I work as an on-call nurse at various hospitals around the Melbourne region, and even though Dandenong is an hour's train ride from where I live, I like to take assignments here so I can eat at some of the interesting Afghan restaurants when I'm coming or going. Grand Diamond is one of the best I've come across so far, both for quality of the food and value for money. This place has tasty-looking photo art of Afghan food items on its shiny windows, is clean and airy inside, and the Hazara-looking waitstaff was polite to my Anglo self.
I ordered a dish called Zerishk Palaw, a variety of rice pilaf that had barberries instead of the sultanas. I had never had barberries before. They're a piquant fruit the size of currants, with a taste like cranberries crossed with capers. Interesting. The long-stranded rice in the palaw was cooked perfectly, with every fluffy grain standing on its own instead of clumping. Grand Diamond's kitchen must have cooked up batches of rice in three pots with various seasonings and combined them, because it came out a lovely colour combo of yellow, orange and white. The lamb korma that I chose as the protein for this dish (they also offer beef or chicken korma as options) was mildly spicy. I like hot stuff, so I appreciated the small bowl of red chili sauce that I could spoon onto the rice. There was a small garden salad and an entire cut-up Afghan flatbread too, all for $14. I'm a big eater, but it was so massive that I couldn't finish all the pilaf and bread (took the latter home.) This is one of the tastiest, best bargains of an ethnic meal that I can remember.
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