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Kismet in Waterloo is a fusion of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi cuisine

“If you look into the history of the dishes we serve, it originates from when my father started his restaurants in the United Kingdom back in the early 60s."

~ Abufaysal Miah

Johnny Parks photo

At Kismet in Waterloo, their fiery and flavourful ghost curry is so spicy, you have to sign a waiver.

“We claim this dish to be the hottest curry in town,” said Kismet’s co-owner Abufaysal Miah, when my family recently picked up a few vegetarian entrees from the family-owned eatery located in University Plaza.

I told Miah that my family loves spicy South Asian cuisine, but had never tried anything as hot as their ghost curry before.

“This dish is definitely Bangladeshi-worthy,” he said.

“In India and other South Asian countries, they don’t usually eat this spicy, but in Bangladesh, eating spicy at this level is quite normal.”

Along with fresh ghost peppers, Kismet’s ghost curry is a blazing concoction of locally sourced scorpion peppers, scotch bonnets, chocolate habanero and Carolina Reapers that will really make you sweat.

Johnny Parks photo

“We grow these peppers ourselves in our backyard at home,” said Miah.

Kismet also has the best onion bhajis we have ever had that we dipped in their refreshing raita sauce.

“Traditional onion bhajis have a lot more ingredients, but we use flour in ours as opposed to only chickpea flour, which brings out more of the flavour and also makes it crispier,” he said.

Johnny Parks photo

“Our raita on the other hand is pretty straightforward with yogurt, slivered cucumber and a special blend of spices.”

My family also enjoyed Kismet’s citrusy, light and tangy mulligatawny soup, so I asked about their signature recipe.

“We cook our lentils using only three ingredients — that’s it,” said Miah. “And our current recipe is vegan; since we have an ever-changing world, it just makes sense to keep it open to different dietary restrictions.”

Specializing in a variety of curries, specifically creamy curries, Kismet offers a mouth-watering blend of both Indian and Pakistani cuisine.

“If you look into the history of the dishes we serve, it originates from when my father started his restaurants in the United Kingdom back in the early 60s,” said Miah.

“Most of the restaurants were Bangladeshi-owned back then in the U.K., hence the Bangladeshi touch to our cooking style. For as long as I’ve known, we have always labelled our dishes as Indian food but with the Bangladeshi style of cooking.”

Johnny Parks photo

Abufaysal and I talked at length about the history of Kismet Restaurant and their creamy curry dishes.

Marshall: Tell us the origin story of Kismet Restaurant.

Abufaysal: Kismet opened on August 1, 2005, but our history in Waterloo Region didn’t start there. We are the original owners of Koh I Noor Indian restaurant which opened back in 1988 in downtown Kitchener and eventually moved to Waterloo in 1993.

With my father looking to stop selling alcohol due to religious beliefs, he got an opportunity in the University Plaza where we are currently operating as Kismet and didn’t want to pass it up. It has been 18 years since we opened shop and we had a good run for the first 14 years.

It was time for my father to take a break from business and decided to retire leaving the restaurant to all four sons. We took over in 2018, but we had a different vision for the business to open multiple locations. So I went to work simplifying and streamlining operations.

Then, in late 2019 my son fell ill with a rare form of cancer and I had to step away for about a year. Business was now at a stand still while I was taking care of my son. Then a month later all the covid chatter started and we all know what happened for the next two years. As my son was recovering, I came back to a business that was close to shutting the doors due to covid.

As we all know, small businesses, especially restaurants got hit the hardest during covid. We tried to go full on take-out, removing most of our seating area and using only take-out containers, but that didn’t fair so well. It also didn’t help that all the tech companies were working from home and students studying remotely.

Somehow we managed to get through this hiatus, but not without a surmountable debt. Finally, as things going back to how it used to be, we have hope that we can erase this accumulated debt. This year we have plans to turn things around with renos in the works with new decor, tables and chairs and some attention to branding. All this change will be coming soon starting this month in small increments.

We hope to have some new life by late August for a grand reopening. Hopefully this time will be better than before.

Marshall: At Kismet, you specialize in a variety of curries, right?

Abufaysal: Yes, specifically creamy curries. Some of our best sellers are our revamped creamy butter chicken and creamy korma dishes. Don’t forget our pathia dishes and sambas that most likely can not be found at other Indian restaurants in town.

Now when it comes to cultural dishes, I would say the one dish that stands out is definitely the kormas. Back home in Bangladesh, kormas are a staple for parties and weddings. Though the version we offer is a bit different, it still hits the pallet close enough.

Johnny Parks photo

And when it comes to Bangladeshi flavours, let’s lay it all down and be extremely transparent -- we don’t actually serve traditional Bangladeshi food per say. It’s quite complicated. If you look into the history of the dishes we serve, it originates from when my father started his restaurants in the UK back in the early 60s.

Most of the restaurants were Bangladeshi-owned back then in the UK, hence the Bangladeshi touch to the cooking style. As long as I’ve known this business, we have always labeled it as Indian food but with the style of cooking as Bangladeshi.

Johnny Parks photo

So what is the Bangladeshi style of cooking you would ask? This is our definition: how we cook at the restaurant when it comes to spicing and ingredient selection is what we call the Bangladeshi style. If today you were to go out and try the many Indian or Pakistani restaurants available in the market, there are a couple things that they cannot do. Number one is they absolutely do not have any mild dishes. No matter what mild dish you ask for, it will be slightly spicy. We specialize in making curries very mild to extremely hot.

Another thing we do that most or all South Asian restaurants don’t do is the variety of dishes. For example I have never seen these following dishes in any South Asian restaurants: chicken and mushroom curry, chicken and vegetable curry, chicken dansak, egg and potato curry, and eggplant bhaji -- we currently don’t offer this but are in plans to bring it back.

Johnny Parks photo

In conclusion, I would label us as Indian food with a Bangladeshi touch. Some may not like this term but more accurately we are a fusion of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladashi. You could also add a touch of Persian with the dish dansak, as it originates there. If you Google "South Asians," it maps a wide range of countries and we definitely hit a lot of those areas with our variety of food.

Marshall: And your customer service is stellar.

Abufaysal: When it comes to customer service, we have come a long way. We have learned from our mistakes and genuinely strive every day to make it better. We feel as though our customer service is honest and always caring. Great customer service always brings the faces back in. Something that we have been told as well is that we like to greet our customers by name when we see them walk through the door.

Johnny Parks photo

If you haven't yet had their food, you owe it to your tastebuds.

Our community should take pride in welcoming entrepreneurs like Miah and his family — and feel lucky to have their family’s delicious recipes to eat.

Johnny Parks photo




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