#122 - Sheesh Mahal, Oklahoma City, OK

When I bought my house 7 years ago, one of my first projects was decorating. I didn't really have much in my townhouse in Maryland, and what I did have was more trinkets from over the years. So every free weekend I packed up swatches of my kitchen tile, carpet, hardwood, and paint colors, as well as pictures and dimensions of every wall space. I got a few things. But then I got busy. Then lazy. Then thought about it every few months.  A few weeks ago when I took down the Christmas decorations I again realized how bare my walls are. So I got re-inspired, and took advantage of the Martin Luther King holiday and headed out bright and early this morning. 3 stores in I realized why I kept quitting in the past...I can't decide what I want. So I gave up and went to the outlet mall.

Restaurant.com has been awesome. There is really no reason for me to eat at someplace I've been before until I hit all the ones in OKC that are in the program. Not all of them are super convenient to where I normally shop, but this can also be a good reason to explore more of the area.  When I was looking for today's lunch spot I originally wanted to use a sushi place I found a few weeks ago, but its not open on Monday. Then I came across Sheesh Mahal, a restaurant featuring Middle Eastern cuisine. It got good reviews on both TripAdvisor and Restaurant.com.

Sheesh Mahal is on N May Ave, not too far from NW Expressway. If it didn't have the big sign outside and you didn't know where you were going you could easily miss it. The place is pretty small, seating for only about 40. There are 2 booths, and the rest are tables. There's also a covered patio in the front. There was a table full of Middle Eastern guys, and then one American couple at another booth. But since I didn't get there until after 2 you couldn't judge the crowd. And like I always say, any ethnic restaurant where people from that country eat there, that's a good sign. You order at the counter, and then they bring the food to you. 

One of the reviews said to let the staff help you with recommendations. I had looked at the menu yesterday, but when you're there its a little overwhelming. So I let the gentleman help me pick, and took a seat at a booth. I ordered a soft drink and was really surprised when it came with no ice. But this place is authentic, and if its anything like being served in Trinidad, you don't get ice unless you ask. One thing I do like is that before he makes any recommendations, he asks if you like spicy or not. Because that could be dangerous if you don't like spice and don't speak up.

I started with Pakora, which is a deep fried bread stuffed with stuff. They have lots of different types of fillings, but mine was spinach and onions.

This was so good! The bread was still doughy, and you could tell they had made this from scratch and fried to order. There is a hint of a strong spice in the dish  At first I thought rosemary, but I don't think so. Maybe caraway. Who knows. But the spice was in the background so it was okay. It was served with a red sauce that was sweet, and a very good contrast to the bread.

I had a hard time choosing the main dish. But when he suggested Channa Chicken Curry, I was sold.  Growing up with Trinidadian parents, I've eaten that millions of times over the years. And it sounded delish. All of the dishes are a la carte, so I had to decide between rice and bread. They've got several different kinds of both, but since the server suggested plain rice as a good complement, who was I to judge? So that's what I got.

I make a decent curry. My mom, grandmothers, and family friends make really good curry. This might have been one of the best curries I've ever had. It was rich, silky, and smooth, and had such an intense flavor. My mom thinks they use yogurt in their curry. The chicken was so tender. At first I thought it was all dark meat. If not, they sure know how to make chicken breast super tender. It had some heat ("pepper hot", as my mom would say) but it wasn't too bad. The channa (chick peas) were delicious too.  And the spice doesn't hit you at first; it creeps up as you eat, but is never overwhelming.  The rice tones that down. I love that they served it in the little clay pot. Great presentation. The rice was really good too, a basmati rice cooked with cumin. Again, the spice lent a warm undertone but wasn't strong. I could literally have eaten the entire chicken. The dish came with a green sauce on the side. I tasted a tiny bit on my fork, but it didn't do anything for me so I just left it alone.

As I was eating the server brought me dessert. She has a very strong accent and very broken English so I couldn't understand what she said it was. Thanks to Google, I learned its called Firni

This was delicious too! Its a sweet milk and rice pudding. And it has a little bit of crushed pistachios on top. The dessert is a nice cooling contrast to the curry. It was definitely sweet, but not crazy. And they just give you a little bit, and for no charge. I really like that.

The couple behind me, it was obviously their first trip too, and they were raving about their food as well.

Without restaurant.com I would have never found this place, and would have missed out on an awesome experience.  The sign says "authentic Halal Pakistani and Indian cuisine".  They're not kidding about the authentic part.  I will no doubt be back, and will definitely take my parents. I actually called my mom as soon as I got to the car to tell her about it. I never do that.