Zaffrani Zaika serves classic Indian food without any newfangled twist
My heart sinks every time I visit a new Indian restaurant, because I’ve noticed that in the recent past, our great cuisine has been hijacked by a bunch of upstarts who try — without much success — to reinvent the wheel.
Fortunately, Zaffrani Zaika tries no such trick. The food is classic, with a subtle accent on Hyderabad, and every last dish is cooked exactly as it is supposed to be, with no newfangled twists.
Thus, murgh parcha kebab (Rs 375) is an escalope of chicken flattened and marinated in curd and almond paste before being grilled, while seekh pasanda is a flattened piccata of lamb with khus khus and ginger-garlic marination. One is golden in colour; the other brown. One depends on the delicacy of its marination; the other on its against-the-grain cut for texture. But on the face of it, both are flat pieces of grilled meat.
What intrigued me was the seekh-boti kebab, a unique combination of a boti and a seekh kebab, where the seekh was melt-in-the-mouth (without raw papaya) and had a subtle flavour. The Shahjahani shikhampur (Rs 350) was no short of out-standing — the filling of hung curd and coriander-mint chopped finely contrasted with the tender lamb, which appeared to have been stone ground rather than minced. Few restaurants, including those in deluxe hotels, bother to stone grind cubes of meat, so Zaffrani Zaika deserves kudos for their attention to detail. The only item in the non-vegetarian kebab section that I didn’t care much for was the tandoori lamb chops (Rs 350). The chops lacked succulence and were slightly messy.
I was heartened to note that gravy dishes are just as good as the kebabs. Usually, restaurants cannot seem to maintain a similar quality between the tandoori and curries sections, but Zaffrani Zaika has managed this feat with ease. Dum ka murgh (Rs 425) reduces chicken to a silky texture; Dilli ka korma (Rs 425) uses just a dash of curd, and lagan ki boti has a gravy that is redolent of dried coconut and cashew paste. One thing I can promise you is that this kitchen does not practise the three-gravy trick — each dish I ordered had a distinct character.
The Hyderabadi gosht biryani (Rs 475) is without a doubt the finest in the city. It is made the classic way, with raw rice and uncooked lamb cooked together in the same utensil as is only done in Hyderabad.
Address: 1st Floor, (next to Bikanerwala)
Yashwant Place, Chanakyapuri
Tele: 24121520-21, 9717176552-53
Open from: 12 pm to 3:30 pm and 7 pm to 11:30 pm
Average cost for two: Rs.1200/-
Credit cards accepted; alcohol license awaited