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Nine at night in Normal Heights: Khaled Waleh is trying to explain just what Afghan pizzas are.

This place, Zia Gourmet Pizza (3311 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights, 619-284-4320) is his vehicle to bring Afghani tastes in food to a town that has only heard about its wars.

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Zia's: Afghan-flavored pizzas for Normal Heights

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Me, I've just had a delicious $3 slice of potato pizza...

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While Khaled's regular customer Daaiyah chomps...

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Khaled's li'l sister Somiyah brings a combo plate of Eggplant pizza and New Yorker turkey pastrami pizza.

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Me, I’m hooked on the look of this Eggplant pizza. “It’s the most Afghan of them all,” Khaled says. “Eggplant is one of our main foods, and so is the Indian-style raita salty yogurt we put in. And the cranberries.”

Wow. Cranberries and yogurt in a pizza? Definitely a South Asia thing.

I pick it up and bite in. Oh yeah. Any doubts evaporate. Squishy eggplant, scallions, tomato, those cranberries, red sauce, mozzarella, and splotches of the savory yogurt sauce. The combo is, well, rico suave. And the yogurt, cranberry eggplant combo makes you think of Persia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India. Who knew, what stories a pizza tells?

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Zawzaw the Burmese chef with owner Khaled

There’s so much more to tell. Khaled is working on a cool lounge behind his main pizza room. And soon, they’ll be getting a wine and beer license…d’argh! Too much to tell. Check for a full Tin Fork, soon as I can.

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Comments
3

I love eggplant on pizza - I'm going to have to try this place out!

March 30, 2012

I used to eat at Zia all the time when I lived around the corner. Khaled is a really nice guy and the 'za is pretty tasty too. It can take forever if you order a whole pie, but the slices come up pretty quickly.

March 30, 2012

Afghanistan is in Central Asian not south asia and it has nothing in common with india or pakistan either culturally or otherwise. The owner suggests his yogurt sauce is similar to some indian item as a way of making it relatable to Americans who do not know Afghan food. Afghanistan's cuisine far predates india's and yogurt sauces are common in Afghan cuisine, they are not borrowed from anywhere.

Jan. 16, 2019

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