In Summary
  • A large chunk of the Indian population in the city calls this densely populated neighbourhood home, so it is only natural that there’s a multitudinous assortment of Indian cuisine restaurants.
  • Thrilled by my proposition, he immediately said Shabz which I had never yet been to but had heard about often.
  • I was quickly corrected for erroneously calling what apparently is chicken chooza a chicken tikka, and given a brief education on the differences.

Nairobi’s Parklands suburb is a labyrinth of unmarked roads and haphazard developments. A large chunk of the Indian population in the city calls this densely populated neighbourhood home, so it is only natural that there’s a multitudinous assortment of Indian cuisine restaurants. These range from food kiosks tucked in dilapidated buildings and back streets that are well kept secrets, to more recognisable establishments in the newer towers which are coming up literally every other month.

Due to the large chunk of the Indian population calling Parklands home, there’s a multitudinous assortment of Indian cuisine restaurants here that are well kept secrets. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

Shabz BBQ exists in a league of its own.

Situated along one of the main avenues close to Highridge Mall and Diamond Plaza, Shabz is a family owned food service company which has run for years and managed to grow a reputation beyond the perimeter of Parklands.

THERE WAS SOME SORT OF SECRET CODE

I was visiting my friend in that general area not too long ago, and when he offered to make dinner, I suggested that we find somewhere close and grab some takeout instead. Thrilled by my proposition, he immediately said Shabz which I had never yet been to but had heard about often. Expecting a somewhat ostentatious façade, I was surprised when we pulled into the poorly lit, unremarkable parking lot of Amani Plaza and stopped right in front of the restaurant.

Obviously a regular, my mate exchanged friendly greetings with some of the staffers and shepherded me to an upstairs dining area. Both the sitting areas are rather cramped and can only accommodate a handful of people, but it soon became clear that the core business could very well be just selling take out as I watched a gang of youths and a small family come by to collect orders and leave in the short time that I was there.

Unbeknown to me, there was some sort of secret code that had been activated because no sooner had we sat down to wait than platters of food were brought out. How my friend had managed to place our order and notify the waiter that we no longer needed takeout and could eat on the premises, I do not know. I was quickly corrected for erroneously calling what apparently is chicken chooza a chicken tikka, and given a brief education on the differences. The former is cooked in a clay tandoor oven while tikka is usually cooked on a grill. Our portion, which was an entire spring chicken, was served with naan, vegetable salad and delicious chooza sauce whose recipe everybody remained rather tight lipped about.

Shabz BBQ is a little gem. Slightly rough around the edges (zero inspiration where ambience is concerned) but excels where it matters. That night I think the entire place was being served by just two waiters and not once did we sense any bad attitude from them. For only Sh1,500 my friend and I ate to our hearts’ content, and then ate even more in a perverse show of greed. We also still had some leftovers.

The quality of food was unquestionably high, and you could tell that the meat was well marinated over a longer period than most mid-price places today would care to do.