Restaurant News & Reviews

Find a taste of India — Hyderabadi cuisine, to be specific — at Nawabs Kebabs

Clockwise from top left: chicken haleem, chana chaat appetizer, butter chicken, garlic naan bread.
Clockwise from top left: chicken haleem, chana chaat appetizer, butter chicken, garlic naan bread.

The city of Hyderabad in India sends many finance and information tech people to Charlotte. So it’s not surprising that entrepreneurs here are starting to offer Hyderabadi cuisine — including Arshad and wife Ayesha at Nawabs Kebabs.

The couple came from Hyderabad to Chicago initially. Bank of America pulled them to Charlotte in 2008. In their spare time, they launched a butcher shop and grocery just off Mallard Creek Road near the research parks that cluster north of UNC Charlotte.

Arshad named it Holy Joe’s Meats and More. “Holy” because it follows halal practices, the rigorous food preparation rules prescribed in Muslim scripture. “‘Joe’ — that means ‘any Joe’ is welcome,” he says with a smile, “American, Indian, African. Any religion, every ethnic group.”

Ayesha loves to cook, especially a Hyderabad holiday favorite called chicken haleem. It’s a savory main-dish with morsels of pulled chicken in what might be heavy cream — but is actually cooked wheat. Crunchy fried onions, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime top off the bowl.

“My wife would make the chicken haleem for friends, for people we knew in the Indian community,” recalls Arshad. “For five years I kept saying, ‘We should open a restaurant.’ Finally, in 2018, we did.”

Nawabs Kebabs’ decor isn’t fancy, a bare-bones extension of Holy Joe’s. Many customers order to-go, but there’s plenty of eat-in space. Indian families make it a destination on weekends.

The menu is more than chicken haleem, of course. I like the chana chaat, a fresh-tasting appetizer of chickpeas in a light yogurt sauce. And there’s a rich tomato-y dish called butter chicken, a nice balance to the spiciness of the chicken haleem.

And yes, Nawabs Kebabs sells kebabs: beef, chicken or lamb.

Community historian Tom Hanchett writes at HistorySouth.org. Email him: Tom@HistorySouth.org.

Nawabs Kebabs

Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4:30-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.

Location: 10210 Berkeley Place Drive, #120.

Details: 704-910-4716; https://nawabskebabs.com.

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