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Afghan Food at Lajpat Nagar

Sunday, 13 January 2008

I heart EOiD.

It was just a few weeks ago, on December 21 to be precise, while making a plan for Kabuli food in Ballimaran, that it suddenly struck me — surely there were other Afghan restaurants in Delhi? A little googling indicated the existence of such a place in Lajpat Nagar, but there was no mention of the precise location.

So I posted the question on our EOiD community on Orkut, thinking perhaps eventually someone in the know would come along. The response left me stunned — barely had a few hours passed that Manik (yes, the same one who’d pointed me to Nagpal’s Chhole Bhature) wrote back with the name and exact address of the place, with the owner’s cell number to boot!

I had to leave town for a couple weeks though, and didn’t get the chance to check the place out. But I’m hardly the only “enthu-cutlet” in our group, to use Harneet’s adorably school-girlish phrase. Soumya and Surbhi decided to go there soon enough, and wrote back a promising critique.

Within another couple of days an EOiD plan had formed, and sure enough, last Thursday found ten of us standing in Lajpat Nagar, our collective curiosity piqued at such an unusual location for Kabuli food.

In Front of Afghan Restaurant, Lajpat Nagar

The location shouldn’t have been a surprise, actually — Lajpat Nagar is home to almost a hundred Afghan families, many of whom came to Delhi in the early ’90s to escape the chaos of post-Soviet Afghanistan. The number used to be much larger, but the fall of the Taleban has now given several expatriates the confidence to return. Of course, there is still a transient population, often here for medical treatment.

Giving these families of Afghans companionship and a flavour of home are several eating joints in the area. This Indian Express story mentions a place in Bhogal. Manik had earlier taken me to a little corner dhaba in the E Block of Lajpat Nagar-II (close to the Namdhari’s Fresh store) that exclusively makes Afghani naans. Afghani NaanThis is traditional in that country — families often cook the rest of the meal at home, and get the bread from a nearby naanwai (baker).  The naans themselves are quite different from the mughlai concoction we’re used to. They are largely made of fermented wheat flour (atta), not maida. After patting a large chunk of dough into a squat ball, a man dimples it in a grid-like pattern by stabbing it with his fingers. The ball is now put on one edge of a long cloth-covered tablet, and stretched to about half a metre long, to give the afghani naan its distinctive shape. Then the man slaps the loaf onto the inside of the clay oven, where it bakes like any tandoori bread. Stacks of these naans pile up on the ledge, where a stream of old customers stop by before lunch.

The naans we had at the Afghan Restaurant in the Krishna Market of Lajpat Nagar last week were similar. The place has been nicely done up — the tables are widely spaced, giving it an uncluttered, roomy feel that is uncommon for this size of restaurant. Traditional red carpets on several walls lend a plush look, while a large beautifully woven image of Ahmed Shah Masood on another wall is a reminder of the challenges Afghans have long faced in their country. One side is entirely taken up by a raised carpeted platform, where regulars eat at a customary dastar-khwan, read namaaz, or just sit and swap tales.

Our meal began with big platters of salad, with sliced carrots, radish, tomatoes, and fresh leaves of coriander and mint. Several of us had ordered dogh, a sort of salted yoghurt drink made with cucumbers and garnished with fresh mint leaves, that turned out to be delicious. Next up were plates of manto, the Afghani version of dumplings that seem to be popular in all Asian cuisines. The dumplings themselves were identical to the Tibetan momos you get at every other street corner these days, but the difference was that the sauce was made of tomatoes and yoghurt, and wasn’t at all hot.

At Afghan Restaurant, Lajpat NagarUnderstated spices and the absence of oiliness was common to all the dishes we had that night, which made them both easier on the palate and lighter on the stomach than the typical mughlai meal you get in Delhi. We enjoyed the chicken qorma, as well as the two vegetarian dishes we ordered (of a possible three) — baingan (eggplant) and paalak (spinach). Again, the baingan was served in a rich yoghurt and tomato sauce, reflecting the importance of those two ingredients in Afghani cuisine.

A large platter of very nicely done burra kababs was wolfed down in no time, the kababs having been cooked to a perfect tenderness. The tandoori chicken was delightfully flavorsome, though we were hard put to pin-point exactly what made it so tasty. The best I could say was that the chicken must have been marinaded for a long time, which allowed the spices to seep well into the meat. But there was something different about the exact combination of spices too, which I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Another popular dish were the dashi kabaabs, a sort of mutton-do-pyaaza served in an onion gravy.

But what I liked most that night was the Qabuli Pulao. Made from exceptionally long-grained rice, in a mutton stock that lent its brown colour to the grains, the pulao had been cooked to perfection, with the soft grains nicely separated out. A generous addition of slivers of carrot along with a sprinkling of raisins gave the qabuli pulao its signature sweetness, and a bowl of kofta curry made for an excellent accompaniment.

