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Inside Delhi's lil Afghanistan: Aroma of Kabuli pulao, murmurs in Dari

Bhogal: The aroma of authentic Kabuli pulao and khameeri roti, sounds of Afghani TV shows and warmth of snug karakuli caps beckon you to this Afghan settlement in town.

travel Updated: Mar 04, 2015 14:16 IST
Shivam Saxena
Shivam Saxena
Hindustan Times

Murmurs in Dari — a variety of Persian, people quietly going about their business and an ­occasional curious stare — this is what you are met with when you enter the Afghan settlement in Bhogal.

Most people living here are migrants from Afghanistan, who moved base over the last decade or so. This ­community, spread across Delhi in clusters, mainly in Bhogal, Malviya Nagar, Lajpat Nagar and in Sharif Manzil in Ballimaran, has now adapted itself well and made Delhi its home.

While Bhogal has become their culinary hub, due to the easy availability of Afghani culinary and ­community integration, Sharif Banzil is where one can find high quality dried fruits and nuts. “Bhogal is the first choice for Afghanis in Delhi. This is as good as home,” says Mohammad Munir, 30, a refugee.

* The bread and burger makers
From five in the morning till well past midnight, a scalding clay ­tandoor in Bhogal churns out loaves of bread from ghee, milk, yeast, sugar and ­fermented wheat flour — naan gerda, naan khasa, roghani.

* At the centre of the main road is Pakeeza Burger, an eatery that sells delicious burgers the size of a quarter plate. Club it with a hot cuppa of Afghani green tea mixed with toot (a ­variety of dried fruit). “Our restaurant is a ­one-stop shop. Many Afghanis head straight to this place from the airport,” says Ahmad Zafar, the owner.

* The comforts of Afghan kitchen
Afghanistan may be a nation of harsh landscapes and freezing winters, but its cuisine includes the much-loved chicken korma, chicken and beef kababs, kabuli pulao along with chicken cooked with chana dal, and much more. Oh, and did we mention people here are hooked to Afghani TV shows? In fact, many of them only subscribe to channels with programmes in Pashto.

* The shopping hub
Several shops run by Afghani refugees at Sharif Manzil now have flourishing businesses of imported carpets, pakol and karakuli caps (below), shawls and vasket ­(jackets). “We import these caps from Kabul. They are now becoming popular in India too,” says Sikander Khan, who runs a small garment shop in the area. Dry fruits like walnuts and black ­raisins also fetch customers in huge numbers.

First Published: Mar 04, 2015 14:09 IST