City Paper is not for tourists
The Dish: balti gosht
The Location: Tabeer, 1401 University Blvd., Langley Park, Md., (301) 434-2121
The Price: $7.50
The Skinny: Making the trip to Tabeer will not exactly whet your appetite for the Indo-Pakistani dishes available at this Langley Park hideaway. You first have to maneuver your vehicle past the hordes of pedestrians who routinely crisscross University Boulevard with a cavalier disregard for body and soul; then you have to drive up a rather steep hill, past a loading dock, to a location on the backside of La Union Mall (suggested motto: “Where Stores Go to Die”). The atmosphere doesn’t improve much inside the restaurant, which appears to have taken its decorating cues from Bob Stupak‘s Vegas World, circa 1981. But then the balti gosht arrives, with its side order of bubbly naan on a large woven platter, and all your senses collapse and focus on this humble combination of curried goat meat, coriander, and slivers of fresh ginger. Tabeer calls this “the famous dish of Punjab, Pakistan,” but balti gosht likely was popularized, if not created, by Punjabis in Birmingham, England. No matter. What’s important is the flavor combination: The goat meat is first braised in a spicy liquid, then finished in the wok-like balti with oil, tomatoes, and peppers. The resulting meat is moist, tender, and concentrated with fiery, acidic flavors. The ginger slivers add another layer of heat and aromatics, while the coriander provides the just right amount of leafy coolness. Once you’ve polished off the plate, you’ll suddenly see Tabeer in a friendlier light.