It’s a pity that in the confusion of placing such a large order, we missed out on asking for another rice dish, the kofta chelow, which Soumya had recommended from his previous trip.

Several EOiD members who missed out on the outing have been clamouring for another chance to go there, and I myself hardly need another reason to go. Only this time, I’m planning to sit at the dastar-khwan and make some kabuliwallah friends of my own!

Inside Afghan Restaurant, Lajpat Nagar

Location: The restaurant is a small affair located at H-7, Krishna Market, Lajpat Nagar-I, about 50 odd metres away on the opposite side of the road from the large Gurdwara that is a landmark there. Not far from the railway crossing between Lajpat Nagar and Jangpura. Few people in the neighbourhood know of its existence, but you should look out for a signboard with Persian script, with the shop a few steps up from street level. I’ve also marked the location on our google map. Their phone numbers are 9810905799 and 9873428432; ask to speak to Samir or Nabi.

Prices: Expect to spend about Rs. 200 to 250 per head.

Timings: From around noon to about 10:30-11:00 at night, every day of the week.

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67 Comments leave one →
  1. Harneet permalink
    Sunday, 13 January 2008 6:34 pm

    Manto, puloa and dogh were my pick of the spread. The naan was quite hard to chew, infact most were cold and I wondered why.
    -
    You missed out on mentioning the chicken qorma and the excellent tea that we had at the end of the meal.

  2. Sunday, 13 January 2008 9:09 pm

    Harneet: I suspect they get their naans from outside — who knows, perhaps from the same naanwai in E Block that I talked about!

    And yes, mea culpa — completely forgot to mention the kahwa we had. But I do mention the chicken qorma. Admittedly it is a passing mention, but that’s only because all of you finished it off before I had a chance to have a go at it! :D

  3. Sunday, 13 January 2008 9:44 pm

    This indeed sounds like a hidden gem and something different from usual non veg stuff that we get in delhi…….thanks for details and well written post as always :)

  4. Soumya permalink
    Monday, 14 January 2008 11:35 am

    During my previous trip to the place, they had run out of the naan, and I was told that they would be getting the naan from some naanwai at Nizamuddin… Surely the naans would have been tastier had they been a bit more fresh and warm. But then we can put the blame on the cold weather, I guess..

  5. Tuesday, 15 January 2008 12:54 am

    Bless you guys – it was a post on your Orkut forum that led to me and my cousin discovering the gem that was the Afghan restaurant in Ballimaran.

    Ahem, as someone who speaks a bit of Farsi and knows a bit about Persian food, here are some observation.

    1. The Afghan naan in the post looks identical to what is known as barbari in Persian cuisine.

    2. You’ll find dogh (or doogh) in Persian cuisine as well (no cucumber, the composition is yogurt, water, salt, and dried mint)

    3. “Dashi kabaabs” seem like what is known as taskebap in Turkish cuisine or “tas kebab” in Persian cuisine

    4. Kofta-chelow

    Chelow = rice in Dari/Farsi

    So perhaps this is just steamed rice with koftas.

    • Abhijeet permalink
      Saturday, 4 April 2009 11:38 pm

      i have heard about this afgani food outlet in Ballimaran were exactly it is kindly let me know.
      thanks

  6. Tuesday, 15 January 2008 1:01 am

    Thalassa: Glad you enjoyed the Ballimaran place! :D

    Incidentally, the variation of kofta-chelow served by this restaurant involves adding some roasted cumin to the rice.

  7. Thursday, 17 January 2008 12:32 am

    Roasted cumin sounds lovely.

    I don’t get it – why is this place not more well-known? I mean, people seem to be happily eating up third-rate versions of Greek and Italian food and yet neglect a very authentic Afghan restaurant smack in the middle of Delhi.

    (Don’t get me started on the atrocity that is It’s Greek to Me. I have a Greek boyfriend, have travelled to Greece, cook Greek food on a regular basis and most of what they serve is not to be found on any restaurant menu in Greece)

  8. Soumya permalink
    Thursday, 17 January 2008 12:14 pm

    Hmm.. why is this place not well known? In fact, far from marketing this place, the owners prefer to call this place “Direct Pizza” and has a large board advertising pizzas, burgers and fries, things which they do not even serve. I guess it has got more to do with what me and Manik were discussing that evening: they probably want to deliberately keep this place discreet. Rather than an Afghan Muslim place standing out in a predominantly West Punjabi area (a community which at times do get Islamphobic thanks to historical circumstances), they would rather prefer this place to be discreet, providing a homely atmosphere to Afghan expats..

  9. surbhi permalink
    Thursday, 17 January 2008 12:50 pm

    @soumya

    if they really wanted to be discreet, its ironic (and stupid!) that they choose to situate themselves bang opposite gurudwara (place of worship of the “Islamphobic” community)!!

