During Ramzan, Jama Masjid area in Old Delhi, is thronged by foodies from all walks of life, besides the Muslims to enjoy the delicacies the locality has to offer. Then there is this Zakir Nagar, perhaps the poor cousin, relatively lesser known and lesser explored. So, this year, I decided to visit the lanes of Zakir Nagar, a locality nested between the posh colonies of Maharani Bagh and New Friends Colony in South Delhi.
My two attempts failed over two weeks. My colleague, Attulah Shaiikh, jokingly said perhaps the forces of Jama Masjid were not allowing me to go. So, to please those forces, I paid a whirlwind visit to the lanes of Jama Masjid and paid my foodie obeisance. So, last Sunday me and Attah (as we fondly call him) landed there at around 7 in the evening. The temperature at that time of the day was around 42°. The place was hustling with the locals. Everyone, post Iftari (the feast post breaking the fast) was thronging on the food outlets. There was festivity and the aroma of food in the air. Spread over a period of about two hours we covered around 7-8 outlets of different items. While I introduce you to these outlets and their offerings, this write up can also serve as an itinerary guide for your own food walk. So, come along.
We entered from the New Friends Colony side (leaving our vehicle at the entrance and walked down) into the Main Road, Zakir Nagar (don’t get confused with the word Main Road; its actually a lane).
Talib Kabab Corner
We started walking and this is the first outlet that comes on your left. This one has a small signboard and operates out of a basement which has an opening on this lane. Its like blink-and-miss-it types. So be watchful that you don’t miss it. We ordered a plate of Buff Kebabs. The service is fast. Four reasonably big sized kebabs with hues of goldenish brown are served with sliced onion rings, Mint Chutney and a lemon wedge. The plate gives you an aroma of barbecued meat with a whiff of spices. The first bite itself tells you the Kebabs are crispy on the outside and Melt-In-Mouth inside. Mildly spiced kebabs are quite juicy and a delight for the palate. This is a perfect starter to arouse your appetite.
As soon as we cross Talib, there is this Lassi Shop. Flag this one. We shall come back.
Lucknowi Galawati Kabab Restaurant
This one again comes on the left side, moving a little ahead of the Lassi Shop. You can’t miss this one. It has a big backlit blue signboard. Even in that heat, the place was doing brisk business. We ordered a half plate of Buff Shami Kebabs with Ulta Tawa Parantha. These two brownish beauties sat in the plate giving out aroma of fat infused shallow fried kebabs. True to the name, the Kebabs were super soft, mildly spiced, had a balanced flavour of meat and the gramflour. I squeezed a few drops of the lemon over the galawati and the taste enhanced many notches. Went very well with the thin and crispy parantha. This one was quite delicious and satisfying. So, what next?
Madina Biryani Centre
We walked a little ahead and on our right was this outlet with big Aluminium Caldrons popping out of the opening. When enquired, he made us peep into all the Caldrons as if introducing us to the variants of Mutton/ Buff/ Chicken Biryani. We ordered half a portion of Buff Biryani. Even the half portion was huge. A heep of long grained aromatic rice with meat morsels peeping out sat in a plate. One spoonful of the rice told you that each grain was distinct, well cooked and coated with flavours of spices. It was aptly moist, almost non-greasy and very flavourful. The meat pieces, as per my favourite test, when taken out, shed the rice grains and came out clean. Super succulent and flavourful. Over all a very flavourful and satisfying Biryani. I had heard that they also do a “Daleem Biryani”. That particular day they were sold out on that. Never mind, there is always a next time.
Pahalwan Ji Lassi Corner
Remember the Lassi Shop, next to Talib Kabab, I asked you to flag ? Now is the time to go back there. Having downed spiced Kebabs, Galawati and Biryani in the heat, you now needed a cold Lassi to soothe yourself. This hand churned Lassi was a delight to enjoy. Served in an earthen tumbler, super chilled, came topped with a thick layer of Malai and a few drops of Roohafza. The churned yoghurt had a thick consistency and was aptly sweet. A very satisfying glass of this desi drink made us ready for the next stop.
Javed Ki Famous Nahari
Walking back towards our Galawati and Biryani outlets, we crossed those two and reached the first Masjid on our left. We crossed that too and just short of the second Masjid in that lane, on the left side itself, there was this Nihari outlet, perched atop a few steps flight. The moment you reach inside, you realise it is quite big, as compared to the other outlets we had visited that evening. As soon as we settled down, a server took our order. The service was super fast. In no time, a plate of Nihari and Khamiri Roti arrived. The curry had the hues of goldinish brown with a garnish of chopped green chillies and a layer of Desi Ghee. A spoonful on the palate first gives you the aroma and flavour of Ghee, followed by the fat of the meat, spices, punch of green chilli and the meat. The meat was in shape but I could slice a morsel without any effort. It was super soft and creamy in the mouth. Soon it vanished off. Khamiri Roti was quite aromatic and fresh. Both complimented each other very well. Finishing off one plate of Nihari was quite a challenge as it was quite rich, heavy and yet full of flavours.
Ashraf Kheer and Falooda
We were done with our food adventures and were full to the hilt. But wait, what about the dessert ? So, on our way back, we halted at the first Masjid. Within the outer wall of the Masjid, there housed an unnamed Rabri Falooda Shop. We ordered one portion which was served in a blood red plastic glass. The Falooda along with crushed ice was topped up with a generous helping of Rabri and a few drops of Rose Sherbet. Again, it was aptly cooled, rightly sweetened and a well balanced dessert. The Rabri had a thick consistency and complemented the Falooda very well.
Haji Imran Sheermal
On our way back, right opposite our Biryani Shop was this outlet doing a brisk business. I was told that they make some excellent Sheermals which are quite favourite with the locals. I tasted a piece which was quite good. Topped up with dry fruits it was a class of a sweet flatbread. I asked the owner if I could click a picture, since I wasn’t buying. He smiled and was more than forthcoming. So, a quick clicks and we were done.
By now we were completely drenched with sweat, tired and fully tanked up. But wait, I missed on one thing.
Before we started our food walk, Attah insisted that we start with a glass of Dates Shake. Diagnolly opposite that Rabri Falooda shop is this Juice shop. Served in a glass mug, this was chilled, quite sweetened with the infusion of real dates in it. The sweetness had that sharpness of dates which makes it quite an interesting concoction with the milk. In fact it was a perfect start to our food walk.
I am purposely posting this blog post Eid so that one can go there at any point of time during the year and enjoy the offerings of these outlets. These are permanent fixtures in that lane and do not just pop up during the festival. So, let the weather cool down a bit and take a walk. You would love it and I would love to hear it from you. Yes, there are a few more, but on the other end of the lane. So, something for the next time….till then…
Bon Appetite !!