A little piece of India’s North West neighbours in Lajpat Nagar
Serves Afghan, Uzbek, Iranian food
Atmospherics: there is a lane in Lajpat Nagar which those in the know refer to as Little Kabul. Bread bakers, money changers and chemist shops with signs in Pashto, even a beauty salon or three with the menu in Pashto. Needless to say, there is a sprinkling of eateries, most serving the Afghan equivalent of dal-chawal. Little Kabul ends at Bata on the main road. Chopaan Kebab is but one enterprise, this one by a Sikh gentleman who is of Afghan origin. What sets Chopaan Kebab apart from the competition is the professionalism: there is a dumb-waiter in the service area, to transport cooked food to the first floor. There is also a concise menu that travels between Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Iran, where the customers come from, Delhi being a favoured spot for medical tourism and Lajpat Nagar being a convenient point for travel needs. When I visited during lunch, I was the only desi. The staff speaks English and Hindi in varying amounts, besides Pashto.
Table talk: The single best dish on the menu is makhloot with rice (Rs 400) from the Iranian section, which turned out to be one skewer of jujeh kebab (chicken tikka) and one of koobideh (mutton seekh) on a generous bed of rice sprinkled over with sumac, the tart red powder used all over the Middle East. It is a filling meal for one person. The mantu Afghani (Rs 200) is great value for money, as indeed, is everything else on this menu. The dough covering the minced lamb is ever so slightly chewy and the small cholas that are sprinkled on each mantu are purely for textural contrast. The single dish from the Uzbek section that I was able to order (all the others were not available) was kazan kebab (Rs 350), the Central Asian version of the Kashmiri tabak maaz. Whereas the latter is redolent with the fragrance of aromatic spices and is first simmered and then fried in ghee till crisp, kazan kebab is much more basic: three gigantic sections of lamb ribs on the bone, cooked till the tender meat slid off the bone.
Plus and minus: great for a change from desi food at down to earth prices, but zero use of chillies and other spices. Table and ‘bed’ seating.
Must try: chicken qorma, whole grilled chicken Afghani, hummus with pita bread
Food: 3.25; Service: 3.25; Décor: 3.25
I-48, Lajpat Nagar II
Tel: 40109494, 40109595
Open from 11 am to 11 pm
Meal for two: Rs 800
No alcohol served; credit cards accepted