Lok Tiwari, the Nepalese co-owner of Ghar-E-Kabab, always harbored the dream of opening his own restaurant. While working in the kitchen of the Marriott (Renaissance in Down Town Washington DC) he was inspired by that company’s efforts to strip trans-fats from their foods. Tiwari began thinking of ways to make his native Nepalese and Indian food healthier. In his ideal restaurant classic vegetarian dishes would be made from locally grown organic produce effused with Indian and Nepalese spices. Meats would be cooked high over hot charcoal in a tandoor (a traditional clay oven) allowing fats to drain, thereby lowering their cholesterol content. He would cook with olive oil, make his own yogurt and bake bread as ordered. His restaurant would serve the simple fresh, organic, flavorfully spiced foods that a mother would cook if she came from New Delhi or Katmandu.
It was a dream shared by, Chetnath Bhandari, who originally moved to Washington to serve as a chef for the elegant diplomatic parties of the Royal Nepalese Embassy. Bhandari eventually took his cooking skills to the prestigious Bombay Club on Connecticut Avenue, a culinary venue frequented by Washington’s political elite, including the Clintons.
During his 13 years at the Bombay Club, Bhandari befriended another chef, Chandasar Ray, whose cooking career began in the kitchen of the Taj Group resort hotel in his native Bombay and eventually brought him to the Raga restaurant in Rockefeller Center, one of the first Indian fusion restaurant in Manhattan. Ray worked in New York for 15 years before joining the staff of the Bombay Club. After another 11 years of marinating chicken and grilling lamb in a blisteringly hot tandoor, he too dreamt of owning his own restaurant.
The Ghar-E-Kabab (House of Kabab) was born from the mutual dreams of these three co-partners. Although small, the restaurant needs two chefs, a curry chef and a kebab chef, working simultaneously in an orchestrated dance of cooking and seasoning, to keep the luncheon buffet trays filled and the dinner service timely. The buffet menu is particularly challenging because it changes daily to encourage diners to come back frequently to experience a variety of offerings. At Ghar-E-Kabab it is executive Chef Ray who prepares the curries, skillfully blending in just the right mix of spices, while chef Bhandari tends the earthen oven, grilling the meats and baking the sweet naan, a round south Asian flatbread.
Shanti Sharma, who is Tiwari’s wife, manages the restaurant. As hostess she graciously welcomes diners as if they were guests in her home while overseeing a serving staff who keep the fresh naan coming and the water glasses filled.
The Ghar-E-Kabab is more than just a sit-down restaurant. Its catering service can deliver to large weddings as well as smaller home parties and can even provide the family dinner through free delivery to homes within a five miles radius.