It’s the most difficult time in recent history for restaurants. I don’t have to tell you why. But when I visited Zamarod in Great Falls, there was no reason I should have been the only customer. The airy restaurant offers both socially distant indoor and outdoor dining. Owner Dor Niaz wears a mask as he operates much as he would if you were being hosted in his home. But perhaps most importantly, the food is excellent.
Though there is a substantial vegetarian menu at Zamarod, the truth is, Afghan cuisine is practically designed for meat lovers. From dumplings to kebabs to long braises, it’s easy to fill up on animal protein.
To that end, I started my meal with mantu, dumplings filled with ground beef and tender onions, then topped in more ground beef in the form of a tomato-based sauce speckled with split peas. Niaz’s version is particularly delicate with ethereally thin dumplings skins and a topping of herbed yogurt that’s more creamy than zingy.
I had planned on having a lamb shank, served with apples and spinach, but it’s only available for dinner. Instead, I went with the Kabuli Pulao, a steal for the $12.95 lunch portion. At dinner, it’s still well worth its $17.25 price tag. Carrots, raisins and thinly sliced almonds on top of the saffron rice are enhancements, not a sweet distraction. They blend harmoniously with the lamb stew that accompanies them. That stew reminded me of my grandmother’s tomato-based pot roast, had she been a better cook, more adept with spices. I used the accompanying flatbread to soak up even more of the sauce, but still had enough of the meal left over for another day.
The same grandmother always joked that there’s an extra stomach for dessert. When faced with homemade rose water ice cream, covered in ground pistachios, her wisdom was correct. It turns out the ideal ending to a meaty meal is a little bit of creamy rose. // 10123 Colvin Run Rd., Great Falls
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