    • M.Kalmadi permalink
      Thursday, 5 March 2009 10:38 am

      Sikh community is not islamophobic or hindoofobic….but just against idolatory buffoonry!!! Don’t try to create a rift.chill

    • M.Kalmadi permalink
      Thursday, 5 March 2009 11:47 am

      I actually got ur point.sorry for my earlier comments…but surbhi..this is a food blog ..u could have just missed discussing that part at all!!!

  10. Thursday, 17 January 2008 1:27 pm

    @Soumya: I hardly think the Sikh community is “Islamphobic”, certainly no more than the Hindu community.

    I think the explanation might be far simpler: they may have initially tried to open a general-purpose restaurant with fare that would appeal to everyone. But they probably ultimately realized that it’s best to play to their comparative advantage and target the Afghan community. From what little I discussed with the waiter Ahmad, it seemed like they used to earlier serve the pizza/burger fare, but had phased it out.

  11. Soumya permalink
    Thursday, 17 January 2008 9:41 pm

    @Surbhi, Hemanshu

    I certainly did NOT mean that Sikh community Islamphobic, far from that!!!
    What I meant was that a community directly affected by an event in the nature and scale of Partition, even if it happened about one or two generations back, does tend to have certain hard feelings historically handed over to the current generation by the ones directly affected by it. This is certainly true, to a great extent, in case of those from West Punjab and East Bengal. Of course, this does not brand an entire community as Islamphobic. However, we have seen, several times in history, these feelings being utilized by right-wing groups. Even during elections, we often find areas such as Lajpat Nagar and CR Park to be pockets of strong political base for right-wing groups.

    However, what I mentioned above, about the Afghan restaurant wanting to be discreet, probably applies equally to anywhere else in Delhi. They certainly do not seem to wanting to be a well-known restaurant by marketing themselves to the general population in Delhi.

  12. Harneet permalink
    Friday, 18 January 2008 1:24 pm

    Hmmmm. I love the discussion threads here, just going through what people have to add to the what we have dished out already. One big reason why I can never have enough of this community.

  13. Kapil permalink
    Wednesday, 23 January 2008 10:48 am

    @Soumya

    Sorry for the late entry but people you might have heard about Afghan Sikhs (or Kabuli Sikhs). How can Sikhs oppose an Afghan restaurent in their vincinity since Sikh is the most respected Indian community in Afghanistan & neighbouring Iran.

    I have been to various parts of Afghanistan & people still remember their Sikh neighbours which were living in Afghanistan even three & half decadeds after the partition.

    Regardless of relegion, in Iran also Sikhs are more respected then any of the expatriates & many of Sikhs are married to the Iranian women.

    Take a close watch at the Iranian national sign & Nishan Sahib at Gurudwaras. Listen to the counting in Farsi language & in Punjabi you will find amazing similarities.

    Sikhism had been & is the most geneous, welcoming & brave heart community anywhere in the world & a sincere study of history is enough to esablish that.

  14. Soumya permalink
    Thursday, 24 January 2008 12:53 am

    @ Kapil & everyone else

    I have already clarified this in my previous post, and am doing this again: I DID NOT REFER TO THE SIKH COMMUNITY AS EITHER ISLAMOPHOBIC OR ANTI-AFGHAN. It is clear in both my original post and my clarification later on that I was referring not to the Sikh community but to the community affected by Partition (both from West Punjab and East Bengal) with whom the emotions dished out by right-wing political formations often meet with ready historical justification and appeal. Hence areas which originated as resettlement colonies for victims of partition, like Lajpat Nagar or Malviya Nagar or CR Park at times might have an undercurrent of Islamophobia.

    Sure enough, we might observe a counterpart of historical justification of such emotions among similar victims of partition in Pakistan and Bangladesh as well; except that Islamophobia, unlike other forms of phobia or hatred for other communities, acquires a global dimension and role in the current stage of history.

  15. Soumya permalink
    Thursday, 24 January 2008 12:59 am

    Also, I am a bit amused by the kind of response I am getting for suggesting that an Afghan Muslim restaurant might want to keep itself discreet to save itself from Islamophobia, in a city where a person with a Muslim name finds it excruciatingly difficult to get even simple things done, like hiring a flat on rent, putting one’s children to school or getting himself/herself a passport!!!

  16. Thursday, 24 January 2008 3:31 am

    @Soumya: I get the sense that your dear Surbhi muddled things up for you :P

    Now that I read it carefully, your point was about there being some antagonism between Muslims and West Punjabis at large, due to historical circumstances. It was Surbhi who made the reference to the nearby Gurdwara as the community’s place of worship, thereby making us think you were talking about Sikhs rather than Punjabis in general.

    And my only objection was to singleing out the Sikhs. That Muslims often face covert and overt discrimination by civil society is of course, entirely undebatable. And certainly some Punjabi families who suffered during the partition are more embittered than others.

