Indian American Restaurant in Davie Is Truly International
Nihari is a traditional Pakistani dish with cubes of tender beef served in a bubbling, aromatic brown stew. Boneless beef is slow-cooked for six hours with julienned ginger and jalapeños in a fragrant sauce of peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, and cardamom seeds known as garam masala.
It's a recipe that varies but is always sweet, spicy, and delicious, topped with cilantro and lemon, with complex notes of citrusy coriander and hot cinnamon.
"It differs in every household," says Pakistani native Syed "Sam" Chishti, chef/owner of Indian American Restaurant. "My mom and my aunt make different versions -- my mom gets mad, because I say I like my aunt's variation better," he says with a laugh. "It's everywhere in Pakistan; even five-star hotels have it on the menu."
The nihari is just one of the Pakistani specialties on the diverse menu at the Davie restaurant, which offers an array of fare from South Asia and the United States.
While working a ten-year contract supervising a cafeteria for the Arabian American Oil Co. in Saudi Arabia, Chishti was invited to visit some of his American colleagues in the States.
After spending time traveling with friends in 1983, Chishti knew he wanted to immigrate.
"I had lots of American and British friends [in Saudi Arabia] and an American girlfriend for a while," says Chishti. "I had a great time with them. We went to the Kentucky Derby when I came to visit, and I said, 'Man, I want to live here.' "
Upon arrival, Chishti, who has spent most of his life in the hospitality industry, landed a job as a server at Denny's. Within a month, the district manager sent him up to manager training. Since then, he's worked at numerous American chains, such as IHOP and KFC, and has even owned a number of his own franchises and original restaurant concepts.
Though he specializes in authentic Pakistani cuisine, Chishti's love of American food is evident on the menu.
He serves a wide selection of breakfast fare like pancakes, omelets, waffles, and even crepes in addition to sandwiches, burgers, and pizza.