When Naseer Roshan and his sisters contemplated the type of restaurant the family would someday open, one thing was certain: “We didn’t want to get into the kebab and rice business,” he says, reasoning that there is much more to the cuisine of central Asia than those familiar dishes, delicious though they are.
Instead, the Roshans wanted to put a new spin on the flavors of their native Afghanistan and the other countries where they have lived and traveled, including Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Iran. The result of their culinary ambition is Madar Afghani-Fusion Street Food, which opened in the Arden-Arcade neighborhood this spring to rave reviews.
“The foods on our menu are all influenced by the things my mother cooked for us,” explains Roshan. (Madar, in case you were wondering, means mother.)
Indeed, the dishes at Madar will make you wish you had grown up eating around the Roshans’ table. The bolani, a chewy flatbread stuffed with potatoes, mint and green onions, is pure comfort, as is the tandoor samosa, with potatoes, beef or chicken encased in a flaky pastry.
Where this kitchen really shines, however, is with its sandwiches. The chapli burger is an inventive take on traditional Pakistani chapli kebabs. In this instance, the tender patty is layered in a soft bun with grilled tomato, arugula and a tangy yogurt mint sauce. Another standout, the crispy chicken sandwich, is on par with some of the best chicken sandos in town thanks to a slathering of pink aioli. “My mother loved eating crispy chicken sandwiches when she moved here,” explains Roshan, so the menu had to have one.
Compared with most fast-casual eateries, Madar is a cut above when it comes to ingredients. “We make all of our own yogurts, sauces and chutneys,” says Roshan. They also grind all of their meats in-house. The buns are sourced from Grateful Bread. “It is difficult cooking home flavors in a commercial setting without cutting corners, but we like everything to be fresh,” he says.
To the delight of the Roshan family, their culinary gamble has paid off. “Some restaurants are scared to try something different because they’re not sure how people are going to respond to it,” says Roshan. “But we believe customers will embrace new food, especially if you put some love in it.”
Madar Afgani-Fusion Street Food
2654 Marconi Ave.