Verbatim text exchange with our s.o. on a recent Friday as Gut Check slouched home from the blogger salt mines for the weekend:
Gut Check: driving home right now
S.O.: I'm blank on dinner ideas
Gut Check: am at the whole fds intersection
S.O.: Still blank
Yes, we all have issues. Some of them, though, have relatively simple solutions. Which brings us to a new weekly Friday-afternoon Gut Check feature:
"Where You Should Eat Tonight and What You Should Order"
It's just what it sounds like: Each week we'll supply the name of one of our favorite St. Louis restaurants and a dish or two we -- in consultation with the chef -- highly recommend you try.
(Note: Significant other not required. In fact, even if you are so equipped, feel free to fly solo. Like we said: We all have issues.)
This week Gut Check suggests Sameem Afghan Restaurant (4341 Manchester Avenue; 314-534-9500). The Afghan, Persian and Indian cuisine served here is an RFT favorite, and we're pretty certain you'll love it too.
We caught up with owner Qayum Mohammad and asked him to dish about his current top dishes.
Mohammad and his wife do most of the cooking, and though they love to experiment and come up with new items for the menu, they're partial to the classics. Mohammad recommends chicken teekah masala. The dish comes with your choice of chicken, shrimp or veggies in a "zesty, creamy tomato sauce," but chicken is the most popular iteration.
"It's so unique here," he says. "I came up with it myself. It's a very upscale version."
Mohammad takes chicken tenderloin kabobs and grills them in house-made teekah masala sauce. The sauce is made from pureed tomatoes -- "I never use tomato sauce!" Mohammad says -- and all the spices used are hand ground in the Sameem kitchen.
The chicken teekah masala is one of Sameem's best-selling dishes, as is his other suggestion this week: lamb qabelli palau, a traditional Afghan dish with basmati rice and slivers of carrots and raisins. It's traditionally served family style, but single portions are available.
To create this dish, Mohammad explains that the lamb is braised until it is "fork tender."
"You can hold it in front of a flame, and it'll fall apart," he says. "It's 100% very traditional Afghani food. It's like the cheeseburger of the U.S."
He says the unusual pairing of carrots and raisins mellows the richness and gameyness of the lamb. "It just adds a really wonderful character."
And how should you wash down an Afghani feast? Sameem's organic green tea flavored with cardamom.