“Ohoho, he got himself the chicken maroosh!”
“Yeah, you know it!” I reply to a glowing metre maid standing behind me in the lunchline, unwilling to let on I was in virgin territory. I just got my order called up at a legendary West Philadelphia sandwich shop, Saad’s Halal Restaurant: a Middle Eastern lunch spot with cafeteria-style fixed tables—trapped in the early 90s—and several plaques on the walls informing customers not to talk on their cell phones. I grab my panini pressed sandwich from the cash counter, and immediately know I ordered well. Bright pickles and a sprinkle of parsley sit atop daubs of creamy garlic; and thick slices of tomatoes slant over chunky chicken cubes, all peeking out from a long hoagie roll. On my way back to the table I notice the people queued up for lunch looking at me with genuine respect, as if I had just helped an elderly lady cross the street.
The metre maid throws a glance at the chicken maroosh and hums a passionate “Mhhmmm!” I feel a strange sense of accomplishment. It has been a while since I made someone look so happy. It turns out, all I needed to do was order the right sandwich.
can usually be found eating a crisp ghee roast with extra podi. The rare times his hands aren’t busy with food, they are wrapped around a mystery novel or the handlebars of a motorcycle. He is Assistant Editor at National Geographic Traveller India.
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