    That said, I would (a) still stick to my marketing strategy explanation as more plausible; (b) and do so strengthened by the knowledge of at least one other Afghan place in Lajpat Nagar (the naanwai I refer to in the post) who operates very much in the open. So this need for discreetness in a West Punjabi area doesn’t seem to be widespread among the local Afghans.

  17. Soumya permalink
    Thursday, 24 January 2008 1:34 pm

    @ Hemanshu

    The marketing strategy explanation does not explain (a) why they still have the pizza-burger-fries board prominently displayed in the restaurant, when it costs very little to remove that and replace that with an inexpensive computer print-out containing the current Afghan food menu (b) why the restaurant is named something like “Dastakhwan” in pashto but they make it a point not to spell that name in English script anywhere, with the English script only carrying the rather curious name of “Direct Pizza” (c) whether it is credible that a group of Afghans, planning to run a restaurant at a small scale, at any point of time, would choose to enter a sector of restaurant business that is most dominated by large business groups and MNCs and requires a substantial entry cost. Even if they had originally planned a general purpose restaurant and not a specialized Afghan one, wouldn’t it have made better business sense to perhaps open a Mughlai/Tandoori joint?

  18. Thursday, 24 January 2008 1:46 pm

    @Soumya: Arre yaar, let’s give them a break, say what?

    (a) their pizza-burger-fries board is no more prominent than their dastarkhwan-cum-namaaz platform, their persian carpets, or their picture of Masood. Once you enter the restaurant, they are clearly not being discreet about being Afghan. Like I said, the waiter claimed they were transitioning from a pizza place to a purely Afghan restaurant, so that menu and board will probably go away in time.

    (b) the persian script actually merely reads “Afghan Ristoraant wa Direct Pizza”.

    (c) I’d say it’s as credible as random Punjabi-owned outlets and “bakeries” all over Lajpat Nagar market, Malviya Nagar, north Delhi and west Delhi also pretending to sell pizzas and burgers. And no, I don’t think the entry cost is much different from opening a similar-sized restaurant offering any other cuisine.

    You could say that Punjabis should open only mughlai restaurants and south indians should open only south indian restaurants, and bengalis should open only sweet shops :P , but heck, let’s give them all some leeway.

    Tell you what, why don’t we make this an excuse to go down to Krishna Market once more, and ask the owner and waiters about the whole thing again? :D

  19. Soumya permalink
    Thursday, 24 January 2008 3:10 pm

    Hmmm…

    At the risk of sounding argumentative :o : opening a pizza-burger joint certainly involves a substantial entry cost. Standard industrial organization model of an incumbent entering a market dominated by large oligopolies :)

    Anyway, it’s a good idea :) to make this an excuse to go there and ask the waiter, so why not plan another EOID trip with this objective? ;) :)

  20. Soumya permalink
    Thursday, 24 January 2008 3:24 pm

    oops, typo: read “incumbent and a new firm” in place of “incumbent” in previous msg.. sorry.

  21. Harneet permalink
    Friday, 25 January 2008 7:50 am

    *shakes his head and goes away*

  22. Rajat permalink
    Saturday, 26 January 2008 9:45 pm

    lol@ digressions related to whether Sikhs are Islamophobic. And to think this is a food centric blog. But then, Heman wrote this post.. should not have been surprised.

  23. Monday, 28 January 2008 11:19 pm

    Rajat, blame me for starting the digression. Bu my point was more about authentic vs. inauthentic representations of foreign cuisines, and I’m sad that the discussion veered away from this issue on to other, less food-centric things.

    Let me make another attempt to get us discussing this matter – how many restaurants in Delhi are run by people or have chefs from the nation from which the cuisine they serve belongs to?

    I know that there are two Japanese-run Japanese restaurants and a Korean-run Korean restaurant, but what about other groups?

    As far as I know, no Mexican restaurant has even a Mexican chef. I’ve never heard of any Thai chef helming any of the gazillion Thai restaurants in the city. Can we do a compilation of restaurants that are run by chefs who grew up with the cuisine (as opposed to learnt it on a 3 month crash course)?

  24. Soumya permalink
    Tuesday, 29 January 2008 12:13 am

    There used to be an authentic French restaurant in Hotel Ashok (yes, the same Ashok where we had a rather disappointing EOID trip last year) with a French chef personally attending the guests. The place easily ranked as one of my favorites, but unfortunately it closed down. :( Now they have a Russian restaurant in it’s place. I have been to this Russian joint once, the food is good (and the menu similar to the one at Bline, though this one has a Central Asian influence), though I don’t know if they have a Russian chef here!

