping spree or end a hectic day at Phoenix with some good reasonable food you know where to head next!! I loved the place and am sure you will too.Lastly, I would like to thank Mr. Kunal for a lovely lunch and giving us some thoughtful insights on every dish prepared here and the tremendous hard work that goes behind every restaurant.