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Kabul Restaurant | Afghani Food in Delhi

Afghani Food Spread - Kabul Restaurant
Afghani Food Spread – Kabul Restaurant

Afghanistan’s people & food and the ever-changing food history of Delhi.

Almost after 2 years, I was back in the Afghani colony of Delhi, Jangpura. With handsome young lads wearing Pathani suits, roaming around, this neighborhood looks nothing like any other part of South Delhi. With narrow crowded lanes, shawarma grill counters and naan bread shops, it certainly gives you an insight into the feel of an Afghani marketplace and the lives these people left behind.

Having already visited Pakeeza Burger in the same area, this time I decided to visit Kabul Restaurant, located right besides Pakeeza. As I entered I saw Shaizad, a little boy lying on a carpet and watching cartoons on the television. His doting mother Khaireebi, was trying to feed him. She repeatedly asked him to lower down TV’s volume. I found it pretty amusing that, while she spoke in Pashto, he would reply only in Hindi.

As I observed this Mother-Son banter, a young boy in his late teens came to take our order. We ordered for Chapli Kebab, Chicken Shawarma and Qabli Pulao (Kabuli Pulao).

We were waiting for our food, when we looked at the picture of a garden that resembled Mughal Garden of Kashmir. Khaireebi told us that it was the mansion of a bureaucrat, back in Afghanistan. As we warmed up to each other, she told me that it was 4 years ago that she shifted to Delhi from a small village in Afghanistan. The shy lady spoke about the struggle of learning Hindi and how her son corrects her every time she gets the gender wrong. As we were busy chatting, a big tray of food arrived on our table.

Along with the Pulao and Kebab, they had also served Rajma, Naan Bread and a Salad that looked and tasted just like Kachumber salad. As the enchanting fragrance of spices was too inviting, we started our meal with Chicken Shawarma. The juicy pulled chicken was mildly seasoned with spices and was paired with fresh cucumber and tomatoes. These cucumber and tomatoes weren’t pickled, like how they usually should be. However, the chicken was so succulent that the shawarma tasted divine. It thankfully didn’t have oodles of spices or unflattering mayonnaise.

We moved on to Chapli Kebabs, the kebabs that are said to have their origin in Peshawar (Pakistan) but are hugely popular in East Afghanistan and Turkey. Chapli means flat and the kebabs are shaped like burger patties. They’re made of ground beef (at times mutton), whole wheat flour, spices and powdered pomegranate seeds. The ground beef meat is mixed with spices like coriander, cinnamon, garam masala, cumin powder, chillies and whole-wheat flour with anardana. The batter is kept overnight for marination, before rolling out round shaped patties, which are made out of the same batter and fried. Honestly, I was enticed by the aroma of it when it arrived. The crispy texture on top and its deep colour were just too alluring. One bite of naan, delicious kebab, mint chutney and pickled salad was enough for me to fall in love. So much so, that I ordered another plate of it. The aromatics, texture and the generosity of this kebab were worth celebrating. Juicy, spicy, crunchy, soft, tangy and meaty, the packed flavours and textures could make anyone happy.

As the feasting continued, a bite of Qabli Pulao (Kabuli Pulao) just lifted my spirit a tad bit further. The subtle meaty flavour of rice, raisins and the juiciest beef pieces just melted in my mouth. I have to say that the dish looked humble but underneath the aromatic rice was some beautifully cooked Beef, which gave the pulao a distinct flavour. The raisins added sweetness and paired with rajma curry, I got spicy, sweet, salty and meaty all in one bite. The portions were huge and believe me I didn’t have dinner after this meal. Also, I noticed that unlike Mughalai food that Delhiites are so accustomed to, this food is mild in comparison. If the Kebab is made of Beef, an Afghan cook will make sure that the flavour of meat shines. Even the rice in Pulao would taste of meat rather than spices or aromatics. Like Irani food, Afghans use nuts, citric element, pomegranate and pronounced meaty flavours in their food.

Gurjas, while eating mentioned that this is probably how Parsi food must have entered Mumbai and Gujrat. Just like the Parsis, he added, these Afghans have come to Delhi with a hope for a better life, education for their children, for a peaceful future and a life that they could no longer live in their war-struck country. Along with them, they have brought along their food and culture. Just how Parsi food is readily available in Western India, today Delhi has many eateries serving Afghani food and this is almost like history in making.

Perhaps, years from now we’ll have 2nd generation Afghanis here, feasting on Chapli Kebabs, a dish easily available in most parts of city.


In a nutshell:

Location: 4/8, Near Kashmiri Park, Central Road, Jangpura Extension, Jangpura, New Delhi

Atmosphere: A humble eatery with clean atmospherics. One section of the restaurant also has quintessential carpet seating. However, they keep switching off the Air Conditioning.

Service: The servers are polite, warm people. However, language can be an issue while placing the order or paying the bill.

Food: For the love of flavoursome Chapli Kebabs, Shawarmas, Manto, Pulaos and other Afghani dishes, do visit this neighbourhood.

Must HavesChapli Kebabs, Kabuli Pulao and Shawarma.

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