When I first heard the news from a friend that Ridan House of Mandi was opening in Karachi, I was extremely excited. Ever since I moved to Karachi from Riyadh I had been craving the aromatic, flavourful Arabic rice.
Over the weekend I decided to go to Ridan House of Mandi with my family. Situated on Khalid Bin Waleed Road, the restaurant doesn’t have the most ideal location — we were stuck in traffic for nearly 45 minutes.
Walking down the narrow flight of stairs in the building, I was reminded of eateries in Islamabad that have the same concept of designing restaurants at the basement level.
I was surprised to find the restaurant overcrowded with families waiting in the lounge area of the entrance. I dreaded the long wait for a table and breathed a sigh of relief as the waitress seated us right away. Since we were a large group of 12 people, they gave us a bigger space with traditional Saudi gao takiyay and a dastar khuwan set on the floor.
As I sat there and observed my surroundings, I closed my eyes for a brief moment and felt a wave of familiarity hit me of being back home in Riyadh.
Where to go:
Ridan House of Mandi is located on Khalid Bin Waleed Road, opposite Danish Motors, White Palace Tower, P.E.C.H.S Block 3.
When to go:
The restaurant is open for lunch everyday from 12pm to 3pm and reopens for dinner at 7:30pm to 12am.
What to eat:
Since we were all famished, we decided to order an appetiser. The menu isn’t very extensive, so we opted for the Fattoush Salad, which is the safest option when it comes to Arabic salads. It is usually made with a combination of greens, tomatoes and radish topped off with crispy fried pieces of pita bread that are similar to croutons.
Before our salad even arrived, the waiter served us complimentary yakhni soup. I was expecting it to be piping hot but it was only slightly warm, so we had to ask the waiter to bring us another round. We all happily sipped on our yakhni that had the same taste of homemade goodness.
Once our salad arrived, it looked very inviting. We dug into it immediately, crunching on the fresh veggies and loads of crispy pita bread on top. I liked the dressing that had a light, yoghurty tinge to it, combined with the flavour of dill — definitely different than the original dressing that has olive oil and pomegranate powder.
For our main course, we ordered a four-person serving of Chicken Madhbee and four-person serving of Mutton Mandi. The manager was gracious enough to tell us how much we should actually order, since initially we had ordered two of each!
Since the restaurant was packed on a Saturday night, their service was very slow. We had to constantly ask them for more cutlery. I guess since there were 12 of us we were quite a handful or should I say mouthful!
Finally, the moment I had been waiting for had arrived. At first sight, the Mandi and Madhbee looked exactly like what I had had in Riyadh. I tried the Madhbee first, which has charcoal barbecued chicken on a bed of flavourful Arabic rice. The chicken had a desi touch to it since they had basted it in spices, with a reddish tint because of the paprika. I nervously took my first bite since my spice tolerance isn’t very high. Thankfully it wasn’t too spicy for my taste buds!
Next up was the Mutton Mandi, which looked more scrumptious than the Madhbee - and proved to be so too! The mutton was very tender and tasted exactly like the one I have had in Saudi Arabia. The rice was also very light with a tinge of zeera and more flavourful as compared to the Madhbee.
There is always room for dessert — if anyone tells you they’re full and can’t possibly digest more, they're lying! I was thrilled to see they had my favourite Arabic speciality, Kunafa, on the menu. I couldn’t wait to devour the cheesy, syrup soaked pastry. The waiter served it to us in a foil dish, which was unlike others I've seen before. It seemed as though I was eating seviyan with cream cheese on top, but it still hit all the right notes for me!
Damage on the pocket:
For the location, restaurant, and quality — the prices were quite steep. The Chicken Madhbee for 4 people was for 2200, and the Mutton Mandi was double the price! But it is justifiable in terms of their serving portions. We still had some food left over, although we were 12 people.