When I think of Afghan food, a hefty lamb shank is never far from my mind’s eye. Wait, that’s true even when I’m not thinking of Afghan food. But you know what I mean. From Kabuli pulao to chopan kebab, it’s a meaty cuisine.
But Mazadar Restaurant in Fairfax is neither fully Afghan nor as devoted to flesh as many of my favorite Central Asian restaurants tend to be. Owners Qader and Bob Zahory are influenced by Afghan food, but Persian dishes appear on the menu, too. That fusion allows for a a wealth of vegetarian dishes, drawing from those cultures and beyond.
Sitting by the blue-tiled fountain at the middle of the elegantly appointed dining room, it seemed only right to start lunch in a leisurely manner with a sampler of dips. Puffy, warm pita is appealing enough to eat on its own, but coated in minty eggplant dip, it’s utterly irresistible. The oregano-flecked hummus earned points with my party, too, as did the mast-o-khiar with its slivers of fresh cucumber. The oversweet babaghanoush remained mostly uneaten.
The Vegetarian Delight entree is no false promise. It combines three appealing meat-free stews on a single, segmented plate. The unimpeachable star of the trio is a garlicky, tomato-based eggplant dish. Garlic and tomatoes also lend their flavor to the kadu chalow, sweet butternut squash drizzled with yogurt and dusted with mint. The smooth spinach of the subzi is muted in comparison to the other two, but even that was quickly gone.
Did I miss the lamb? I barely even thought about it. And there’s always next time. // 11725 Lee Hwy. #15, Fairfax
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