OFF-MENU with Josh

ARIANA II, 241 Kilburn High Road, Kilburn, London NW6 7JN

One of my favourite joints in London is the Afghan restaurant Ariana II in Kilburn. It’s their second restaurant, the original hailing from the upper West side of Manhattan. It always seemed like a strange choice of location for the second outpost to me. Even the most fervent and devoted fans of Kilburn High Road (there can’t be many) must admit it’s a far cry from Uptown Manhattan. But then the restaurant is always busy, so look who had the last laugh.

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Plus they make the most outrageously good Kadoo (pumpkin) Buranee – which is a starter of mashed pumpkin, delicately spiced, mixed with olive oil and topped with yoghurt. I can eat that stuff with a spoon.

It is here that I also first learned the joys of Mantu, steamed pastry stuffed with lamb mince and topped with meat sauce, lentils, and yoghurt. I’m assuming it’s a close cousin of the Turkish version called Manti. Don’t ask me how I figured that one out.

For the main course, try any of their grilled meats and you won’t be disappointed. The lamb tikka kebab is melt-in-your-mouth soft and almost other worldly. I have no idea how they make it so tender and tasty.

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