For the 'maache-bhaate Bangali', kabab is most certainly an outsider. But no matter how much we talk about Bengali tradition and culture and the Mughlai cuisine, kabab has its own place in the annals of our food. Kabab goes well with any occasion, be it a celebration, a break-up or a date.
At least for Khilgaon dwellers, Al-Ameen Spicy Kabab, the roadside kabab place at Taltola, is the perfect go-to place for any occasion.
As the name suggests, this kabab place is definitely not for ones with a low spice tolerance.
Sazzad Hossain Alif, an advertisement professional, is a regular customer of Al-Ameen Spicy Kabab. To him, this is the ultimate place for a spice lover.
"I have been coming here for the last five years and I still crave the heat, the sweet and tangy raita and the perfectly crispy and soft luchi," Alif told us.
Al-Ameen Spicy Kabab mostly serves chicken kababs charred in coal burners. Five types of kababs are prepared here using broiler chicken - Chicken Seekh, Chicken Arabian, Chicken Chaap, Tengdi Kabab and Chicken Tandoori.
The beef seekh is Al-Ameen Spicy Kabab's best kabab.
The price range here is very reasonable, starting from Tk60 to Tk160.
The owner of the kabab place, Al-Ameen Miah, started this venture in 2009. "It was a small store at first and customers used to stand outside to eat my kababs," he said.
In 2016, Al-Ameen opened up his own place in Khilgaon Taltola road, opposite the Taltola market. Currently, they have three stores, two in Taltola and the other one is in Rampura.
The head chef, Md Mizan Miah, said, "Everyday we sell 60 to 70 kilo of chicken here. That's almost 300 pieces of chicken kabab. And one thing that is consistent here is the spice."
According to the chef, Al-Ameen Spicy Kabab uses almost 15 litres of vegetable oil and five kilo dried chilli powder daily. In fact, the majority of the expense is on spices. And for luchi, they require about 10 kgs of wheat flour a day.
Mizan is very specific about how he cooks the meat here.
"We don't believe in marinating the meat for 12 hours prior to cooking. I think food should be freshly cut and cooked. That's why we marinate for two to three hours max," Mizan explained.
Now, let's get to the point - the food. We tried five kababs at Al-Ameen Spicy Kabab - Chicken Seekh, Chicken Arabian, Tengdi kabab, Chicken tandoori and Beef Seekh.
This one was the spiciest of them all. Marinated chicken cubes were pierced through a seekh and charred over coal. Besides the marinade, Mizan sprinkled their special chilli and spice mix on top of the kababs.
This kabab was probably the only item that was mildly spiced. The meat was cooked through and juicy. But then again, it was almost bland.
It may have tasted bland because of how much heat and spice our mouths had already endured. Interestingly, Al-Ameen Spicy Kabab did not have this mild item at first. But then they saw that children also came along with their parents but they could not have the spicy meat. "Then we thought of this arabian kabab, with less spice," Mizan told the correspondent.
This is the biggest kabab of the lot - almost a quarter of a chicken - and the most colourful one as well, turning orange and reddish black from all the chillies and charring. But surprisingly, it was not that spicy.
This kabab was my favourite one and the priciest one, too. It is basically four pieces of chicken leg piece. But the disappointing factor was that the chicken in the Tengdi (leg) Kabab was a bit undercooked. In fact, we could see the white tenderloins with the bones.
This was the only beef item in the entire menu. What bugged me about this one is that I could not taste any other flavour other than excessive chilli. It may have been because I am not a spice lover.
Al-Ameen spicy Kabab serves their kababs with fried luchi and a yogurt-based raita or chutney along with a cucumber salad.
You may think the kabab is the star here. But in reality, the yogurt-based chutney is the ultimate showstopper.
The luchi is good as well; perfectly soft inside with a crispy thin layer outside.
The meat is cooked through perfectly and remains really juicy. You do not have to struggle to rip it apart from the bones.
Yes, the kabab is too spicy and hot. Your nose and eyes may start to water and your face will recoil just after taking a couple of bites. But the heat is somehow soothed by the raita and mint-coriander chutney.
If we talk about hygiene, the charring vessel was dark as coal and sticky with oil and grease.
The chef however said, "It's obvious, because we char meat with coal. All the utensils are washed daily and cured every two days."
The coal burner is placed outside and so is the glass case where Mizan keeps the kababs. The glass case was sticky with oil from the kabab.
The interior is pretty basic for a roadside kabab stall - with chairs and tables placed strategically to seat 12 people at a time.