About a year ago, I was in Oklahoma City running errands, and discovered Sheesh Mahal. I came across this Middle Eastern restaurant by chance, as I was looking on Restaurant.com for a place to eat lunch. If you’ve never used restaurant.com, I highly recommend it. You buy gift certificates that give you 50% off of your meal once you spend a certain amount of money, and they often offer bulk certificates on Living Social and Deal Chicken. Through those bulk certificates I’ve amassed over $600 of restaurant.com certificates. It has been a huge win for the blog, as I’ve found many fantastic restaurants I never knew about or never would have tried otherwise.
Sheesh Mahal is one of those restaurants. During my first visit I absolutely fell in love, and vowed to take my parents on their next visit. We never made it there last summer, so when they were visiting for Christmas and we were in OKC doing furniture shopping, it was a perfect combination. It’s very easy to miss the restaurant if you don’t know where you’re going, as there are other business-type buildings on either side and a neighborhood across the street. The building certainly does not win any curb appeal awards on the outside or the inside, but it’s the food that counts, right?
The restaurant is not very large inside, seating maybe 40. They do also have a covered patio out front that probably doubles the restaurant’s capacity. They’ve changed the inside since my last visit, moving the order counter to the right side and adding space for a lunch buffet which I’m guessing is only weekdays, since it was covered on Saturday.
You order at the counter, take a seat, and they bring the food to you. We arrived well after the lunch rush, which for us was good so we could take our time deciding what to get. And with 3 of us not knowing what we wanted, it took a long time. On both visits, the cashier/server was extremely patient and friendly. Even more important, they were both very knowledgeable about all of the dishes. You always find that at high-end restaurants, not so much at more casual restaurants. But because of the unique cuisine, it behooves them to know their stuff. They are also very good about making recommendations based on what you are looking for: meat/vegetarian, spicy/no spice, etc.
After what seemed like endless questions, thought, and decisions, we finally placed our order and sat down. Just a few minutes later, a server came out with a tray of beverages, and offered them to everyone in the restaurant. I asked what it was, but he had really broken English so the only thing I understood was “tea”
This was served lukewarm. I was expecting hot, so that kind of threw me off. Then again, I don’t think they could have served hot tea in a glass cup. It had good flavor, but I do wish it had been hot.
We got Gol Gappay as an appetizer
This dish was served cold. We were all taken aback, as we were expecting a hot appetizer. Surprise aside, these were delicious. They were almost like poppers, and the sauce was light and sweet.
My mom went with the mixed vegetable curry
The bowl came to the table steaming hot, which is perfect for my mom. I tried a bite of the curry, and it was excellent. Light, but full of rich flavors.
My dad doesn’t do spice at all. If he eats something even remotely spicy, his forehead starts to sweat. It doesn’t take long either, and before long he’s wiping his brow. He narrowed his options down to 2 choices, and eventually picked the Aloo Bangan, a potato and eggplant dish. The server warned him it was a little spicy, but he decided to go with it
After one bite he started sweating. We reminded him that he chose the dish, and the server had warned him. The potatoes weren’t as spicy so he did eat those.
I had gotten the green masala rice last time, so we opted for something with a little more punch this time. We got the vegetable Biryani rice
The rice was delicious. It was, however, a little spicier than I expected, and therefore too spicy for my dad. We then got an order of roti to help cool everything down
The roti looks very similar to roti you get in Trinidad, but this one was much thinner. It did take a little while to get the order, and I when I flagged down the server to ask, she said it would be out very shortly. It did come out just a couple of minutes later, and we realized that they make the roti to order, and it takes a little time. We were rewarded with a hot, fresh product so we really couldn’t complain. And it did the trick to cool down the heat of the other dishes.
On my last visit I had the channa chicken. I know the purpose of repeat visits is to try something new. I really wanted to do that, and went back and forth about 10 times between it and the butter chicken. But it was so delicious last time that I couldn’t help myself. I justified it by recognizing we had ordered a different appetizer, different rice, and bread
This dish is so good. As I said in my last post, this might be one of the best curries I’ve ever had. I believe they use yogurt in their curry to produce the wonderfully smooth, velvety texture. It has such a good depth of flavor and, while it is spicy, it’s not overpowering. One the one hand I really like that it’s not a huge portion like so many restaurants. But on the other hand, I could easily eat twice that and be a very happy person.
As we were eating, my mom got the menu again, and ordered food for dinner. I honestly can’t remember what she ordered, and I didn’t take a picture because the presentation never comes out the same when the food is in a styrofoam container. But she did say it was delicious.
When we first arrived, there were only 2 other tables of guests there. But as I mentioned earlier, we were there well after the lunch rush. As we ate, several other groups came in to eat. A couple of them are definitely regulars, because they knew exactly what they wanted. Also, the owner called a few of them by name. That’s a sign of a great restaurant.
Sheesh Mahal is definitely on my list of top restaurants in Oklahoma City. Next time I’m going to try really hard to branch out and try a different entree.