Second Helpings

House of Kabob

For twenty years, House of Kabob has been jammed into this strip mall on Colorado Boulevard, tangled up with other Middle Eastern markets and restaurants. That's twenty years of Persian cuisine, twenty years of kabobs and lamb tongue and herbed yogurt and pita. And while the room -- done in regal purple, with pale wood tables and booth-backs -- shows its age, it's still comfortable, the kind of place where it's easy to settle in and waste an entire afternoon. I stopped in last week for another hit of Middle Eastern cuisine, one born of spice caravans and killing desert heat, and enjoyed another regional discursion based on dolmas, pita, sheep and yogurt. In this version, everything is rough: rough-chopped peppers burnt on the grill; rough-cut chunks of lamb, sliced small and fatty and tumbled into folded pitas along with big chunks of charred onion and charred tomato turned sweet and wet in the heat. For the fool mudammas, fava beans are marinated in garlic, lemon and olive oil, then topped with big slices of onion and rough-chopped herbs. This is peasant food in the purest sense, ancient and unchanged by a Colorado area code, spiked here with posh threads of saffron, there with raisins, dried lime, walnuts and pomegranate. Such traditionalism runs unbroken through House of Kabob. There are no cheeseburgers on the menu, no falafel poppers. And though House of Kabob does serve Lebanese coffee and Mountain Dew, it also offers doogh -- a water-thinned yogurt drink, cool but not cold, heavily salted, shot with black pepper and dry mint that tastes like oregano, traditionally left to ripen a couple of days in the sun before being served, but here dosed with soda water to get that cutting edge of fermented carbonation. It's an acquired taste for the American palate, but it's a taste of home for displaced Middle Easterners.
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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan