The Best Afghan Restaurants in Toronto
The best Afghan restaurants in Toronto might be off the radar for many of us. Afghan cuisine, like its birthplace, is for the most part a mystery to Torontonians and while it shares many similarities with its Middle Eastern neighbours, Afghan cuisine is decidedly more complex. Lamb and chicken are predominant offerings on Afghan restaurant menus and they're often spiced with mint, saffron, coriander or cardamom. Well-balanced yet contrasting tastes are its hallmark as influences from the Middle East, Turkey and India blend together for unique (and delicious!) results.
Open a menu at an Afghan restaurant and you're unlikely to avoid a long list of kebab offerings, and unlike Persian kabobs, Afghan kabob is typically served with bread, not rice. But kabobs (surprise, surprise) are not Afghanistan's national dish. That honour would fall to quabili pulau--a dish that mixes steamed rice with lentils, raisins, carrots and lamb. Other standards include manti (dumplings filled with spiced meat), qormas (onion-based meat stews with various legumes and spices) and naan (bread). Unlike Indian naan, Afghan naan is typically a white/whole wheat blend and is topped with poppy, sesame or nigella seeds.
Toronto is lucky enough to have some great Afghan restaurants, even if they're not plentiful. Most tend to be located downtown or in Scarborough but there are Afghan restaurants in other areas of the city as well.
Here's my list of the best Afghan restaurants in Toronto.
Writing by Janina Galeazza
With five locations in the GTA, Bamiyan Kabob is the undisputed king of Afghan food in Toronto, and for good reason! Their meat is marinated for 24 hours, and everything else on the menu is made fresh daily. Kabob is the main offering, and dinner portions always come with chalow (white rice), salad and naan. If you still have room after dinner, make sure to try their homemade firnee, which is a creamy pudding spiced with crushed cardamon seeds and topped with shredded pistachios. More »
It's worth the drive to Maple. Technically outside of the GTA, Nowshak neverthless deserves a spot on this list. Their menu is one of the most diverse and their mantu and quabali pulau are arguably the best in town. Although it's a little fancier than most Afghan restaurants, it's not a bad date spot if you're looking for something different. For those who have never tried Afghan food this isn't a bad place to start. More »
Unlike other Afghan restaurants, Pamier Kabob is known for its basmati rice dishes, mild curries and unique kabobs. Most of the dishes are medium spicy, and each dish comes with salad and naan. The vaziri lamb kabob and shahi chicken kabob are particularly excellent. They have three locations in the GTA including the latest one near Spadina and Adelaide. More »
This Scarborough restaurant is more like a fast food joint that specializes (as their name suggests) in kabob and naan. In the traditional manner, all orders come with only naan, but rice can be added for $2. Their chaplee kabob (a minced beef patty, and one of the most popular barbecue meals in Afghanistan) is a must-try. Bonus points for the exceedingly friendly staff. More »