    We all know that often restaurants modify an unfamiliar cuisine in order to target a bigger market. Thus, most “Mexican” restaurants are not Mexican at all, but represent an Indianized version of the more familiar Tex-Mex/Western .. I heard that many Thai restaurants actually started with Thai chefs (in fact, the cost of flying in a Thai chef is usually cheaper than hiring an Indian chef!), but had to bring in Indian chefs in order to suit the Indian tastes. (Typical Thai food available in the streets of Bangkok or most of Central Thailand, uses certain combination of spices and herbs which many Indians are uncomfortable with; besides, use of nam plah as a basic ingredient in place of salt renders the entire thai cuisine unsuitable for vegetarians!)

    One might note that Indians are typically more conservative about experimenting with unfamiliar food/cuisine than most other places. In very few countries, the fast food giants have localized their menu as much as India. This might probably explain why we have so few authentic joints providing foreign cuisine here. Unless one is either targeting the ex-pat population (like Bline or the Afghan restaurant), or is so high-end that it can afford to target only a narrow market base, it is difficult to be commercially viable by serving authentic foreign cuisine.

  25. Soumya permalink
    Tuesday, 29 January 2008 12:14 am

    @ Thalassa

    By the way, which is the Korean-run Korean restaurant?

  26. Kapil permalink
    Tuesday, 29 January 2008 9:57 am

    Of course a meal cooked by a native chef will have it’s own authenticity but on the other hand eateries has to be competetive enough as well to run their business continuosely.

    A good cook from a foreign land costs much more then our boys do get here so it effects directly to the cost of food. (Thai chefs may be an exception)

    Mostly all the specialty restaurants (either in hotels or stand alone) do invite foreign chefs time to time & organise food festivals. One can have the authentic taste at these promotions.

    Above all for a mediocre the cost of the food also counts plus our Indian chefs are being ranked very good internationally. (it’s my personal opinion & by mediocre I am mentioning to my self)

  27. Harneet permalink
    Tuesday, 29 January 2008 2:56 pm

    Yeah, which is the Korean-run Korean restaurant, Thalassa? Thats what I want to know more than anything else, here.

  28. Wednesday, 30 January 2008 7:28 am

    Harneet and Soumya, here you go:

    http://potonfire.blogspot.com/2007/04/korean-food.html

    I even left a longish comment on that blog – so yeah, I eat Korean food all the time, if you guys need any recommendations, just ask.

    If you’re too lazy to click, here are the details

    K2 – Korean Cuisine
    3rd floor, mgf plaza, gurgaon
    ph: 91-124-4379151-3/ 9871016649 run by a certain gentleman named Choi Byung-Jun (or Byung Jun Choi Western style). Hopefully this place is still in business.

    Here’s another mention of the place:

    http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=236331

    Too bad except for Chap Chae and Kimchi, none of the other dishes mentioned in the review are Korean.

  29. Wednesday, 30 January 2008 10:51 am

    Look what else I found folks!

    http://livingdigitalindia.ciol.com/Articles_Editorial_128_98965_Living%20Digital-on%20Sushi_Details.aspx

    The relevant bit:

    “And Korean at Gurgaon’s K2, Delhi’s Restaurant de Seoul and a very authentic and very anonymous Korean place in a Vasant Kunj farmhouse in South Delhi.”

    Does anyone know of this Vasant Kunj farmhouse place this guy is talking about?

    Oh by the way, most Korean food newbies find bibimbap (mixed rice) or dolsot bibimbap (stone pot mixed rice) an excellent and very mellow introduction to Korean food.

  30. Soumya permalink
    Friday, 1 February 2008 9:31 am

    Hmmm…

    By the way there is a Korean restaurant at Hotel Ashok. Never eaten there, though. Only time I went there was with someone having a rather conservative taste in food, and since we could not make out much from the menu and my companion was not prepared to experiment, we were forced to come out and eat elsewhere! :(

  31. Friday, 1 February 2008 12:32 pm

    This is great, I’m having so much fun digging out info about Korean food in Delhi. Also it’s kind of similar to the Korean restaurant scene in LA – a lot of the places don’t have English signage, operate on word of mouth publicity in the Korean community – so there’s a sense of adventure in finding them.

    A Korean website lists the following as Korean restaurant addresses in Delhi. Do any of these look at all familiar? (the restaurant names are given in Korean so no luck with that)

    1. d-12 L.S.C. Vasant Vihar Newdelhi-110057

    2. C-7/3 1st Floor Vasant Vihar New Delhi 110057

    3. 3floor MGF plaza mg road gurgaon haryana (obviously K2 Korean cuisine)

    4. C-308 3Floor Ansal Plaza Khel Gaon Marg New Delhi (Restaurant de Seoul)

    5. 3rd Foor Krishna Apra Royal Plaza D-2 Block-e sector-alpha-1 Greater Noida(u.p)

    And then there’s Dokebi in Paharganj. See, you’re actually spoilt for choices!

