Lahori tandoor finds a home in United States

Haroon Khan knows how to take the heat and stay in the kitchen. The Pakistani chef and his wife, Humaira, have opened Tandoori Grill in Lake George, preparing classic Indian/Pakistani/ Bangladeshi dishes in a traditional tandoor, or clay oven, where temperatures soar to 900 degrees, Post star reported.
Area residents may already be familiar with the restaurant’s name, as the Khans ran Tandoori Grill on Wolf Road in Colonie for three years before closing July 1. Within four days, they found a location on Canada Street and opened for business, serving their specialties, including chicken tandoori, naan made from scratch and chapale kebabs.
“I don’t think any other Indian restaurant (in the area) has this. This is from Peshawar,” Humaira said.
The Khans, who live in Clifton Park, came to the United States on a vacation in 2002 and moved here permanently two years later.
Neither expected to be in the restaurant business. When they settled in Latham in 2004, Haroon worked with his brother, managing a kosher grocery store, but the hours were long. He knew about food, though, having grown up around Food Street in Lahore, a center of traditional Pakistani cuisine, and having observed what other chefs were doing. He also worked in a few restaurants “as a hobby.”
Humaira, who was a physician in Pakistan, planned to practice medicine here. She had hoped to study for the licensing exam to practice in the US, but felt she needed to be available for her young children at the time her husband was managing the store.
Now that her husband has become a chef/business owner, Humaira said her priority is to help establish a foothold with the restaurant, a family effort that also involves the three kids, ages 17, 16 and 9.
“I decided it was time to sacrifice and for the time being, I let (Haroon) be stable and then I will do my work,” she said. “We need to get a team, because he is alone. If you don’t have anybody from your family (to help), you lose the business,” she said.
The Khans pride themselves on having reasonably priced, fresh, authentic halal (kosher) food prepared in the traditional tandoor. Entrees range from $6.99 for the two-piece chicken seekh kebab to $14.99 for the lamb boti fry. The spice level can be adjusted to suit American tastes.
“We have a scale of 1 to 10. They can give us a number and then chef will make the food accordingly,” Humaira said.
Humaira said she has made pakoras for a past World Awareness Children’s Museum fundraiser. The appetizers are deep-fried fritters made with chickpea flour, spices and mixed vegetables with mint and tamarind sauces on the side.
In keeping with the tenets of their Muslim religion, no alcohol is served at the restaurant. Instead, there are a variety of juices; soda; and the house favorites, lassi — a smoothie made with mango, yogurt and cream — and Kashmiri chai, a pink tea.
“We have found a very good response, especially from locals, plus all the customers from Albany who are Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi — they love our food,” Humaira said.

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