Maiwand Grill offers cheap, quick Afghan food as an alternative to The Helmand

City Paper

After our long period of reporting on the Karzai family for the “Exile on Charles St.” story a few weeks back (Feature, March 4), we were going through aushak withdrawal and craving Afghan food, but we finished that story with a thin wallet and a thick belly and couldn’t afford The Helmand anymore. So we were happy to see that Maiwand Grill, which already has a place in Burtonsville, has opened a cheaper, quicker place to get Afghan food on West Baltimore Street.

It has a full menu of kabobs (lamb, beef, tandoori shrimp), but we got stuck on the appetizers, which are more of what we think of when we think Afghan food. As expected, the aushak is the standout. The ravioli, stuffed with scallions and topped with yogurt sauce and optional ground beef, might not be quite as good as it is at The Helmand, but an only slightly smaller portion for $3.99 is hard to beat. The pumpkin kadu is also not quite as good as it is at The Helmand, but again, it’s only $3.99, and it comes with ground beef on top—a bit of a strange combination, as our companion remarked, with the cinnamon flavors, but it was actually a nice touch. The bolani ($3.99), a fried pastry stuffed with potatoes, was a bit of a letdown; the dish felt more like a samosa than the vegetarian samosas ($4.49), which were something more like little French pastries than what you’d normally expect from Afghan cuisine. And the almost-gooey tandoori bread ($1.69) could have used some more time in the tandoor. But the green pea and potato curry ($3.99) had a nice kick to it.

It’s not only great to have another Afghan place, but to have a new restaurant on this stretch of Baltimore Street, where the dining choices are slowly diversifying and moving beyond the corner carry-out. It’s a kind of fast-food-y décor, but there are big windows with nice views onto a fascinating strip of the city. We’ll be back for the kabobs at some point, but, for now, we’re happy to be able to find a cheaper version of some of our fancy favorites. 

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