Bite Of The Day: Pumpkin Bolani, Afghani Pulao & Lamb Karahi From Bahar Masala On Coney Island Avenue
While Coney Island Avenue is a veritable feast of South Asian cuisine, its tire and repair shops interspersed with countless Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants, it is not easy to track down Afghan food — a cuisine influenced by centuries of trade and war, its dishes bursting with spices — coriander and cardamom being some of our favorites — from around the globe, plenty of bread, spiced rice and so much more.
After a craving for Afghan food hit us hard last night, we decided to venture to Bahar Masala (984 Coney Island Avenue, by Newkirk Avenue), which, once upon a time, was named Bahar and served solely Afghan food, but transitioned several years ago to an Afghan and halal Chinese restaurant. (Speaking of halal Chinese food, here’s an interesting side note: China has a huge Muslim population, with about 23 million followers of Islam living in the country, predominantly in its western regions, a tiny portion of which borders with Afghanistan.)
So, setting out into the muggy May air, we arrived at Bahar Masala with stomachs rumbling and ready to douse ourselves with spices and plenty of fried eats in the restaurant filled with red tables, Chinese lanterns and murals of a pastoral scene in Afghanistan and another with the outline of the country with the phrase, “A country stays alive when its culture stays alive.”
Things got off to a slightly rocky start when the waitress told us they don’t serve tap water, only bottled water. A little irritating, but we moved on and took a look at the menu (beware if you are vegetarian or vegan, this is definitely more of a spot for meat eaters). We settled on the pumpkin bolani (a fried flat bread), Afghani pulao (a slow-cooked meat dish — ours was lamb — filled with spiced rice, lentils, raisins, carrots, cardamom, and nuts), and lamb karahi (essentially a lamb stew made with coriander, cumin, chili, yogurt, and more).
Everything was fresh and delicious, with more than generous portions that left us happily carrying home to-go boxes. The pumpkin bolani was sweet and crispy, the karahi was tender and incredibly flavorful, and the pulao was definitely the star of the evening, its mixture of sweet, spicy and savory a welcome treat.
Have you been to Bahar Masala? What did you think? What’s your favorite spot to get Afghan cuisine in the area?
Bahar Masala is located at 984 Coney Island Avenue, by Newkirk Plaza. To see the restaurant’s menu or to order online, go here, and for more information about the eatery, you can visit its website here. You can reach Bahar Masala by calling 718-434-8088.
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