Eat Here: Pakistani Backyard Barbecue Comes to Bushwick at BK Jani

Seekh kebab photo via BK Jani's Instagram
Seekh kebab
photo via BK Jani’s Instagram

The outside spaces at Brooklyn bars and restaurants have been shrouded under tarps for months now, but Bushwick’s BK Jani isn’t hostage to the weather. That’s because (while still served on sturdy paper plates) all the food emerges from an indoor grill, with a line of picnic tables abutting an enclosed kitchen.

Taking its name from the Urdu term of endearment, jani (translated to “honey,” “sweetheart” or “darling,”) the laissez-faire spot was opened last October by longtime Brooklynite, Sibte Hassan, who sought to emulate the food culture of his native Pakistan, which emphasizes the importance of eating socially and sharing meals. Taking his cue from an equally American tradition, he settled on the concept of a convivial backyard barbecue, although one permanently sheltered within a ceiling and four walls, all adorned with word magnets, hand-scrawled reviews, and murals painted by local artists.

Shuttled out at a leisurely pace, meals at BK Jani ideally begin with a palm-sized cup of (vegan) lentil soup, redolent of floral coriander and robust cumin, followed by a platter of free range chicken tikka, pasture raised lamb chops or Seekh kebabs made with Pat LaFrieda beef—all halal, of course, and generously cross-hatched with char. Instead of being artfully arranged, each occupies its own little island on a sea of disposable dishware, and is surrounded by smashed potatoes, seasonal veggies, herbaceous chutney, cool cucumber raita and a griddle-blistered round of flaky paratha, a bread comprising tissue-thin layers of oil-moistened dough. An alternative order is that classic cookout staple, the hamburger—although, once massaged with Indian spices, it’s more akin to swollen kofte, and comes dressed with grilled tomatoes and beads of tangy yogurt.

There isn’t even a cutesy cocktail program to detract from the chill atmosphere; the restaurant supplies soda, but is otherwise BYOB. So equip your table with six-packs or a bottle or two of wine, and be a jani, why don’t you: Share a glass with all of your newly minted friends.

276 Knickerbocker Avenue, Bushwick


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