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Friday, September 15, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Dining Deals

More distinctly spiced dishes than you can shake a stick at

Seattle Times staff reporter

Kabab House


8102 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle; 206-782-3611

www.kababhouse.com

Pakistani/Northern Indian

Hours: Noon-10:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, noon-10 p.m. Sundays, closed Mondays.

Drinks: Chai, Mango Lassis, no alcohol.

Credit cards: All major ones accepted.

Accessibility: No obstacles.

Rating: Recommended.

We all need a restaurant where we can feel comfortable eating alone, warding off curious glances with a helpful book or newspaper.

I would eat at the Kabab House solo. I'm not the only one.

Part of the appeal (and Kabab clearly has devotees) is that the restaurant does not gussy up the dining experience, but instead funnels its energy into food.

Five tables occupy the small space not taken by the kitchen, and I craned my neck over the dividing counter more than once to see the source of the cooking smells rich with garlic, ginger and spices. Service is polite and helpful, but you will most likely wait for tables ahead of you to get their food before yours arrives.

But then the flurry starts, and you'll wish you had more hands and mouths to keep up.

The restaurant's name nudges you to believe all the food is cooked on a stick, but there is more to the menu than skewered lamb, beef and chicken. Kabab specializes in Pakistani and Northern Indian food (and is 100 percent halal — food permissible under Islam), so you'll find the familiar crispy samosas, lentil-based daal and saucy chicken tikka masala, but you also can luxuriate in selections like a surprisingly tender Fish Masala ($10.95). If you have 25 minutes, consider Haleem ($9.95), a mix of six lentils, whole wheat, beef and rice. Vegetarians also have several choices, such as the cheese and pea dish Matar Paneer ($8.50) and breads like the potato-and-spinach stuffed naan, Aloo Palak Paratha ($3.95).

Though the ingredients for the entrees sound similar (tomatoes, spices, yogurt, garlic), my taste buds were rarely confused. A couple of saucy dishes might taste related, but most dishes are distinctly spiced. You won't mistake the spicy kabab for the measured masala.

Check please:

Vegetarian samosas: Prepare yourself for the biggest samosas you've ever seen. And big does not mean less flavor. These pillowy puffs are filled with fragrant potatoes and peas, with a wonderfully crisp exterior.

Lamb Boti Kabab: The grilled lamb is served with iceberg lettuce, not on a stick. Perhaps the lettuce is supposed to put out the three-alarm fire in your mouth. Heat seekers will love the spice level of the well-seasoned, yogurt- marinated lamb.

Fish Masala: The Kabab House dishes up a tender, flaky fish married to a lovely vinegar- and tomato-based masala sauce. The fish could be halibut or cod, depending on what is available. Order naan to soak up the extra sauce.

Bhindi (okra): Okra lovers like me will relish an all-okra dish. The bhindi features a generous portion of fresh okra cooked in spices with onion and tomato. The tomato is light and does not overwhelm the delicate vegetable, which is just firm enough to be satisfying.

Itemized bill, meal for two

Two vegetarian samosas $3.50

Lamb Boti Kabab appetizer $9.95

Halibut Masala $10.95

Bhindi $8.50

Nan $1.50

Tax $3.23

Total $37.63

Nicole Tsong: ntsong@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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