Food & Drink » Food Reviews

Restaurants need customers to stay open. I’ve tried imagining my life without Sheesh ... and it’s not pretty.

by

comment
Assortment of Sheesh Mahal food includes, from left, garlic naan, daal, butter chicken, malai tikka chicken and a plate of rice biryani. (Mark Hancock)
  • Mark Hancock
  • Assortment of Sheesh Mahal food includes, from left, garlic naan, daal, butter chicken, malai tikka chicken and a plate of rice biryani.

I worry about Sheesh Mahal.

Not the way I worry about my kids or my job or global warming, because those things don’t really matter. But when I go into that little building at 4621 N. May Ave. and I don’t see every table full, I worry.

Restaurants need customers to stay open. I’ve tried imagining my life without Sheesh ... and it’s not pretty.

Serving a mix of Indian and Pakistani cuisine, Sheesh Mahal is making some truly tremendous food. My first bite of its chicken kabob ($4.99) had me reeling. Is it legal to make chicken taste this good? This tender and flavorful? And, if so, why isn’t anybody else doing it?

Similar, but a little different, the malai tikka ($4.99), in which the chicken is marinated in a thick yogurt and spices, is phenomenal. The fire-singed meat has a satisfying crunch and chew before melting away.

Want less meat? I don’t understand what those words mean. But, whatever. Get the daal ($4.99). So much flavor is packed into this spicy stew. This food will stick to your ribs and set your mouth ablaze. Eat it alone, over rice or dip your naan ($1.50) or roti ($1.99) in it. However you choose, it’s deeply satisfying.

How does Pakistani food differ from Indian food? Well, the thing I notice most is the addition of beef. And if you get the aloo keema ($6.99), be prepared to fight your dining companions and possible the people in the next booth. They will want a bite, and you should not give it to them. Medium-diced beef is stewed with potatoes, onions and spices to form a starchy, lip-smacking dish you will love.

The chicken biryani ($5.99) surprised me, not because it was good (it was) but because the chicken was still on the bone. As long as that doesn’t bother you, I highly recommend this spiced, fried rice. It’s good hot and pretty tasty after a day in the fridge.

Did I forget the samosa ($1.50)? I can never forget the samosa. A fried dumpling full of potatoes and spice and oh my god I want one right now. Careful, though — these things pack a kick. You won’t stop eating it, of course, but your mouth will feel the burn.

The palak paneer ($5.99) is wonderful, though it can be a little bitter. But you can soothe that with a mouthful of the incredibly decadent butter chicken ($6.99). Look, I love that orange chicken tikka masala as much as anyone, but Sheesh Mahal’s butter chicken puts them all to shame. So rich. The chicken is meltingly tender. The spices are tempered by that deep, luscious, buttery flavor. A must-try.

Truth be told, there are only two things I don’t love at Sheesh:

1. The falafel sandwich ($5.99) was a little too dry and the falafels were lacking in flavor.

2. The fact that it’s not packed full of customers every time I go in.

Oklahoma City, this is a great restaurant. Living in the bones of the old Zorba’s, this restaurant is not trying to be fancy. There’s no artifice. All they’re doing is serving up some excellent Indian and Pakistani cuisine, and not nearly enough people are enjoying it.

So I worry, yes. Because if Sheesh Mahal goes, all that will be left in that old building on May is my broken heart/stomach. They’re basically the same thing.

Print headline: Sheesh! Sheesh Mahal is a little-known palace of unbelievably satisfying Indian and Pakistani fare. Why aren’t you there?

Latest in Food Reviews

Add a comment