“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;” -Theodore Roosevelt
If you’ve ever hankered for a side of mozzarella sticks with your chicken tikka or fries with a mango lassi, you’re usually S.O.L. But chef Muhammad Ali Maniya, a veteran of Devon Avenue’s Bundoo Khan, is changing that by serving up a handful of American fast-food staples alongside classic Pakistani kebabs and stir-fries at a new spot called Meerath Kabab House Chicago.
He is a chef mostly by osmosis. Amjad Kahn, owner of Khan BBQ in West Rogers Park, helped his mom chop vegetables and toast spices on occasion, but mostly he just watched her cook in his childhood home in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
This article first appeared in Newcity Chicago Chicken Boti at Khan BBQ Khan BBQ was a smoky dingy cabbie joint, with cracked ceramic tile, red plastic bench seating bolted to the floor ala Kentucky Fried Chicken circa 1985, and no air conditioning. On a swampy summer day, with the clay tandoor ovens at full charcoal flame, the solitary rickety general-issue floor fan blew more hot air than a Chicago alderman and offered little relief. A year ago, when I first entered the restaurant, an old man with a prodigious white beard took one look, calculated me as a Devon Street day-tripper, nodded towards Hema’s Kitchen across the street, and said “our food is very spicy.”
Khan BBQ was a smoky dingy cabbie joint, with cracked ceramic tile, red plastic bench seating bolted to the floor ala Kentucky Fried Chicken circa 1985, and no air conditioning.