[Senaa Hussain (from left), Nehad Alani, Abdul Alani and Layla Alani invite people to try authentic Mediterranean fare at the newly opened Kabab Buffet, 1307 E. Main St., St. Charles.]
Alani credits the recipes to his mother, saying the dishes are the food he was raised on. On hand to translate was his youngest daughter, Layla, who just completed her sophomore year at St. Charles East High School.
Abdul Alani said he also learned to cook while in the Army, serving as a high-ranking officer in the Iraqi military, working with U.S. forces. He was away from home for long stints, and when the military food was lacking, he said he would head into the Army kitchen to make his remembered favorites, garnering appreciation among the U.S. soldiers he shared them with.
He gained formal restaurant experience from his partnership with family members in a restaurant in Cairo, Egypt.
Now he operates Kabab Buffet with his wife, Nehad, of Egyptian heritage, and the help of their children: a son and three daughters, who include Layla, the youngest.
On the regular menu are appetizer staples including baba ghanoush, tabbouleh salad, hummus and yogurt salad with cucumbers. Tender beef and chicken kebabs are grilled over charcoal.