Saturday special of Kaabeli Uzbeki - Afghani lamb pilaf - basmati rice, lamb shoulder, carrot, sultanas


As you well know, I get excited when a good new place opens up.  Well, I’m excited again!  Rumi Palace was recommended to me by friends (Norwood locals) who had recently been.  I was off to see a late movie at Hoyts Norwood and thought – what a perfect excuse to give it a try, given that it’s situated right in the newly redeveloped cinema entrance on the corner of George Street and The Parade.

Rumi Palace brings us Middle Eastern food – the taste of Persia, featuring dishes from Afghanistan and Iran.  It’s is a family business so you’re getting service from people who really care about what they’re doing and put their heart and soul into the food.  And what great food it is, combining herbs and spices including cardamom, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, saffron, paprika, tumeric and coriander.  If that list doesn’t make your mouth water, there’s something wrong with you!  I think it’s safe to say that there are a lot of us who have never been exposed to pakowrah, sambousa, khelaal naaraenj or mantoo – the only other time I’ve experienced such offerings, was at Adelaide’s Afghan restaurant, Parwana.

It’s a light and bright inviting space with tall glass windows, patterned tiles and small colourful lanterns.  Rumi’s menu is quite short, with four entrees and eight mains, but it really doesn’t need to be any more extensive.  To start with, we shared the all-vegetarian dips served with crisp naan.  You get a choice of three – we chose the Beetroot and nectarine, Asparagus and avocado, and Spinach, mint and ricotta.  I don’t usually order dips, but these were really enjoyable.  We then had the Kourmeh-e Mourgh (chicken, ginger, garlic, yoghurt, chana dal, sour plums and chilli).  I loved this – big chunks of juicy chicken thigh meat in a sauce that was so luscious, the flavours were doing a happy-dance in my mouth. I ended up polishing off all of the sauce with a spoon and would have gladly licked the bowl clean if it were socially acceptable!

Then came the Mantoo (Afghan meat dumplings) – delectable morsels of onion, peas, garlic and tomato covered in lamb mince and yoghurt.  And just to make sure we had too much food, we also ordered the ‘Saturday Special’ of Kaabeli Uzbecki, Afghan lamb pilaf.  Owner, Seyed, tells us that this is a very traditional and popular Afghani dish.  It arrived as a beautiful mountain of basmati rice, THE most soft and succulent lamb shoulder meat, carrot and sultanas.  There was obviously some ridiculously tasty stock that went into making that dish – I couldn’t get enough of it!  It’s worth going on a Saturday night purely for this dish – shame it’s not available every night.

You simply have to try this place.  The food is colourful and an explosion of flavours, with the bonus that BYO wine corkage (it’s BYO only) is only $10 per bottle, and you can take beer at $2 per bottle.  It’s so good to see a new cuisine brought to The Parade and it’s an excellent addition to the Norwood restaurant strip.  Whether you’re going to the movies or not, treat yourself to a delicious meal!

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