Language is a minor irritant but the food at Iranzamin is more than an adequate recompense
I like the way Delhi is turning into a little cauldron. There was a time when the only kinds of food you got in restaurants were Punjabi, Chinese and something that went by the name of Mughlai. Then, in the last two decades or so, I would say, Delhi started celebrating different kinds of cuisine. These days, you not only get vast varieties of regional cuisine – from Tamil to Kashmiri and Gujarati to Bengali – you also get food from all parts of the world. And while Japanese, Italian and other such kitchens flourish, what tends to catch my attention is the small restaurant tucked away in some corner of the city, highlighting the food of a nation not seated at the high table.
That's why, when a young friend, Anant Raina, told me about Iranzamin – an Iranian restaurant in Lajpat Nagar – I lost no time in getting there. I went past the Defence Colony flyover from Lodi Hotel, and turned left into the Lajpat Nagar Market.
On the left was a board for Axis Bank, and I turned left from there. Some ten shops down the road, on the left, was Iranzamin. The address is C-161, Lajpat Nagar 2 (Tel: 9999060748 and 9711965100).
The place is pretty swanky and is run by two Iranian friends called Abbas and Ali. I sat down at a table and listened to Iranian music (and to something that sounded like Iranian rap) while I went through the menu. A server got me a cup of black tea, which was brewing in one corner. All the regulars who came in would rip a piece of roti from a pile that had been laid out on a counter in front of an airy open kitchen, and then have it with the tea.
I was told that on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, they serve curries and rice. On other days of the week they have kababs and rotis or rice. So I ordered a plate of kobedeh, which were lamb kababs, with roti. The roti was most interesting – it was a huge piece of thin, flattened bread with sesame seeds. This came rolled around two flat and broad seekh kababs and three grilled whole tomatoes.
The tomatoes gave a juicy touch to the kababs which had been grilled without any of the masalas that usually flavour Indian kababs. It was delicious as it was, but I added a bit of salt and pepper to my dish and enjoyed it more.
I bought a small jar of olives, stuffed with garlic, for Rs.120, and found that they went very well with the food.
My meal was for Rs.290. The restaurant also had a chicken kabab called juojhe.
On other days you can eat your korma sazbi – which is a dish of vegetables and mutton – or morgha tosh – which comprises chicken and vegetables, or nas khatoon, a lamb dish.
Each of the dishes is for Rs.300 or so. I am not sure if I have got the names right for there was a severe language problem that I faced – my knowledge of Persian being limited to “Down, down, Shah”. But about the food I have no doubts – it was excellent. Iranzamin rocks!