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Abla: Where whole is greater than the parts

Abla: Where whole is greater than the parts

Grilled Quail

When you ask for directions to Kerdasa, buried deep in the outskirts of Giza, the answer can fill two pages of a notebook. “You drive along one side of the Nile Corniche, go over a bridge, turn right, go up and up along a single-track road” and after several kilometres think, “where is this place?” It’s all part of the adventure.

Once you arrive at the destination, down a dusty little road, the first thing you will notice is the odour of fried chicken liver, and on the right side of the row, lie various restaurants that claim to be the famous “Abla”, but only one of them is the original “Abla Quail.”

When it comes to poultry, white always wins for me. When it comes to reviewing meals, I try to let other members of our DNE team choose their own food. Then, usually, I choose something nobody else wants. Often, this is the chicken. I believe that this choice can be explained by a remark a friend once made recently. “I never eat chicken at restaurants,” he said. “I can make it at home.”

Obviously, everyone can, yet every time we visit a new restaurant, I always hope the kitchen may know a thing or two about poultry that I may not. Every once in a while, I am right.

Abla, a several decades old restaurant, was one of these places. I can confidently say that my search for a perfect restaurant to take people who think they can make better poultry at home to is complete.

We ordered one of Abla’s signature dishes, grilled quail. Once you order, the table quickly becomes filled with more than 10 mouth-watering dips and salads, from tahini and baba ghanoush to green salad, along with freshly baked “baladi” (traditional Egyptian) bread. Thoroughly grilled, every two birds were placed in the centre of the table in their own iron serving plates. Our eyes locked in on the crispy browned skin and tapering curves of the quail with fixed and purposeful stares that, if we had not been humans looking at poultry, could have been called lustful.

Grilled chicken

We also ordered grilled chicken pieces, which came in a large plate of deliciousness. The chicken was well marinated and spiced.

The team had never tasted something quite like it at any restaurant. The quail and chicken were well-cooked and delicious; crunchy from the outside and tender from inside.

When it came to the red meat dishes, they were as loved and enjoyed as the poultry. We ordered grilled beef kofta, along with veal chops. The meat had all the things we wanted and none of the things we did not. It was moist, but not drippy or briny; compact and muscular, but not tough; and long on deep, rounded flavour. However, the chops could have used some extra spices, as their flavour was a little bit dull.

One of Abla’s most remarkable dishes was the “mazzalika”, which is seasoned and cooked chicken or quail liver. The liver was tasty, well-cooked, and full of flavour.

On the other hand, rice-stuffed quail, a popular substitute for one of Egypt’s most famous dishes, stuffed pigeons, was served over rice on an iron plate. It had a golden baked skin, and did not disappoint; it was tasty, well cooked, and the rice was well spiced.

All in all, the Abla adventure was worth the effort and if you are looking for a delicious poultry meal, it is the place you want to be. And in terms of prices, the plates ranged from EGP 30-60 per serving; a full course meal that would leave you satisfied will not cost you over EGP 120.

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