  32. Soumya permalink
    Friday, 1 February 2008 8:58 pm

    This thread is turning out to be quite fruitful now :)

    @Hemanshu
    Why don’t you consider copying this entire discussion on Korean food (i.e. last few comments on this thread), esp Thalassa’s posts, onto the EOID orkut community? Maybe we would have a few more inputs and then we might plan out an EOID trip..

  33. Saturday, 2 February 2008 1:17 am

    Capital idea, Soumya! I had the same thought earlier in the day, but didn’t get the time till now to act on it.

    The thread has been created on the orkut community. TM and all: please continue with the discussion there?

    Korean Food

  34. Saturday, 9 February 2008 4:54 am

    very good blog, congratulations
    regard from Catalonia Spain
    thank you

  35. Ashish permalink
    Wednesday, 13 February 2008 3:09 pm

    The food might be good , but exceptionally smelly with all afghani people round and as you enter , they look at you with Suspicion ……………???????????????

    Many eyes watching you.

  36. Soumya permalink
    Thursday, 14 February 2008 1:45 pm

    “exceptionally smelly with all afghani people” ???!!! excuse me?!!!! [:-o] …

    .. I am not sure if such naked displays of racist prejudices on a food blog even deserves a response! However, for the sake of clarification to unsuspecting readers who might not have yet visited this restaurant but are planning to do so, here goes:

    The place is as clean and neat as any spacious upmarket restaurant could ever aspire to be. If anything, it did have an aroma of food: barbecued meat, the combination of mint-coriander-onion flavors etc.. Whether one likes the food and it’s aroma over there is a different question altogether – possibly a matter of one’s personal tastes. To be racially abusive, however, is plain unacceptable.

  37. surbhi permalink
    Thursday, 14 February 2008 2:14 pm

    @soumya
    almost shocking!!..the fact that i agree with you!:-)

  38. Sunny permalink
    Thursday, 14 February 2008 10:17 pm

    Hi guys,
    This blog is one of the best blogs i have ever read. I live in Toronto and coming to New Delhi for 2 week vacation on Feb. 26th. i would like to know if there are any good restaurants in Dwarka Sector 10 or close by. I don’t know the area well, although I can request someone to help me with the directions. I would appreciate if you guys are planning to go somewhere and I can join you.
    Thanks
    sp

  39. Thursday, 14 February 2008 10:35 pm

    @Ashish:

    I have been to the place thrice now, and have never felt that it smelt bad in any way. I wouldn’t go as far as Soumya in praising their cleanliness — the last time I was there, the place was jam-packed with people, and my table hadn’t been cleared of naan crumbs when I sat there. However, when the food was served, the crumbs were quickly wiped off.

    I also have reservations on the speed of the service. I don’t think the place is good for a quick bite — it can take them 10-15 minutes after your arrival to take your order, and another 20 minutes before it’s served.

    I can see a hint of truth in your statement that there are “many eyes watching you”. But I don’t think it’s suspicion, it’s just some degree of natural curiosity — notice that you’re usually the only non-Afghan customer there. To put it in perspective, I think any foreigner in an Indian restaurant suffers far more ogling and staring than you and I ever do at the Afghan place.

    and really, “exceptionally smelly”?!! for crying out loud!

  40. yaqub permalink
    Saturday, 16 February 2008 4:02 pm

    salam.wahid jan khob asty ?ba khoda bachesh ba rasturantet ke amadom besyar mra maza dad .mifami az chi az kosi ke ba ma awordi .nosh janet bachesh.

  41. Manish Dhawan permalink
    Wednesday, 12 March 2008 4:20 pm

    Guys,

    Can anyone help me out in deciding of a place to go for Dinner tonight, it is my wife’s birthday and she normally enjoy’s roasted/kebabs etc only. I think i have tried all joints in south of delhi but if you know of a hidden gem, please do share….. FAST

  42. vinush permalink
    Wednesday, 19 March 2008 8:53 pm

    Its toooooooooo much goooooooooood Only time I went there was with someone having a rather conservative taste in food,A good cook from a foreign land costs much more then our boys do get here so it effects directly to the cost of food. (Thai chefs may be an exception)
    I would appreciate if you guys are planning to go somewhere and I can join you.

  43. Jyotirmoy permalink
    Tuesday, 25 March 2008 11:46 am

    Last last Sunday went to this place for lunch. Thanks for the direction given here, finding the place was no problem and found parking place near by.
    The place felt a bit spooky when we entered. We were the only Indians. The handsome waiter greeted us handsomely and we placed our orders. It took quite some time before food was served. The delay was probably due to arrival of the first batch of Naans from another place. The Kabuli Pulao was excellent. The Dashi Kababs do not come any where near Dopiazza. Soft chunks of meat in an onion soup kind of thing. The best part is that the food is not greasy & spicey. We were only two persons so couldn’t try more stuff here so would visit again. The waiter asked for comments and requested us to come again.
    The place didn’t appear spooky when we left.

