Taste of Oklahoma: Mediterranean Food Meets Mexican Flair

A hole-in-the-wall Tulsa restaurant is bringing scratch-made dishes and a fusion of food from different cultures to its loyal customers. Tikka Kabab at 41st and Garnett combines Mediterranean food with Mexican and Indian flair.

Wednesday, March 27th 2024, 5:13 pm

By: News On 6


A hole-in-the-wall Tulsa restaurant is bringing scratch-made dishes and a fusion of food from different cultures to its loyal customers.

Tikka Kabab at 41st and Garnett combines Mediterranean food with Mexican and Indian flair. Tikka Kabab’s owner is also the chef, and everything he does is from the heart and scratch. He said he loves cooking for his community and hopes people give his fusion of flavors a shot.

This morning was the start of a busy day for Khalid Lak, slicing potato after potato to make the freshest fries possible. Khalid goes by Kevin, and inside his kitchen at Tikka Kabab, a rotisserie of lamb gyro meat is rotating and getting browned and crispy.

It’ll be added to a plethora of dishes.

“2-3 hours, it cooks from the outside and you start cutting then," Kevin said.

Tikka Kabab is mainly Mediterranean, but Kevin also uses Indian and Mexican spices and has fusion recipes.

“Kebab tacos and falafel burritos.”

The fusion idea was the brainchild of Kevin’s business partner, Nadeem Murad. When the two met several years ago, Kevin was operating a breakfast spot here and Nadeem thought Tulsa needed something different.

“It has to be different, it has to be unique, that's how the idea of Tikka Kabab came to be,” said Nadeem.

Everything at Tikka Kabab is certified Halal and the meat comes from Omaha, Nebraska. His tikka chicken marinates in several spices overnight before it gets crispy on the flattop.

Kevin also has lots of vegetarian options like his handmade falafel, and he makes all of his sauces from scratch, like the spicy green raita sauce, or the classic yogurt sauce, tzatziki, which completes just about every dish here. Kevin’s journey to opening restaurants in Tulsa hasn’t been easy.

He is Kurdish from Iraq and moved to America 3 decades ago.

" I was in the Gulf War. After the war, I ended up in Saudi Arabia for two years and eight months, POW.”

After years, Kevin was finally freed and reunited with his family and five-year-old son, who he had never met.

They moved to New York City and took a bus to Oklahoma shortly after.

"Thank god I have a family of 2 boys and a girl.”

Kevin’s perseverance and hard work doesn’t go unnoticed by customers.

“The hard part is trying to figure out what you want.”

Randy, a regular, has been coming here since the opening 7 years ago and swears by just about everything.

 “Tikka chicken is the best," Randy said. "He's got a sauce called raita, that's something you want to put on..”

Kevin cooked me a sampling of the lamb meat, his tikka chicken, seasoned white rice, red pepper hummus, and more. The raita sauce packs a spicy punch.

The gyro meat is bursting with flavor, and even better topped with the tzatziki. The dishes here are fully customizable. You can load up the meat of your choice with toppings like corn, rice, sauteed veggies, garbanzo beans and any of the flavorful sauces.

Add a slice of baklava for the perfect sweet note at the end.

"On the reviews, the feedback is, the owner is great, the owner is amazing," said Nadeem. "They're talking about Khalid because he's the face here.”

Kevin loves getting to know his customers and bringing them joy with his dishes, even though never cutting corners can be hard work.

“You have to love what you do," Kevin said. "This is not for everybody.”

So whether you’re craving Mexican food, a burger, a gyro or something completely different, Tikka Kabab hopes to be the answer to all cravings.

“The work we put into it the food shows it in the end," said Nadeem.

We're always looking for unique, special restaurants all over Green Country. 

You can send an email to Kristen.weaver@griffin.news with recommendations or follow the food Instagram Kristeats

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