The kebab combo platter is the smart choice at Express Kabob because it allows the option of Kabuli pulao, a marvelous basmati rice pilaf made with long, super-thin slices of carrot and raisins that seem plumped up practically back into grapes. It’s an aromatic dish, the taste as subtle as the smell is intoxicating, the perfect foil to the savory, peppery force of the meat.
There’s a whole side of the menu that doesn’t involve kebabs, too, and it contains many of my favorites. Mantu ($9) are wide, plump Afghan dumplings, each nearly 2 inches across, filled with ground beef and onions and topped with dal nakhut, yellow dal made by splitting chickpeas. The mantu sport a yogurt sauce that fuses garlic and mint together into a funky, uniquely tangy topping. A drizzle of tomato-butter sauce and a showering of parsley complete the picture.
Nodding to the portion sizes at Express Kabob, owner Reahim Budri jokes “The Middle Eastern appetite is big." As Plano finds out about his family’s cooking, the city’s appetite for his dishes may grow to match.