KamPalak Paneer

This might be more relevant for people living in Kampala than those of you in Honduras and Iceland (I can see you!), but I wrote it, so I have to post it! Here goes – trying my hand at food writing:)

Kampala is full of pollution, motorcycles, potholes and… Indians. Fortunately, lots of Indians also means lots of Indian food – of excellent quality and superb taste! I discovered this early on and embarked on a journey to discover Kampala’s most delicious Palak Paneer (an Indian dish of mashed spinach with cheese cubes, typically eaten with na’an bread or with rice) and I’d like you to have a taste of my findings:

 1. Kati Kati

Kati Kati’s palak paneer is a delicious medley of spinach, tomatoes, ginger, and I even tasted parsley and mint. The winning feature, though, is the paneer (cheese). The cheese cubes are plump and fresh and although they are as soft as mozzarella they are still distinctly Indian. The na’an is simple, but with so many flavors it was exactly what the meal needed.

Except for its location just off a busy road, Kati Kati is a serene outdoor restaurant with a number of different areas to sit in. The service is prompt and the price is decent.

2. Club 5, Makerere University

This is the place where I was enlightened and it is a very close runner-up to Kati Kati. “What’s that green thing?” I had asked my friend, eyeing her green bowl of mush. I tasted one bite, immediately ordered a bowl for myself, and embarked on my life-changing journey.

The palak paneer is fresh, hot and smooth. In the heart of the university campus, Club 5 is a hip and happening place but somewhat slow service.

3. Masala Chaat, 3 Dewinton Rd (Near the National Theater)

I asked two Indians where I could get good Indian food. They stuffed me in their car and dropped me off here. Although it was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done, it led me to a wonderful restaurant.

Masala Chaat has an all-encompassing menu, an authentic feel, and very affordable prices. The palak was very good (although a tad bit too oily) but the na’an was the best I’ve ever had – simultaneously soft and crisp, making this restaurant the bronze medalist.

4. Haandi, Commercial Plaza, Kampala Road

Despite its sophisticated setting and well-dressed waiters, the price of palak was within the normal range (the price of na’an, however, was ridiculous).

The food was artistically presented and we were treated like royalty – served hot towels before the meal, and a bowl of water to wash our hands in after it. The palak was flavorful and authentic and the whole-wheat na’an added a special twist.

5. New Delhi, Windsor Loop, Kololo

from their facebook page

My friends took me here a few days after the incident, in order to get me out of the house and happy. Nothing like an outdoor restaurant and delectable food to get your mind off things.

Since I was slightly Indianed out, and felt it was okay to abandon my duty as palak paneer researcher just this once – I ordered a Navratan Korma, which was unanimously voted the best dish among all of ours. Creamy, spicy and rich. Vegetables, cashews, pineapple… Wow.

I tasted my friend’s palak, which was good but a little too basic. And the cheese felt like plastic. Still, for the pleasant atmosphere and quiet setting, I highly recommend this place.

6. Khyber Pass, Speke Hotel 

This was a splurge for a friend’s birthday. The palak was not the most memorable I’ve had, but the wonderful service and pretty setting made the meal very enjoyable. Unfortunately, the experience was tainted when we were informed that the prices on the menu didn’t include taxes.

7. Mom’s Kitchen, William Street

This is the place to go for fast-food Indian, and an oily palak paneer. It had no candle underneath it which was unfortunate, but walking there from the hectic area of the taxi park, I wasn’t expecting fine cuisine. But I did get friendly owners and a restaurant that stays open very late!

8. New Sagaar Restaurant, Bombo Road by the King Fahd Plaza

I came to this restaurant equipped with useful information from a friend who had eaten there, who had told me there was hardly any palak (spinach) in her palak. So after a long discussion with the waiter, the chef and then the manager, it was decided that I would be given a very spinachy palak.

There was a power outage, so we sat in the dark. The bathroom floor was one big puddle and the tap didn’t shut properly. The na’an was undercooked and the palak had a strangely watery texture.

I must admit, I greatly enjoyed the meal. But looking at my Indian-aficionado friend shaking her head with disappointment and disgust the entire meal, assured me I would never make a good food critic; I’ll eat anything.

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