Afghan Food at Lajpat Nagar

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.

68 thoughts on “Afghan Food at Lajpat Nagar”

  1. 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!!

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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?

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

  6. 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!!!

  7. 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???

  8. “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?

  9. 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?

  10. There are another 2 Afghan food joints which have opened up in Lajpat Nagar. Right next to the Woodland showroom in the lane where there is an outlet for Frontier biscuits, there are 2 new resteraunts which serve Afghani food. One of them is a fine dine Afghani resteraunt and the second one seems to be serving normal fare.
    Haven;t tried the food yet, but if someone has eaten there then kindly share your experience.

  11. Went with my wife last night after gloating about how i found out about this great afghani food joint. After about asking a lot of people for directions and a few wrong turns, we reached the place. And to my utter disappointment, the place was closed. A few locals informed us that the place had shut down a month ago…so no afghani food last night! Had to make do with Khan chacha’s rolls.

  12. hi guys

    i want to com indea on 10,October 2012is my birthday so really like to have Afghani food please help for Address the restaurant and good Gust house.
    thank you

  13. Most of the Afghan Cuisine is derived from the Persian Cuisine on how their Kababs are made. Some of the authentic persian joints in the U.S are better options, but Afghan restaurants too are doing good. I will definitely visit Lajpat Nagar next time to compare 🙂

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