Instagram Post 5/8/2019

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The food of Uzbekistan is relatively easy to track down in Brooklyn; that of Tajikistan, its neighbor to the east, less so. The cuisines are similar, but Tajikistan claims kurutob (you may see qurutob or qurutov) as its own. We enjoyed a vegetarian version of it (also available with meat) at Rayhon, the Tajik-Uzbek restaurant at 1915 Avenue U in Brooklyn’s Homecrest.

[1] Essentially a bread salad (Tajikistan’s answer to Italy’s panzanella, perhaps), kurutob ascends beyond the level of granting second life to shards from a stale loaf in that it features fatir, the delicate, flaky, layered bread that provides the base for the herby (rayhon means basil) salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion. Topping off the qurutob is its essential piquant sauce made from qurut (hence the name), a salty yogurt cheese, that gets soaked up by the fatir.

[2] The yogurty fatir gets its well-deserved moment in the spotlight, downstage.

[3] Crispy chuchvara (Russia’s answer to chuchvara are pelmeni, BTW), fried beef and lamb dumplings with an allium troika: caramelized onions provide sweetness, raw scallions for a little bite, and a few slivers of red onion just because. Not as redundant as you might think. But the dish as a whole was a little monotonous and could have been rescued by a bit of sauce on the side.

Cafe Dushanbe – Part 3

Instagram Post 8/22/2018

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More from Café Dushanbe (formerly Café Rokhat), the Tajikistani restaurant at 1788 Sheepshead Bay Road, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

[1] Manti are fist-sized steamed dumplings stuffed with chopped lamb, onions and herbs and are widespread throughout Central Asian and South Caucasian countries. Café Dushanbe’s version is filled with relatively large, succulent hunks of seasoned lamb and are truly among the best I’ve ever tasted.
[2] Morkovcha Salad. Shredded carrots in a subtle dressing enhanced with cumin and other spices.
[3] Okroshka is a cold summer soup of Russian heritage, yogurt-based of course, made from boiled potatoes, raw vegetables, eggs, dill and other herbs. I neglected to inquire about specific ingredients, but I can assure you it was delicious; I guess I’ll just have to go back and ask.

As if I need an excuse. 😉

Cafe Dushanbe – Part 2

Instagram Post 8/21/2018

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More from Café Dushanbe, the Tajikistani restaurant at 1788 Sheepshead Bay Road, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

[1] Another memorable dish that we ordered was shashlik two ways: Lamb Ribs and Beef Roulade Dushanbe. Now, shish kababs are usually good, particularly lamb ribs which are always off the charts (as they are here), but I usually eschew beef in favor of meats with a little more personality. Dushanbe’s beef roulades are rolled around fat for flavor and accentuated with indescribably delicious seasoning; they were so good, they made me believe in beef again.
[2] Where would meat be without potatoes? This skillet of Homestyle Potatoes topped with saucy mushrooms was the perfect partner.
[3] A bracing salad of radishes, cucumbers, and greens was dressed with yogurt by a different designation, “syuzma”, sour milk that had been strained through a canvas bag; for comparison, see my previous Dushanbe post that included qatiq. Indeed, Syuzma was the name (and the whole point) of the dish. So many yogurts, so little time.

Cafe Dushanbe – Part 1

Instagram Post 8/19/2018

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Named for the capital of Tajikistan, Café Dushanbe brings its yogurty cuisine to Brooklyn and does so admirably.

[1] One of the most impressive dishes we experienced (so much so that one of our group requested an additional order of it to go) was Kurotob, the pride of Tajikistan’s gastronomy. It starts with a base of fatir, flaky, layered flatbread which is then invigorated with qatiq, a delicious homemade yogurt, along with sautéed onion, red onion, tomato, cucumber, herbs and a toss of spicy green pepper on the side for those who desire a little kick. Mix well for maximum enjoyment. Tajikistan’s answer to Italy’s panzanella, perhaps?
[2] Straight-ahead qatiq along with two breads – the fatir and puffy kulcha – plus a ramekin of flavorful herb butter. If your only encounter with yogurt has been in the dairy aisle of your local supermart, you need to try this posthaste.
[3] Non-toki, a concave behemoth with a nod to matzoh.

The Kurutob alone was worth the trip to 1788 Sheepshead Bay Road, but there’s even more to recommend Café Dushanbe. Stay tuned….