We’ve been meaning to head to Samadi since it opened last year and finally made it one recent cold rainy Auckland night. Any sogginess we might have felt, metaphorically dried up the instant we entered thanks to the warmth of this lovely Afghani family. And the food just cemented this was my kind of place; homemade, honest, tasty cuisine served by warm generous people. Perfect.
In the interests of sampling a wide range of dishes, we ordered the Aushak (Afghan dumplings) ($28), Qabuli Palau ($6), Kadoo (sautéed pumpkin) ($12) and Banjan Sia (eggplant) ($16) and all were fantastic. The dumplings were super silky and soft, stuffed with chives and topped with mince, yellow split peas, homemade garlic yoghurt and dried mint. The textures all worked beautifully together, and it was the epitome of comfort food.
The long grain rice of the Palau was complemented perfectly by the carrots, raisins, pistachios and slivered almonds; notes of cinnamon and cardamom gave it that distinct Middle Eastern fragrance. The Banjan Sia was perhaps my favourite dish – it had a similar topping to the dumplings (minus the split peas) and the eggplant base was cooked to perfection. The Kadoo was similar, but with pumpkin, and equally tasty. Nothing was super spicy but all was beautifully flavoured – the only thing I would have to say is you have to like yoghurt, as it features heavily.
It’s not a big place and you have to be willing to share one of the two large sunken tables (or the conventional ones outside). But I guess that’s testament to food and charming service because despite the size, less-than-glamorous-location and the current lack of alcohol (the liquor licence is still pending), we would go back in a heartbeat.