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This week: Indian and Pakistani

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Bhabi's Kitchen, half a block south of Devon and a block east of Western, serves up a blend of Pakistani and Indian cuisines that reflects the backgrounds of the restaurant's proprietors: chef Qaisera "Bhabi" Qureshi is from the Pakistani side of the Punjab, and her husband, Qudratullah Syed, is from Hyderabad, in southern India. The menu features more than a dozen flatbreads--made from sorghum, millet, corn, chickpea, wheat, and white flours--as well as flavorful dishes like biryani mutton (with goat meat) and an aromatic chana daal. There's a range of possible wine matches, both white and red--though reds are more difficult to pair with spicy food since heat brings out the tannins commonly found in full-bodied red wine. The consulting sommelier on this trip was Yamandu Perez of Gabriel's Restaurant in Highwood.

Bhabi's Kitchen

6352 N. Oakley

773-764-7007

Pappadam (lentil-flour cracker) 1

Complimentary

Jawar, bajrah, makai (sorghum, millet, and corn flatbreads) 1, 4

$1.50 each

Chicken boti (marinated chicken breast cubes cooked in a tandoori oven) 1, 2, 5

$6

Beef samosa 3

$1

Chana daal (chickpeas cooked with herbs and spices) 4

$5

Bhabi's special bagaray baigan (eggplant cooked with spices and chopped nuts) 5

$7

Karahi gosht (cubes of goat meat cooked with onions, tomatoes, and garlic) 3, 6

$7

1. Nonvintage Argyle Brut Sparkling Wine (Oregon), $13. This blend of chardonnay and pinot noir smells of apple blossoms and lemon zest and tastes like green apples and white peaches, with a mild vanilla and yeast finish. It's aged for three years sur lees, or on the yeast sediment, giving it a yeasty, nutty, creamy aroma and texture without sacrificing any of its freshness or acidity. The spice-studded pappadam brings out notes of melon and pear, while the wine cuts through the deep-fried cracker's greasy starchiness to bring the spices to the foreground. It works the same way with the jawar, bajrah, and makai breads. And with the chicken boti it acts as a palate cleanser, refreshing you after each spicy bite. But the heat averse should beware: it also manages to accentuate the sting. (Sam's)

2. 2002 Cuvaison Chardonnay (Napa Valley), $13-$15. If you're looking for something to mitigate the spiciness of that chicken boti, this wine's creamy texture and bold apple and pineapple flavors do the job. Most oaky chardonnays would overpower a simple chicken dish, but this one's fruitiness makes it a nice complement. (Binny's, Sam's)

3. 2000 Domaine Parize Givry "Champ Nalot" (Burgundy), $18. This village in Burgundy's Cote Chalonnaise region produces relatively small quantities of mostly red wines at great prices. The classic flavors of pinot noir come through in this Burgundy--rich cassis and dark berry--and there are hints of clove and earthy mushrooms on the nose. The acidity is relatively high, partially due to the wine's youth, which makes it a nice match for the deep-fried beef samosa--it doesn't get in the way of the spiced meat's complex flavors. The beef shortens the wine's finish a little, though. The wine is just full-bodied enough to pair with the strongly flavored but not-too-hot karahi gosht as well. (Howard's)

4. 2002 Boutari Moschofilero (Mantinia, Greece), $9. This crystal-clear white bursts with fruit and floral notes and has a crisp, clean finish. It smells subtly of white roses and melon, with a lemon-lime overtone, and its orange and grapefruit flavors counterbalance its acidity. Best served chilled, it's nice with the chana daal, redolent of curry spices and fresh flat-leaf parsley. The wine enhances the flavor of the chickpeas, then coats the palate, delaying the kick from the spices. It's great too with the oily and mild jawar, bajrah, and makai. (Binny's, Sam's)

5. 2003 Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand), $15. The sauvignon blanc grape, indigenous to the Loire Valley, found a new home in New Zealand's Marlborough region in the 70s. This vintage exudes an array of fruit flavors, from the traditional gooseberry of most Loire Valley wines to vibrant grapefruit, with a hint of cut grass. Its crisp acidity works well with the chicken boti and, unexpectedly, with the spicy eggplant with crushed nuts. Eggplant's bitterness can make it difficult to match, but this citrusy wine cuts through the oiliness of the sauce and eradicates any bitter flavor. (Wine Discount Center)

6. 2002 St. Hallet Faith Shiraz (Barossa Valley, Australia), $19. The climate in the Barossa Valley is a lot like the Mediterranean's: minimal rainfall and frequently hot temperatures. As a result the wine from the region is big and fruity. This shiraz has characteristic sweet raspberry and cherry flavors, a hint of spice, and some chocolate notes. Its moderate to high tannin level gives it structure and calls for food that isn't shy. The karahi gosht is just the dish: the earthy goat smooths out the wine's tannins and makes it taste fruitier, while the sweetness of the wine tones down the meat's gaminess. This vintage is so big and tannin heavy that it needs to be consumed with food--it's so bitter it would be overpowering otherwise--but don't try drinking it with anything really spicy. Hot food intensifies the tannins, leaving a dry bitterness in the mouth. (Sam's)

Binny's Beverage Depot 213 W. Grand, 312-332-0012

Howard's wine cellar 1244 W. Belmont, 773-248-3766

Sam's Wines and Spirits 1720 N. Marcey, 312-664-4394

Wine Discount Center 1826 N. Elston, 773-489-3454

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