  44. Friday, 28 March 2008 12:58 pm

    Shammi Kababs and pulao were the best ….However some of teh food wasn’t hot. I wouldrate it 6/10. Kababs ver so tasty!!!

    Raj Khanna

  45. Tap permalink
    Friday, 28 March 2008 2:35 pm

    Dear all,
    sorry I am late to the discussion.
    A few pointers into the restaurant/food business.
    Can anyone name a restaraunter/ Hotelier who is from the trade, most businesses are run my people who control the purse strings/ finances.
    Chefs are mute bystanders to the whole charade.
    Most chefs want to cook authentic/eat food as that is what they live for- but they must curb their instincts in order to make business sense.

    Places which are a hole in the wall offer people with great culinary skills to practice their magic without much worrying about the bottom lines as the overheads are not exorbitant.

    Delhi is fast becoming a city which is turning into melting pot of cultures with a large number of various populations be it tibetian/ afghani/ kerela/ tamils.
    hence these people will look for thir own food hence why mushrooming of bangali cuisine in C R park and opening of a number of hole in the wall outlets which serve home style bengali food.
    I hope the ancient trade of cheffings is preserved and no one better to take it forward than the chef community.

  46. Jyotirmoy permalink
    Sunday, 30 March 2008 10:13 am

    The hole in the wall Bengali eateries coming up in C.R. Park do not serve any true home style food to write home about.
    To experience what a chef can mean to a restaurant Madam Dalmia’s Diva comes to mind.

  47. Tap permalink
    Monday, 31 March 2008 1:44 pm

    Madam Dalmia is not a trained chef ( as far as I am aware), though I agree that the food at Diva is excellent.
    Have not tried the restaurants in C R Park but the food in O Calcutta is brilliant.

  48. Jyotirmoy permalink
    Monday, 31 March 2008 4:29 pm

    Yes the food at O Calcutta is pretty good. A brave lady had set up a restaurant in east Delhi at Patpar gunge called Chowringhee, its doing very well, got Times award too.

    Madam Dalmia has travelled extensively in Italy in persuit of authentic Italina food. She may not have a diploma but she IS a self-trained chef and her food speaks for it.

  49. Tap permalink
    Tuesday, 1 April 2008 1:49 pm

    Dont think one needs to be brave to open a restaurant.
    Just very determined and sure of oneself.
    Stick to a plan and bear it out.
    Most people who open restaurants do it for the glamor quotient, they have no clue what it involves and what they ought to do.
    Slap in their face is the hole in the wall eateries who do brisk business despite the lack of finances and swank interiors.

    Just goes to prove the product of a restaurant is its FOOD, get that right and the business works.

    Do give me the location/ address of chowringee, of all places why patparganj, though I guess Delhi has a large Bengali community spread evenly across Delhi, proof of which are the various durga puja pandals across the length and breth of the city.

    Diva goes to prove what a chef/owner/chef owner driven restaurant can accomplish.

  50. Tap permalink
    Thursday, 3 April 2008 6:58 pm

    Please check out http://london.unchainedguide.com.

    Also there is a chocolate shop in C.R.Park market number 4 called Chocolatiers, well worth a visit

  51. Jyotirmoy permalink
    Friday, 4 April 2008 12:13 pm

    To open a Bengali restaurant in Patpargunge needed guts and she stuck to it till it became what it is today. If you are approaching Patpargunge from the Nizamuddin bridge you will find a left turn leading towards Patpargunge from the highway. Take this turn and you will come to another road running parallel to the highway, turn right and you will find this restaurant on your left after about 200 mts.
    Yes the chocolate boutique at C.R. Park is a good place to pick up some good chocolates. Boxes of these are ideal gifts.
    Opposite this boutique is Annapurna, by far the best Bengali sweet shop.

  52. Friday, 4 April 2008 12:19 pm

    @jyotirmoy and tap: It might be best if you move these discussions to our Orkut community. That way the discussions are more organized according to topic, and there will be less duplication. You will find for example, that we have discussed Chowringhee there already, and even organized an EOiD field trip there some months back. Similarly, Chocolatiers of Chittaranjan Park has also been talked about before.

  53. Jyotirmoy permalink
    Monday, 14 April 2008 3:51 pm

    Saturday evening went to Hauz Quazi and emerged in the confusion and crowd at exactly 6:30. Tried in vain to spot any eoid member, Hemanshu’s cell phone number given to me by Shilpa did not exist. So around 7 PM started walking towards Ballimaran whetting up a healthy appetite. It took a lot of will power to ignore the fried chicken stall but a few paces down the aroma drifting out of the tiny succulent botis roasting on the charcoal got me.
    Ignoring many more temptations I finally stumbled in to Sharrif Manzil. From the brightly lit streets I entered a dark passage with no one in sight. Carefully proceeding I saw a faint light coming from the left. Climbing a few steps I saw two dinghy rooms illuminated by a single bulb. There were carpets and a few Kabulis. Their eyebrows went Everest high when I asked about Kabuli restaurant. An urchin materialised from nowhere and guided me thru a dark staircase to the small eatery upstairs. A couple of Afghans were eating there. All of them were eating a reddish stew, so I too ordered the same. The stew seemed so similar to the one we cook at home and with beet root too. The naan was very different from the one I ate in Lajpat nagar. The curse of being a light eater and a lone diner is not being able to sample different varieties. One naan and the meat stew filled me completely leavin a questionable space for the dessert to be had at Chana Ram.

