The gravy yard shift

The last few months have seen a series of eateries open across the city. And while that doesn’t surprise us anymore, we were spooked by the address of a far-flung Mumbra restaurant — Delhi Zaika.

After all, the inaugural press release pegged its location as “opposite Kausa Kabrastan”. With Halloween a few weeks away (October 31) and with curiosity getting the better of us, we decided to drop by this new restaurant.

Nalli Nihari with rotis. Pics/ Sameer Markande

We visited Delhi Zaika late Saturday night and perhaps, it was the surge of crowds around the eatery that discouraged our imagination from going wild expecting a supernatural twist to proceedings. The eatery boasted of a ground floor non-airconditioned seating, airconditioned seating on the upper level, as well as a counter that sold kebabs. The appetising aromas and the hordes around this counter were enough of a clue of the eatery’s popularity.

We escaped the noise and headed upstairs, where we seated ourselves next to the large glass windows overlooking the chaotic street and what lay beyond (we assume it was the Kabrastan). No horror stories, so far.

The décor was basic but cosy; the walls were donned with images of Indian landmarks, notably monuments. While the servers were trying their best to cater to the crowds, they managed to stay calm (and polite, most importantly), and while our attendant was a tad clueless, he made up for it by his cheerfulness which rubbed off on us as well.

We started off with a Rawas Fish Fry (Rs 130), which was pretty average; we had to dip it in an assortment of chutneys to make it flavoursome. We moved on to the Chicken Malai Seekh Kebab (Rs 150), which included four, large succulent kebabs soaked in a bed of rich cream, yoghurt and spices. The kebabs were tender and the Malai dressing added a unique flavour to the preparation.

Next up, we sampled the Butter Tawa Chicken (Rs 130) served with Rice (Rs 100). It came dabbed with generous amounts of butter and cream and it also had the perfect mix of spices. The portions were generous which was much to our liking.

The Nalli Nihari (Rs 100) or beef marrow, which is part of their Delhi Specialty section (their tagline reads — The Pure Taste of Delhi) arrived in a tiny bucket. Let’s be honest here, this isn’t for the faint hearted. With fat floating in it along with vegetables and tender flavoursome meat, it scored as being the perfect blend of spices, and was a winner.

By now, all thoughts of the horror-inspired neighbourhood were forgotten. We had to chose our desserts — Phirni (Rs 65) and Rabdi (Rs 50). Both were lip-smacking good, and thankfully not overpoweringly sweet. As we made our way through the crowds that were adding up, it convinced us further that good food always trumps, never mind the location.

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