Bukhara, 33 Church Street, Cape Town.,,,02…?+¦?-¼?+«+ë?+¦???+½?+¦???+¦
A trip to Bukhara is like a meeting with a lawyer. You know you are going to get screwed, but sometimes it is for your own good.
In this instance the “good” was the opportunity to get acquainted with some Bollywood scriptwriters and a cricket journalist ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ now there’s a weird combination ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ visiting Cape Town for the Indian Premier League cricket roadshow. For a bunch of teetotallers, these four weren’t half entertaining. The humorous tone and relentless quips had me in stitches, so much so I almost forgot about the food.
But when I turned to Dravida and asked her what she thought of Cape Town’s premier Indian restaurant, she said: “If we laugh, the food must be good, jaaarrrr?”
Shit. And I thought it was my bulky good-looks and wittiness that had her showing her pretty pearly-whites for most of the evening. (Her teeth weren’t bad either.)
Okay, so Bukhara is Bukhara, even if it is with a bunch of silk-garbed, sari-donning Indians. The space is cavernous, all wood, ochre and cool-looking waiters in black. There is a scent of spice and incense. Behind the glass window the thin moustached chefs stir pots and point with skewers of meat long enough to disembowel an adult hippo.
The Indians were not drinking, so I kicked off with three Heinekens while they sipped salt lassis, a yoghurt drink that tastes like chilled baby puke.
Seeing I was the local, they did not even look at their huge, leather-bound menus. “You select for us, jaaarrr?” said Sanil, the cricket writer as he told the joke about the Sikh, the Catholic and the Australian ballerina.
I sat back, looked cool and as if I owned the place and selected the following: butter chicken, lamb rogan josh, chicken lababdor…. “We like it hot, jaaarrr,” quipped Dravida. So I added vindaloos chicken and lamb.
Shahi paneer, the creamy cheese in spicy tomato sauce, is a must, as are a couple of butter nan, some basmati rice and cucumber raita.
While the other kept the lassis coming, I had a bottle of Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc. With all his Chenin Blanc-hype, one tends to forget how good the Sauvignon is his Stellenbosch Lordship churns out.
Let’s face it, the quality of the nosh at Bukhara is good. Chicken is moist and rich and the sauces velvety and flavourful. Lamb is succulent, and the Indians went ballistic over the texture of the lamb in the rogan josh and Vikara, the Bollywood scripter, ordered another two portions of rogan josh. “In India, the lamb tasting of old cricket balls, jaaarrr.”
Having not chewed on a cricketer’s ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ or any other balls, for that matter ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ I took her compliment with pride. Although I’d like to take her and Dravida down to the Mutton Mecca of Calvinia for a week-end and show the two of them what a real piece of South African meat tastes like.
I was surprised at my guests’ reaction to the vindaloos. I love the hot and spicy flavours of well- made vindaloo, but they seemed to struggle with the heat, which was a bit like seeing an Italian not knowing how to eat pasta.
The nans were claimed “excellent”, and “all fresh and crispy-ing”, with the only bit of disappointment being the lack of substance in the dish of paneer. The serving bowl was brimming with sauce, but one struggled to find the pieces of cheese. We just ordered more, however, mopping the delicious sauce with nan.
Sure, it ain’t cheap with the dishes running to R100 before adding rice, nan, etc. And a table of Indians can run up a nice little tab as they keep the dishes coming, believe you me.
But satisfied Indian smiles and musical laughter make up for it ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ especially when Sanil paid the bill from his expense account.,
E. Louw Joubert