Cari Taylor-Carlson

Anmol Is All About the Spices

Small Pakistani/Indian restaurant on Historic Mitchell is a well-seasoned delight.

By - Apr 28th, 2024 03:49 pm
Anmol. Photo taken Feb. 29, 2024 by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Anmol. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

As soon as I got out of my car, which I had parked across the street from Anmol, the smell of spices perfumed the air. This delightful aromatic greeting drew me into the restaurant with the promise of something good happening in the kitchen. Anmol is a small, inconspicuous place easy to overlook on the south side of Historic Mitchell Street. There are a dozen tables and a counter where you order and pay, and that is it.

The name of the restaurant, Anmol, is an Arabic word that means “precious” or intended to charm. When you take that definition of precious and apply it to the food at the restaurant, it appropriately refers to something that will be delicious and unique such as the Vegetable Biryani I ordered on my first visit. The chef steamed the veggies, carrots, peas, and corn along with Basmati rice, topped it off with paneer cheese, and served the dish with raita and a spicy green cilantro chutney. The raita, yogurt sauce flavored with garlic, ginger, and mint, was a gentle condiment, while the chutney, made with a chick pea base, lit up the dish with plenty of spicy heat.

The Peshawari Mutton Karahi, a generous serving of tender goat on the bone, came with a large dish of Basmati rice. The sauce had spicy heat and flavors that hinted of ginger, garlic, turmeric, and tomato. The dish, garnished with strips of raw ginger and sliced jalapeno peppers, was a complex combination of flavors which were hard to define but were totally delicious.

The Seekh Kabob and the Afghani Kabob were baked on skewers in a Tandoori oven. They were rolled and shaped like long fat hot dogs and looked like Middle Eastern Kufta Kabobs wrapped in naan, but they had very different seasonings. For the Seeth Kabob, the chef blended ground beef with ginger, cilantro, and jalapeno. For the Afghani, the chef started with ground chicken and then added mint, cilantro, garlic, ginger, and more of the same spices that flavored everything we tasted at Anmol, flavors that were spicy enough to be addictive but not too spicy for the heat-averse.

Because all our meals came to the table one by one as they were ready, we noted that the kabobs came last as the meat was wrapped in naan that was still warm from the oven when it came to the table.

All the meat they serve at Anmol is Halal which means it came from sources that complied with Islamic law. That criteria for Halal meat included how the animal died and how it was processed.

When one of my companions asked our server, Syed, if there was a dish that did not have spicy heat, he recommended Chicken Makhani. He said they cook the meat for two hours in the sauce which combines yogurt, tomatoes, and butter, and of course, more spices. The sauce was creamy; the chicken was impossibly tender; and the dish was buttery, rich, and soothing on the palate.

Like the Vegetable Biryani, the Vegetable Curry was filled with green beans, carrots, peas, and corn, but this time the vegetables were mixed in a tomato-based sauce and served with Basmati rice on the side. This rice, according to Syed, came directly to Anmol from Pakistan. You will see that it is longer than grocery store rice and it has a lot more flavor.

If you want to start your meal with an appetizer, and there are several choices, you cannot go wrong with the Punjabi Samosas, two deep-fried pastries stuffed with potato and peas. Again, the filling is spicy, due to the addition of hot chilis, but like every dish friends and I ordered, the spicy heat was just enough. If you need more, there was always a small container of green cilantro chutney on the table to accelerate the burn.

For a drink that complements the food, you can order a Mango Lassi. It is undeniably fresh mango mixed with yogurt and you could almost call it “dessert in a glass” — sweet, but not too sweet — and a delicious antidote to the spicy food.

There is much more to discover on the menu in this small restaurant on Mitchell. After my first visit to Anmol, I went back again and again to feast on their Pakistani/Indian dishes. If you want to explore a variety of dishes with familiar and unfamiliar flavors, check out Anmol. I promise you will be surprised and delighted.

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