Raan Masala (leg of lamb with masala)
It’s a nondescript place along Makati Ave that honestly, you’d never pay any attention to. The only marker that announces its presence is its red signage. I was expecting some hole-in-the-wall joint with good food and lousy ambience. I climbed up the stairs and that’s where the transformation began.
Hossein’s Persian Kebab is a rather large, I could even say elegant space. The cuisine served here runs the gamut from Indian, Arabian, and Persian. The waiters are formally dressed and the tablecloth and napkins are starched. Those are blaring indications that it will also be more expensive than your average hole-in-the-wall, but please don’t let that stop you. You should give this place a chance.
This was my third visit to Hossein’s and since I was with my dad and the rest of the family, I got to try a few more dishes that I normally wouldn’t have ordered. The “usual” here for me and Bin includes the roti channai, an Indian griddle-baked bread much like a pancake in texture and taste;
chola masala, a highly-spiced, saucy garbanzo (chick pea) dish, perfect for dipping the roti into; and samosas, Indian empanadas stuffed with potatoes and peas and lots of cumin. Tell your server how much spice you can handle. I like my food with kick, but my best friend, B cannot even stomach V-Cut potato chips so if you’re like him, opt for mild. (You wuss.)
My dad likes the Raan Masala, an entire leg of lamb with masala spice. Masala is an Indian term for a spice blend with endless variations. At its most simple, it’s a combination of coriander, cardamom, and mace. Other complex blends can include 10 or more ingredients, and most Indian restaurants prefer to mash and blend their own spice combinations.
Anyway, the Raan Masala was something we all enjoyed. Thick strips of meat literally sliding off the bone chased with a spoonful of rice or eaten wrapped in the roti or naan bread. Multi-dimensional flavor. Exquisite. Note: a dish of Raan Masala is P1,750 (insert jaw drop here) but half-orders are available for P990. Either way, do, do treat yourself one day and try it. You’re worth it.
One other thing I would be remiss in if I didn’t tell you about it is the rice they serve here at Hossein’s. Go for the saffron rice: fragrant and nutty Basmati
grains colored and flavored with saffron, the most expensive spice in the whole world. Basmati’s characteristic taste and aroma is attributed to the fact that the grain is aged to decrease its moisture content. Being a person who can eat even plain white rice without a viand (ulam), I can literally polish off two plates of the saffron rice, but Bin and I end up arguing over who gets to have the last serving. We actually don’t agree on the subject of rice, but that’s a topic for another post.
Hossein’s also serves good chicken biryani, lassi, (a yogurt drink), and kebabs. There’s plenty to try here so schedule another visit. Then again, you might end up liking a few dishes so much that you’ll get stuck in the roti channai, chola masala, and saffron rice merry go round, just like me. Then again, (again) that’s not such a bad thing either.