Five-dollar* lunches: Curry around the clock at Ghareeb Nawaz


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Goat, goat, chicken, chicken
Chicago newcomer and blogger Gwynedd Stuart loves to eat out, but she also happens to be a poor person because she's a Chicago newcomer and a blogger. In this weekly feature she seeks out affordable midday meals that don't exceed five bucks (*actually seven, with tax and tip).

I'm so confused by Ghareeb Nawaz.

They're open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which seems like it must be exhausting for the owners and operators of this high-volume Indian-Pakistani restaurant with an enormous menu. Also, they give you so much food and charge you so little money for it, which seems in conflict with generally accepted methods of running a profitable business.

But then I was less confused when the Internet told me that "gharib nawaz" translates to "helper of the poor." It just so happens I'm poor. So thanks for the help.

A reader suggested Ghareeb Nawaz, specifically their "vegi thali," a four-item vegetarian sampler that comes with rice and flatbread and yogurt sauce . . . and costs $3.99. That sounded like so much fun, my dining companion and I got the meat thali, too. A sampling of four meat dishes with all the aforementioned accoutrement for $4.99.

I'm so boring, see. When I eat Indian food, the dish I always get and by which I judge a restaurant is tandoori chicken. I figure that's akin to always ordering chicken parmesan in an Italian restaurant, which is a thing I would never do. The difference, I guess, and the great thing about tandoori chicken, is that it's flavorful and moist (or should be) without being drenched in sauce. But listen. There's nothing wrong with chicken that's swimming in sauce, especially when the sauce is good and the chicken is falling off the bone.

Both chicken curries served on the meat thali were great—similar, but great (one had chickpeas, one didn't). I was especially excited about the goat dishes. Braised in a really fresh-tasting, tomato-based sauce (one had spinach, one didn't), the meat was tasty without a hint of gaminess. Fold bits of the meat into a piece of flatbread—sorry, chappati—with yogurt sauce and fresh onion, and you'll be happy you have sensory organs.

The vegi thali—also great—came with mixed vegetables in sauce, a chickpea dish I decided was chana masala, a spinach dish I decided was aloo palak, and spicy pureed lentils. Ooh, and we got a couple of samosas for fifty cents each, one potato, one meat. The meat version was wrapped in crispy sheets of filo rather than the denser flour dough with which the potato pastry was made, which we really appreciated. The prices were so low, we even treated ourselves to a soda from the cooler, but bear in mind there's a water cooler with styrofoam cups on the wall adjacent to the counter where you place your order, so you can make this a true five-dollar lunch, no asterisk necessary.

2032 W. Devon,, 773-761-5300.


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