-By Marryam H Reshii
Where even the vegetarian fare is lip-smacking
It's part of a tiny chain, only four branches old so far, that serves good, old-fashioned Punjabi food with old world service and nary a concession to new-fangled concepts.
Atmospherics: On the ground floor of an as yet empty mall, the best part of Zaffran is that you can drive up to the door. The interiors are neutral, there's an open kitchen and the service is strictly of the old-fashioned kind. The proprietors are always on hand, the servers remember your children's names and your food preference after the second visit.
Table Talk: Sindhi Mutton Biryani (Rs 375) is the one standout dish on the menu. Made with a stock that has enough to differentiate it from the other versions of biryani that every menu in the city has, it is flavourful and moist enough to be had on its own, without raita. Murgh malai tikka (Rs 295) is the standard variation that you'll find in every North Indian restaurant in the NCR, without however, the punch of processed cheese that I personally find a turn-off. But that's Zaffran for you: many of their dishes are nothing but old style favourites, done to perfection. They don't make statements; they don't stand out, but they're there in the background.
There are two schools of thought on vegetarian food. One is to spend as little time and ingredients on it, making it as bland and boring as possible. The other is the Zaffran way: to make it as seasoned and spiced as its meaty counterpart. From my own standpoint, I see much merit in the second view. So, expectedly, I enjoyed the crunchy texture of the amchur-flavoured karari bhindi (Rs 195) that was fried to a crisp, as well as the dal tarka (Rs 175) that had about as much spicing as a dal makhni would have.
Plus and minus: On the plus side, it is a huge relief to sit down and know exactly what you are going to get. No nerve-grating nouvelle touches or fusions between disconsonant ingredients. On the minus side, and this is hardly the fault of the restaurant, the rather badly maintained washrooms are some distance away.
Must try dishes: Martaban Meat, Amritsari Fish, Parsi Dairy Kulfi
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