  54. Tuesday, 29 April 2008 7:26 am

    Jyotirmoy, that’s great – you actually managed to wander into the Ballimaran Afghan restaurant. I was there a year ago on my India trip – absolutely fantastic food. The naans are so soft and delicious! Did you try the herbal green Afghan tea?

  55. Friday, 30 May 2008 2:30 am

    Cool! the place in just few steps from my new house (just now i realized after reading your post) i gotta visit them very soon :)

  56. Bharti permalink
    Saturday, 5 July 2008 11:28 am

    i really felt the site very interesting …planning to visit Delhi in the month of august for shopping purpose ….for my shadi.

    can you suggest me where from i should do my shopping for bridal wears??? if possible refer me to some blog group related to my need

    i also plan to combine my shopping trip with the eateries of EOID!!

  57. wajma karimi permalink
    Thursday, 14 August 2008 5:58 am

    i used to live n delhi for 7 years now i am in usa and i never forgot the food mostly manto ,kabab,kabli,fantastic naan but i must say my afghani food is best in hole world

  58. Monday, 8 December 2008 10:28 am

    Hi,

    I went to the Afgani restuarant on Saturday and had the most divine meal ever. The Chicken Tandoori and Mutton Burra were awesome though Kabuli Pulao was just ok and was served with ladies finger. Looking forward to going again soon. If there are any other good afgani resturants do send the info.
    cheers
    Monica

  59. NEELAM permalink
    Monday, 19 January 2009 5:04 pm

    wow i just love afghani food

  60. NEELAM permalink
    Monday, 19 January 2009 5:05 pm

    and the ppls tooooooooooooooooooo

  61. Ajay permalink
    Saturday, 21 February 2009 9:26 pm

    hi guys,nice to see a group of foodies around.I am a big foodie myself too.Dude, its seriously something that i relate to..how frequent are you guys on the visits ? we are also a group of 4 trying different stuff around delhi for delicous preparations.Can we guys join you in the hunt?

  62. Tasneem permalink
    Friday, 17 April 2009 8:40 am

    I read this article rercently & decided to visit this Afghan resturant on my Anniversary on 14th April for lunch. I just wish I had gone to a better place….To begin with, they didn’t have much options . They didn’t have any kebabs, no chicken tandoori/burra. They only had Chicken leg Kebabs which were like the regular Chicken Tangri Fried. It was quite smelly. Kabuli pulao was good but there was nothing to accompany it like some Raita etc. Naan was “ek-dum” thanda & difficult to chew where as Kofta curry was also no good. The gravy was not even fried ( Bhuna) properly. Even if u use less oil, when u fry the gravy the oil should separate & float on top. The gravy was ek dum kaccha & one could smell the kaccha masala. The only saving grace was the “Dogh”. I was extremely disappointed with the meal. May b they have more kebabs & curries for dinner…but definetely I would not recommend this place for lunch to anyone!

    Could anyone please give me the address of Afgan resturant in Ballimaraan???

  63. Soumya permalink
    Friday, 17 April 2009 11:04 am

    “Even if u use less oil, when u fry the gravy the oil should separate & float on top.”

    I hope someone is reading this !!!

    ******************************

    Yes, I agree that the Afghan restaurant at Lajpat Nagar is not the place for a special occasion : almost every time I went there they had run out of some of the major items in their menu. And the naans, as mentioned above, are not made in house but are outsourced, and hence are often not hot and fresh like they are meant to be. But regarding the gravy being not fried properly, maybe that is the way they are supposed to be in Afghan cuisine?

  64. Tasneem permalink
    Friday, 17 April 2009 10:55 pm

    No Soumya, I have had Afghan food quite a few times at my Afghan friends place. So, this much I know that in Afghan cusinine they also fry the masala just like we do…may be with little less oil! But the gravy at this resturant was ekdum kaccha. They must have blended the ingredients in the mixi and cooked for a few minutes. They gravy neither had colour nor the taste of a perfectly cooked tomato gravy.

    Another thing is that 1 plate of Kabuli Pulao was for Rs120/- which is ok but it had only 1 mutton piece. I think that for this price, they should give 2 mutton pieces.

    Could anyone please give me the address of Afgan resturant in Ballimaraan or are there good Turkish/ Moroccon food joints in Delhi which are not too expensive?

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