I've never had Afghan food before, and yesterday seemed as good a time as any, so my friend Christina and I decided to have dinner at Ariana in Allston.
Initially upon first stepping inside, we both paused and did a bit of a double-take. Christina finally broke the silence by asking: "Um... Did I just bring you to a date place??!!"
Although Yelp reports that the dress is "casual," Ariana has a very intimate and romantic sort of feel. The lighting is dim, the tables are each set with a candle, and the seating is primarily made for groups of 2 or (rarely) 4 (granted tables can obviously be pushed together to accommodate larger parties if necessary).
For an appetizer we each ordered the Kaddo, because it was gushed-over on all of the reviews on Yelp. This dish is a piece of baby pumpkin that has been seasoned with sugar, initially pan-fried, then baked to a melt-in-your-mouth softness and finally served with a mint yogurt sauce, as well as topped with a ground beef sauce.
This appetizer was beyond yummy - completely worthy of the praise it had received from other reviewers. The mix of salty and sweet was perfect, and the textures of the pumpkin worked well with the beef.
For an entree Christina ordered the Dopiaza: marinated and grilled leg of lamb served on a bed of mashed potatoes, topped with a puree of split peas and onions lightly marinated with vinegar, as well as a side of mushrooms and rice. The lamb was tender and not too gamey - although the dish wasn't exactly amazing, it was solid
My entree was the Kofta Challow: beef and onion meatballs, topped with a sauce made of sun-dried tomatoes, special mix of Afghan seasoning, spicy peppers, fresh tomato sauce, and green peas. There were very few green peas, not very much spice, and only a few sun-dried tomato pieces, but the meatballs were well-prepared, the tomatoes were more sweet than sour, and overall the dish was satisfying
Although (as I've already mentioned) I had never tried Afghan food before, my impression now is that it's not all that different than Turkish or other Middle-Eastern-style cuisine, but Ariana's Kaddo appetizer is pretty stand-out and definitely worth a try
Overall rating: 8/10
129 Brighton Avenue
Boston, MA 02134