How many of you know what maalga means? Any guesses? Okay, it means salt. Lahoris, who are known for their love of spice and salt, are always seen searching for places, that will offer them delicacies that are rich in just these ingredients. These, coupled with a refreshing ambience. A nice family environment is what they search for as well. In the beginning, I mentioned the word maalga because it is the name of an Afghani restaurant in Lahore. Its recipes are those of Pakhtun cuisine in its bid to preserve culture. It offers a wide range of Pakistani cuisine and is nestled in Khayaban-e-Firdousi, Block R1, Johar Town. The price range varies from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 per head. I visited the restaurant and here’s what I think of it. Truck art, bamboo cabins, coloured tiles and dumba karrahi in a parak are what stole my desi heart STRENGTHS — Maalga is a place that is decorated and adorned with truck art on its entrance which captivates a person. Family bamboo cabins and multi-coloured floors compliment the art. The concept and idea of it is beautifully executed where it gives a sense of privacy to families and is also a fascinating place for group parties, so they can enjoy their epilogues. Live singing enthrals the attendees. The musicians are professional as its evident in the way they play and perform. They are dressed in typical cultural outfits. Lush green plantations and aroma of freshly cooked food will welcome you aboard. Maalga will slowly but surely take over the food scene of Lahore as it still remains untapped. Some of the items on the menu remain high in demand. Maalga Special section offers the best taste in karrahis and kebabs. Their Dumba Karahi is the reason why this restaurant will remain so much in demand. The taste of their plain Chicken and Mutton karrahi varies from regular to exceptional as it’s cooked in desi ghee and mayonnaise. They present the karrahi in a big metal hot plate known as a parat, which is quite unique. Their dressing of kebabs is done with freshly cut vegetables in floral shapes, with scattered mayonnaise. Not to be forgotten, their crisp naans are the size of a bull sprinkled with various condiments such as sesame seeds, garlic and fennel flowers. Also, I feel like it’s because if their desserts, that people keep coming in. Their Gulab Jamuns are their specialty in desserts. They pour Gulab Jamuns from a huge cooking pan with right in front of you that no one can resist. WEAKNESSES — despite the amazing environment and absolutely incredible taste, Maalga’s teas are definitely not their unique selling point. The taste is not up to the mark as demanded by the winter season mostly. As I mentioned how Punjabis crave sweet dishes, their firni smells of overly cooked milk which is not desirable enough to eat. The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, February 2nd 2019.