King of cardamom
Kabab Hut6661 Stanford Ranch Rd.
Rocklin, CA 95677
Winning Pakistani food in Rocklin? Absolutely.
Nestled in an unassuming shopping center at the corners of Fairway and Stanford Ranch, you’ll find an equally unassuming little restaurant called Kabab Hut (spelled with two A’s, or your maps app won’t find it). Clean and friendly, it emanates the fragrance of grilled chicken and Pakistani-Indian spices. After opening in June, Kabab Hut is perhaps Rocklin’s best kept dining secret.
Walking through the door, guests are greeted by simple but warm decor and the grinning face of chef-owner Guddu Haider, famous in San Francisco for opening a series of popular restaurants.
While the offerings at Kabab Hut are a mix of Pakistani and Indian cuisines, Haider himself is from Pakistan, so his fare leans more heavily toward the meat-friendly side of the subcontinent. The menu’s Indian influence provides a generous vegetarian selection, which includes the ubiquitous veggie samosas and an intensely comforting daal masala. Spicy-food-lovers will be happy here, though the kitchen will tone down the heat for more sensitive guests. Two house sauces on every table—creamy yogurt-mint and sweet tamarind—add flavor while tempering the heat.
Kabab Hut does have a good selection of kebabs served on sputtering-hot metal plates and billowing steam like meaty, fragrant fireworks. The char-grilled kebabs tended toward the dry side, but I found a few other items on the menu more compelling.
The kitchen takes a creative approach to standard pillars of subcontinental cooking, such as lamb korma and chicken tikka masala, as well as a wide array of fish dishes. Haider’s tandoori fish made with huge chunks of tender grilled fish and piled high with smoky bell peppers, onions and cilantro was especially seductive paired with his crisp, pillowy naan.
Perhaps the most comforting dish on the menu is the chicken tikka masala, which is anything but standard here. A creamy, highly seasoned tomato sauce hides a treasure trove of whole pistachios, providing a satisfying crunch, something most chefs seem to forget when producing this Indian mainstay.
The savory fare is well worth the trip, but there is one other aspect of Kabab Hut some diners may miss: the selection of down-home Pakistani-Indian desserts, dishes you normally would not find anywhere but your Pakistani auntie’s kitchen table. With housemade rice pudding, vanilla custard with fruit chunks, sweet cheese dumplings soaked in cream and cardamom, and Indian-style ice cream, make sure you save room for a little something-something after dinner.
It’s exciting to see a diversity of flavor becoming more available east of Sacramento, where locals deserve an impressive meal on par with those found in dining capitals like San Francisco.