Unique New Restaurant in Mississauga Provides Delicious Afghan Cuisine in a Casual Dining Environment
For this new restaurant opening up in Mississauga, providing a unique experience isn't just about the food - it's largely about the atmosphere as well.
Balena Restaurant & Karahi House is planned to open in May 2019 at the corner of Tenth Line West and Thomas Street.
Those who are already big fans of Afghan cuisine will likely be familiar with some of the restaurant's signature dishes, such as Shinwari Gad Karahi, Mantoo, Kabobs and for dessert, Fernee or Baklava, among other menu items.
"Balena in Pashto means 'invitation'. Consider this an invitation to get a taste of Afghanistan and its famous hospitality," the restaurant states on its website.
"Whether you are a vegetarian or a meat lover, an Afghan-cuisine aficionado or unfamiliar to it, Balena welcomes all... At the start of every meal we wish you 'Kha Ishtiah' for a delightful experience which means ‘Good Eating’ back home."
So what makes Balena unique compared to other Afghan restaurants?
According to the owner, most other Afghan restaurants are quick service restaurants where customers typically go in, get their food quickly, and then leave the store.
Balena aims to be something different: A casual dining experience where customers and families can take some time to relax, enjoy their food, and take in the restaurant's gorgeous interior.
"We are not a quick-service restaurant, we are a casual dining restaurant with table service," he owner says.
Dishes are painstakingly cooked with a greater emphasis on quality than speed.
"That's not what you usually see in Afghan restaurants," he adds.
For first-time customers planning to visit Balena, including those who may have never had Afghan cuisine before, the restaurant strongly recommends one dish in particular: the Shinwari Gad Karahi.
For those who don't know, Shinwari Gad Karahi is a lamb dish named after the utensil it's cooked in, the Karahi (a deep, heavy-based cooking pot).
The dish is typically cooked slowly and with minimum use of ingredients in order to achieve authentic flavour.
After it's prepared in the Karahi, it's also served to guests in the Karahi - you then take it from the Karahi into your plate and enjoy the hot, freshly-cooked food.
Also highly recommended is the Qabili Palau, a dish of steamed rice with lamb and carrots, as well as the Mantoo, meat-filled dumplings typically stuffed with ground beef.
Mantoo is a celebrated part of Afghan cuisine, mainly served during special occasions. It is said that people from northern Afghanistan carried frozen Mantoo with them during winter journeys and would boil them in pots over campfires for a quick meal.
Besides its menu of delicious cuisine, one of the most enticing things about Balena is its atmosphere and ambience.
The restaurant's interior sports a contemporary design with touches of traditional Afghan elements.
The seats and lighting have also been carefully designed to maximize comfort for customers.
"We spent about six months coming up with the design," the owner says. "We have a nice beautiful dining place where people with families can come and enjoy their food."
Customers are invited to visit Balena and compare the offering of dishes and the atmosphere with that of other Afghan restaurants, with a promise that they'll notice the difference in quality.
Whether you're already a lover of Afghan cuisine or completely new to it, a visit to Balena Restaurant & Karahi House is well worth your time and money.
"Be a part of our journey, that started from the mountains of Speen Ghar (White Mountain), and through the European plains brought us to this gorgeous white wonderland of Canada. While we mastered the art of creating fine recipes at various restaurants we owned, we always enjoyed serving great food delightfully to our guests."
Editor’s note: This article was corrected to reflect a change in the restaurant’s grand opening date.