Steve and I have frequented what I had first thought was an Indian restaurant on the Beco dos Surradores located on some stairs...(what a surprise) on the way up to the Castelo Sao Jorge. It was only my stupidity thinking it was an Indian restaurant when the sign clearly states that is is "Restaurante Paquistanes, Taste of Punjab". Ok.. not Indian, but Pakistani...a close neighbor and similar cuisine. Their food in a word: DELICIOUS! The price: Incredibly reasonable. You can have a complete dinner for well under nine euros! But first....some introductions and then my story.
|Taste of Punjab is not far from Rossio Square and Praça da Figueira|
|a simple and very clean restaurant inside|
|Mohammad: Engineer turned restaurant owner and cook|
|Asim: Restaurant Owner showing the history of Tandoori|
|Ali:master Naan and Roti maker|
|Claudia: Brazilian girl who helps in the restaurant|
|Eucilinda drinking her morning bica|
Then, without using an oven mitt he hurled the dough in to the side of this very hot well with red-hot coals. (He swears he has never burned himself now that he has had some practice. This is not something I will ever attempt. I burn myself while ironing!)
|see the dough stuck to the side of the wall???? AMAZING!!!!!|
He is also cooks the tandoori chicken in the hot oven once it is prepared by Mohammad.
I was amazed at how tender and delicious the meat and chicken tasted. That's when I learned about Halal, a way of slaughtering meat very similar to Kosher preparation.
We decided then to take a break and drink some Chai Spice Milk Tea which Pakistanis drink every morning to calm their body and mind. It was delicious and although I am not a tea drinker, this has become a favorite of mine. I noticed that before Mohammad drank he said "Bismillah." He told me that before any endeavor, such as eating or starting on a journey, this word is said. When Mohammad explained the word, his definition was quite beautiful. He told me that saying "bismillah" allows god...or goodness... to flow through your soul. I liked that thought..and I like Mohammad. He is a kind and patient man. I try to remember to say that now before I eat and each time I see Mohammad he reminds me of the word with a smile on his face.
I was invited back the following Sunday to assist with a group of 40 people who would be coming in for a birthday party. I was really excited at the thought. But the next day I woke with a horrid cold and thought handling food would not be a good idea. I called them to decline and hope that I will once again have the opportunity to cook with them.
You will not find The Taste of Punjab on a website...at least not yet. I have been encouraging Asim to develop one because the food is great and there are only a few Halal places to eat in Lisbon. Muslims and others who like carefully prepared food look for this type of restaurant. I think the rest of the world needs to know how good the food is.
More than learning how to cook this wonderful cuisine, I have learned a far better lesson about friendship across cultures. These are my first Muslim friends. They are good people...kind, loving and hard working and I am so happy to know them. I will eat at this restaurant many more times before we leave in December. But for now...Khuda-hafiz (good-bye).
|Mohammad, my teacher...and me|