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New exotic flavors come to downtown with opening of Darbar Palace

Darbar Palace is owned by Ahsan Khalid, left, and his wife Samiye Ahsan, who is holding their 6-month-old daughter Imrana Khalid Ahsan. Mohammad Khan, right, is the manager of the new downtown Fargo restaurant. Dave Wallis / The Forum1 / 3
Beef Tikka Kebab is one of the many flavorful items on the luncheon buffet at Darbar Palace Monday, June 12, 2017, in downtown Fargo. Dave Wallis / The Forum2 / 3
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FARGO—The newest restaurant in downtown Fargo also might have the most exotic mix of dishes in the neighborhood.

Darbar Palace, 402 Broadway, opened Wednesday, June 7, in the space that most recently housed Magnolia's Restaurant until it closed in May.

Owners Ahsan Khalid, a native of Pakistan, and his wife, Samiye Ahsan, who hails from Iran, are bringing the traditional dishes and flavors of their home countries to the restaurant that also serves up Indian and Nepali cuisine.

While Khalid has managed restaurants before, Darbar Palace is his first time opening his own place. He said he thought there could be room for their new eatery in the local restaurant scene because some of the other places that serve up this cuisine aren't making the same traditional items that are new for the region.

"They're not trying something new," he said.

Darbar Palace does offer some well-known dishes, such as the Indian-inspired chicken tikka masala.

But diners will find new options at the restaurant, too, including traditional Pakistani dishes like haleem, a mix of chicken and lentils, and nihari, a slow-cooked gravy with chunks of meat.

Kitchen workers also make a Pakistani-spiced fried rice dish that Khalid said is a mixture of Pakistani and Chinese flavors.

Persian entrees include lamb chops and lamb shanks, as well as salads and soups.

Darbar Palace makes its own naan flatbread in clay ovens and homemade papadum, a thin crisp that hails from India. The menu also includes unique desserts, including halwa, a carrot pudding, as well as baklava, mango pudding and more.

Khalid's brother, Mohammad Khan, serves as manager of the restaurant. He said the business has drawn steady traffic for their lunch buffet, which runs 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends, and the restaurant gets busy in the evenings for dinner.

"We are getting what we expected with the crowd," he said.

Khalid said he hopes the restaurant can cater to the growing number of new Americans in the community who would like to eat dishes from their native countries, but it's also meant as a new dining option for downtown workers, residents and visitors.

He plans to so some special programming and menus during cultural and religious festivals, such as Eid al-Fitr that will mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan on June 24, as well as traditional foods to serve up during Nepali festivals.

"We want this to be a place where people are having a party, a birthday party or a celebration for their newborn kid," he said.

Darbar Palace also offers delivery and catering, Khalid said.

Business profile

What: Darbar Palace

Where: 402 Broadway N., Fargo

Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. daily

Phone: (218) 790-8636

Online: www.facebook.com/darbarpalace

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson is the Features Editor for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He previously wrote for The Forum and the Grand Forks Herald.

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