Monday, March 30, 2009

Dilpasand Mithai and Snacks

6121 Hillcroft, Suite T1

Note: There is a second location of this business in the Mission Centre, 14621 Beechnut, just west of Hwy 6, next to the Desi Food Warehouse.

UPDATE July 2013:  I have been advised the Hillcroft location of Dilpasand is closed for renovation.   The Hillcroft location has re-opened after renovations.
UPDATE: A visit to the second location which has only been open a few months. I was in the area hoping to try a new place that wasn't open so decided to hit this place. I flipped a coin to decide between this and the Chandkara Grill inside the Desi World Food Center next door.

The gyro machine was out of order so I couldn't try a gyro. Since my initial somewhat bewildering and disappointing first bun kebab I've learned they're very popular street food snacks and I thought maybe I had just gotten a mediocre one so decided to try one here. It proved to be a good choice. It came out in just a few minutes, piping hot (which the other one wasn't) and a lot more flavorful. It looked an awful lot like a drug store hamburger which is just fine with me, with still chilled onion, lettuce and tomato plus the chutney, and a lot less if any ketchup. It was very good, an excellent snack and at probably less than half the calories of a similarly sized burger. I believe the patty is primarily lentils.

While I was waiting the clerk offered me several sample tastes of the barfi - 7 different flavors, in fact. I couldn't believe it. I wound up buying some, walnut, almond, coconut and one other that looks like it's got raisins.

They have several flavors of ice cream and will be adding kulfi this autumn.

I’d never noticed this place before - it’s in one of those u-shaped strips, back from the street and not facing Hillcroft - but the other day a banner on the front of the building proclaiming ‘Halal Gyros’ caught my eye as I drove by. Halal gyros in an Indian sweet shop? I thought this deserved further investigation.

On entering the store a smile crossed my face at the sight of the glass cases with tray after tray of colorful barfees and other sweets. In the back of the room is a snack bar with a couple of tables along the wall, but it was not open for business on my first visit.

A menu board over the glass cases lists the sweets but the man behind the counter was very congenial and cheerfully answered all my questions. I selected 5 pieces of barfee (their spelling), made a note of as many other offerings as I could, and happily went on my way.

The barfee here is very moist, more fudge-like than cheese cake-like, and very good. From the lower left, clockwise, I got the plain, injeer (fig), coconut, pistachio and carrot. The flavorings are subtle; by the time I got home I forgot what one of them was and had to almost finish the pistachio before I figured it out. These were not as densely textured nor as intensely flavored as the burfi I’ve had at Bhojan but I liked them; my favorites were the fig and carrot.

Barfees are $7.99 a pound. That box was just over half a pound so expect about 9 pieces to a pound. You can mix and match. Ghulab Jamons are $6.99 a pound; there are samoosas for $.75 each, parathas, a small breakfast menu, 6 flavors of ice cream ($1.99 for 2 scoops), 3 lassis ($1.99), fruit drinks and shakes, and many other items.

I couldn’t find out much about the place online but the business card says ‘at your service for 50 years.’ In Houston??? One reviewer on Yelp raves about the barfee, another on another site also likes the barfee but says the gyros are sh.. Being from a long line of DIYers, I had to try something from the snack bar for myself so I went back another day.

The snack bar is apparently called Halal Gyro Hut and it has a very small menu. I should know better than to order from a fast food picture menu and expect to get anything like what is pictured but the Bun Kabob Combo, a hamburgerish like offering, looked good; the friendly older man at the counter asked if I wanted it spicy and smiled when I said ‘Oh yes!’

The sandwich was called a kabob but was nothing like what I think of as a kabob; it was a vegetarian patty on a sesame seed bun, topped with shredded lettuce and onion, a generous sprinkle of garlic powder and black pepper and some other spice (which was probably the source of the slight spiciness) and a red sauce that I hoped was the source of some real heat but tasted like ketchup to me. In fact ketchup was the most prominent taste I got. I was disappointed in the texture of the patty. The fries were beautifully golden, sprinkled generously with garlic and black pepper but needing salt, wonderfully crispy on the outside but mush on the inside. I got more ketchup with them.

Now I’d probably rather have another one of these than be forced to go to, say, Sonic, but I’ll stick to the sweets here in the future. The snack menu also includes wings and nuggets, a grilled fish plate, a gyro and a gyro burger and a few other items.

Puzzled by that ‘50 years’ claim I was looking around online and came upon Dilpasand Sweets in Karachi which the website says has been in business since 1949. It says there are locations in several countries but doesn’t specify any so I’m not sure if this Houston store is related or simply borrowed the name. The menu online is considerably larger than in the store and it’s helpful - click on the thumbnails for larger pictures and names of the various treats.

Next door to Dilpasand on Hillcroft is the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Halal grocery which I’d also never noticed before, named for the Gulshan-e-Iqbal neighborhood of Karachi. I’ll have to go back and check it out.

I’ve always been intimidated by the plethora of sweets displayed at Bombay Sweets on Hillcroft on the other side of 59 and since I found the buffet there mediocre I’ve only been twice. This place is less overwhelming, with fewer choices for the novice like me to have to sort out. I appreciate that and I also have to be grateful there isn’t one just down the block from me - I don’t think it would be good for either my pocketbook or my waistline to have a shop like this to be very convenient to drop into.

Edit: I have since learned more about the bun kabob, a popular snack food, and have seen it on a couple of other menus around town but haven't tried it again.


The Travel Addict said...

The times I've been to Bombay Sweets, I look at those big glass cases and wonder, what is all of this and, like you, felt too intimidated. So curious to try out their sweets but... man, what am I looking at???

Zain's Halal Reviews said...

The location on Hillcroft is undergoing renovation

Bruce said...

Thanks for the correction. I corrected the text.