January 22, 2019

1:20 PM, Biriyani Kebob House, Los Angeles

Chapli kebab

When we walked into Biriyani Kabob House in a Koreatown strip mall, the owner was on the floor,  head down, in Muslim prayer.  The Latino cook pointed at him. “Wait for him,”  he said.

Jake Tapper was on a large, loud TV, talking about the  hate march in Charlottesville.  My guest was a Pakistani journalist. We  ordered chapli kebab, which is ground chicken with chili and coriander, pressed flat on the grill.  

“Where are you from?” he asked the owner.


The journalist told me Bangledeshi chapli would not be as good as in his native Punjab. “People go there just for the chapli,” he said.

The Latino cook made fresh naan, then the kebab. He plated it with a lime green yogurt cilantro sauce and salad.  We ate.  It was hot, with fresh chili, minced garlic and onion, and fragrant with coriander and parsley.  

“So is it as good as home?” I asked the journalist.  He smiled.  “It’s very good,” he said.  

It was.  We watched footage on TV, people fighting over the  kind of America they wanted.  I had my answer.  I was sitting in it.  

A moment of prayer before taking our order.