Unaabi – Afghan Food!
Story by Nick Verna, photo by Rochelle Hartman.
Cary, NC – Located at 914 Kildaire Farm Road, Unaabi serves up Afghan cuisine! Are you kidding? Awesome.
Roots in Afghan Royalty
I was told that the chef at Unaabi Grill was trained by the Royal Chef of Afghanistan. He brings authentic Afghanistani food to Cary.
At Unaabi Grill, they serve only fresh, healthy food, made with the highest quality meats and produce. In addition to traditional dishes such as sultani kebabs, their menu also includes mouth-watering dishes like naringe palau, aushak, kabuli palau, lamb kofta kebab, chicken breast kebab and much more. All of their kebabs are broiled over wood charcoal.
In The Old Pizza Hut Building – Transformed
When you enter the restaurant you would never know that it was once a Pizza Hut. The walls are covered with the vibrant colors of exotic folk costumes and tapestries giving the feel that you are in Afghanistan.
The Cuisine of Afghanistan
I would recommend starting off the meal with the aushak boiled dumplings filled with scallions, herbs & spices and topped with minted yogurt sauce and ground beef. They remind me of spicy wantons bathed in a sweet yogurt sauce.
A basic salad is served with every meal. What set it apart from the average salad was the dressing which reminded me of a ranch style dressing with a hint of dill that complemented the salad perfectly.
For the main course I would recommend the kebabs. The chicken breast kebabs are made with fire-grilled boneless chicken breast and are marinated in freshly-ground spices that give it the right level of heat and taste.
The lamb korma was seasoned with a delicate sauce made of fresh tomatoes, onions, green peppers & spices. The spices are on the mild side so if you are not a fan of spicy food this is the dish for you.
All of the entrees were served with a light delicate rice that had a hint of cumin. The spice added a wonderful flavor and it complemented the meat.
The firnee, an Afghan pudding, was made with rosewater and sprinkled with crushed pistachios. It had a light refreshing taste that cleansed the palette like a sherbet and ended the meal on a high note.
Check It Out
The servings were large. The restaurant was buzzing – our server earned her tips that evening. Pretty cool place.
The diversity of the restaurants in Cary continues to grow.
I was first exposed to Afghan cuisine in Minneapolis a few years ago. I was blown away by the amazing flavors and diversity of dishes. My comment at the time was along the lines of how lucky Minneapolis was to have this restaurant, and wishing we could get someone to open such a place in our area.
I have driven by Unaabi many times thinking it was just another Indian restaurant. Now I know better and will have to get there soon!
My take on Afghan cuisine is that it takes the best of Turkish, Greek and Indian to make some of the most amazingly delicious meals that you have never tasted.
I’m also a fan of the best Afghan Restaurant in North Carolina (OK, it’s the only, but I still like it!). The Chicken Naringe is my favorite dish there. I recommend it for groups and couples alike — it’s worth a trip. Note that no alcohol is permitted or served. I’ve dined with Indian and Pakistani friends alike, and I was told that the style of food is very close to Pakistani style (in the mountains where the two countries meld together). Dining at this unique place is a worthwhile experience I’ve enjoyed many times.