An intrinsic part of the charm of Delhi’s culture is the variety of cuisines available here. Over the decades, arrival of people from vibrant cultures and customs in the city has introduced new flavours to the capital’s palette. The latest addition to this tradition is the “Afghan Market” in Hauz Rani, opposite to Max hospital in Saket.
This little market houses over 30 eateries primarily catering to over 200 Afghani families living in the neighbourhood and other parts of Delhi. Each one promises to bring to your plate the best of mountain-style lamb kebabs or aromatic Kabuli Uzbeki pulao. These eating joints started springing up when Afghans started coming to Delhi for better medical treatment.
As one steps in, the scene takes you back a few centuries, as you can see fair, light-eyed men wearing long Pashtu-style kurtas queuing up at the street nanwayee (Afghan bakeries) selling traditional Afghani rotis during meal time. The best-sellers here are the Kabuli Uzbeki pulao, kebabs and Mantu dish, which is lamb dumpling served with yogurt, rajma and lentils. For the vegetarians, they have borani banjan, which is deep-fried eggplant served with yogurt and dried mint leaves, lady fingers and potatoes served along with Kabuli-style rajma.
Afghani food is lightly flavoured and not much spicy, therefore, it is suitable for all. Their way of preparation brings up the meaty flavour. Another favourite is Kabuli Uzbeki biryani. The biryani is made with aromatic basmati rice cooked with raisins, carrots, onions and choicest undercut lamb pieces. It is served with Afghani-style kidney beans cooked in mild tomato gravy together with a yogurt dish, which has diced tomatoes, cucumbers and capsicum.
Abdul Shukur, 31, started the first eatery here two years ago. He started with a bakery and then set up Arya restaurant. “The business is good as we get about 40-50 people daily.
Mostly we have Afghani and Indian customers, but we also see a lot of Iraqi and Nigerian customers,” says Abdul.
The Delhi Kandhar restaurant, another local favourite, serves a special mutton Dupaiza (lamb cooked with onions), which is a favourite with the patrons.
Sabawoon Mohmand, 21, of Kabul and currently visiting India, said he loves the Indian tandoori chicken but can’t do without a little taste of home. “The food here definitely makes me miss home,” says Sabawoon.