Zakir Nagar street food a mini Jama Masjid

Jamia has always played a second fiddle to the more sought after Jama Masjid, which holds the numero uno position as the ultimate food destination for authentic Mughlai food in Delhi.

For those who have never made the pilgrimage to Jamia will always remain blissfully ignorant of what they have missed. I was also a member of this tribe until I made my first visit to Zakir Nagar street in Jamia and discovered a few gems.

Zakir Nagar can satisfy most of your cravings for good Mughlai food, it has abundance of joints serving mutton and beef nihari, various mutton, beef and chicken curries, kormas and ishtews.

There are many joints that specialise in kebabs, roasted meats and fried fish and chicken. Those with a sweet tooth will find themselves spoilt for choice too. You can choose between rabri, jalebi, rasmalai and gulab jamuns. In addition there are some delicacies such as shahi toast that make an appearance only during winters.

Talib kebab…master of char grilled meats

I could have walked past it, its so unpretentious, had it not been for my sense of smell that never fails me. I smelt it before I saw it…saw them rather. Tempting cuts of buff meat and mince, attached to rods of iron patiently waiting their turn to be smoked and burnt at the stakes.

It was a tempting sight and I completely seduced by the meaty charms and smells realised denial would amount to suppression, which as psychologists would tell us is not healthy at all.

Wonderful smoky seekh kebab

Buff seekh kebabs at Talib kebab corner zakir nagar are excellent value for money

By all standards the seekh kebab at Talib kebab is a stand out piece of grilled meat. Its a little on the spicy side with a wonderful charred exterior texture and juicy from inside. The accompanying green mint chutney pairs very well with it.

The seekh kebab at Talib is so very different in appearance and presentation than Lalu kebab in Jama Masjid and Lucknow Galawati in its vicinity, both great artists, master craftsmen at their work.

I so wished I had company to share the food as then I would have gone for the plate of tikka also which by the way also looked irresistible, but I decided to postpone it for another day.

Talib Kebab menu and prices

Given their quality, the kebabs at Talib are a great value for money. One may argue they are buff (beef) kebabs after all. Still all things considered I would say they are a great value dish.

I have had buff kebabs in other places in Zakir Nagar and at much cheaper prices but found none as good as Taleb.

A Pahalwan who wrestles with sweets

Pahalwan lassi Zakir nagar

After gorging on meaty delights most mortals develop a craving for something sweet, there is pure science behind this I am told. Meats are acidic and sweets are basic, sweet cravings are a body’s natural response to restore its healthy balance.

I decided to make amends and landed at Pahalwanji(wrestler) Lassi to immediately restore my bodies Ph balance. True to its name the shop is owned by a wrestler. Though they proclaim to be a Lassi shop, the establishment sells Rabri, Rasmalai, Gulab Jamun and adds Gajar(carrot) halwa to its repertoire during winters.

Pahalwan ji lassi corner Zakir nagar

Saffron rasmalai, rabri and gulab jamun

Saffron rasmalai at Pahalwan lassi in Zakir nagar, New Delhi

I tasted the saffron rasmalai (cottage cheese dumplings in cream) and rabri (sweet thickened milk) and found both were eminently palatable. The rasmalai is a balance of textures. A soft and spongy cottage cheese dumpling floats in a sweet saffron flavoured milk of rather thick consistency. The dish is best had cold and is one of my favourite sweets on the planet, the other is Makhan malai.

The Rabri at Pahalwanji Lassi is also very agreeable, not the best in Delhi and definitely not comparable to the best that I have tasted but strongly recommended if you are in the area.

Rabri at Pahalwan lassi in Zakir nagar New Delhi Pistachio rabri

Beef biryani at Medina Biryani Centre

Beef biryani at Medina Biryani centre in zakir nagar New Delhi

shop front

After having finished the sweets I realized that I was ready for a small savoury something. I think in my quest to restore my Ph balance I had gone a little over board and had to restore my natural balance again.

Very close to the Pahalwanji lassi shop I saw the inviting board of Medina Biryani centre and what’s more I could get a quarter plate here, just adequate for a single person looking for a small snack.

buff biryani at Medina in Zakir nagar Delhi buff biryani

The buff (beef) biryani at Medina is not something that I would recommend. I found the rice flavour less and the meat pieces chewy and rubbery. Bottom line is this place is best avoided for Buff biryani. The place also sells chicken biryani but I am in position to comment on that.

Since I did not want to end my food adventure on a sour note I decided to try a roll at Saeed’s. This is a tried and tasted place and I knew something that would be just right for me…..a kebab roll and it did not disappoint at all.

Saeed’s Rolls

One of the best rolls in Zakir nagar at Saeed'ss shop front

Saeed’s Rolls menu and prices


Saeed’s makes the Kathi style rolls, which are characterised by a rich layered Parantha.  The Parantha is rich in its dough, it is layered and fried to achieve a crispy and caramelised outer layer. The fillings can be many and I went for a beef keema.

The roll was everything a good kathi roll should be, a crispy and caramelised parantha with a tinge of sweetness owing to milk and sugar used in the dough. The filling flavourful and spicy but not overly so, the various sauces and chutneys providing the breadth of flavours and the onions the much needed crunch.

The rolls at Saeed’s are good and come recommended. If you are in the area and fond of rolls then head to Saeed’s.

Location and how to reach

Most convenient and efficient way to reach is by taking the Delhi Metro. Take the magenta line and get off at Jamia Metro station. Complete the final leg of the journey on a e-rickshaw or hand pulled rickshaw, they are available in plenty and it takes 15 min Zakir nagar road.

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