Yes, there are still plenty of people (unfortunate souls) who have not experienced the (almost aways) excellence that is Himalaya, Kaiser Lashkari’s restaurant that features plastic-covered tables and valiant but often-frustrating service, but some of the best food in the sprawling region that is the Houston metropolitan area. It is, to my palate, the best Indian-(Pakistani) restaurant around, and the righteousness of my opinion was again confirmed about a week ago.
I’ve had most everything on Lashkari’s menu, including the masala fried chicken and the chicken fried steak, both of which are excellent dishes, as well as the saag paneer and any number of varieties of biryani. I’ll continue to order those. But now I’m raving about something I had never had before until a week or so ago, and that is the Paratha-dilla made with lamb. Raves are not sufficient for this. It is, with no exaggeration, one of the best things I’ve eaten in a restaurant this year.
Parathas are unleavened flatbreads indigenous to the Indian subcontinent — from the words “parat” and “atta” … or “layers of cooked dough” in English — and they can be wonderful when made by a skilled person, or leaden and dull when made by sloppy hands. I’ve had many of both types, and the one at Himalaya is decidedly in the former group. Light in texture, yet substantial; flaky as opposed to dense and doughy. In short, comfort food at its best. But at Himalaya, they’ve been combined with the “dilla” of “quesadilla” and transformed into something altogether miraculous.
The Paratha-dilla with lamb, ground and full of spices, and served with onions and masala sauce and tomatoes and cilantro, hits all of the senses with aplomb and confidence. The flaky and moist bread almost melts into the lamb, and a bite including the onions and tomato and cilantro and sour cream? It’s a thing of beauty, in the most sensual sense of the word.
Lashkari loves a good mash-up — he’s got a Smoked Brisket Masala and Shrimp Masala and Grits rotating on his menu now, among other creations — and the Paratha-dilla is one of his best. (And for anyone who doesn’t know, Himalaya is BYOB, so drink well.)