Sunday, May 23, 2010

IRAQI Restaurant, Lajpat Nagar

Iraqi Restaurant - E-178, Lajpat Nagar Part 1, (Close to Krishna Market and Gurudwara), New Delhi

Phones - +91 11 4162 0710,11 Mob - 99999 43759, Free Home Delivery - till 5 km

Iraqi Restaurant was launched in February this year and is the idea of two iraqi nationals who happen to stay in New Delhi, the ever diverse city in India.
Both of them are named Haeder and are best of friends.... One of the Haeders, who talked with me, while I relished the authentic Iraqi meal, is a student at Jamia Hamdard University.

Arch - What made you open this restaurant?
Haeder - The scarcity of good LESS SPICY food for middle eastern people in this city.

Arch - Ohh! Can you please highlight some more?
Haeder to this pointed out that he's been in New Delhi for the last 2 and a half years and all this while has craved a good less-spicy meal in this city. All the food that he got was either too hot and spicy or was vegetarian/eggs.

One fine day He, along with his friend, the other Haeder, decided to open a restaurant where most people, who are staying away from their homes, and who belong to the lands where food is not necessarily cooked with a lot of spice, can relish some home-like meals, thousand of miles from their homes!

Thus came into existence the 'Iraqi Restaurant', which is not a huge establishment, but a comfortable, and air-conditioned eating joint, tucked away in a not-very-jazzy street of a modest neighborhood, Lajpat Nagar Part-1.

I had been planning to visit this place for quite sometime and reached there yesterday for lunch, around 2 pm.... There are a set of problems attached with this place - One... It's rather hard to reach from the main road (Lala Lajpat Rai path).. There are cars everywhere, honking away to glory, people appear from nowhere and yell at each other... some stare, some abuse, some just yell without a reason, while others honk..... It's quite a scene, no one lets the other one move first, eventually leading to a 5-cars jam that leads to a 25-cars jam in less than 50 seconds... pheeewww...

After all that jazz, I somehow was able to locate the Iraqi Restaurant at E Block, Plot#178, only to realize that, as luck / bad luck would have it, there was a POWER CUT! I, along with a shareef friend of mine, was quite furious!!! Anyway... we went away after giving Haeder my phone number and requested him to call us ASA the power resumed!

We were called in about an hour (Power cuts can be bitches at times)and so we reached the Iraqi Restaurant. I was quite excited, obviously, for it was my first ever visit to an Iraqi food joint! My friend hardly showed any emotion and am sure, thought to himself how weird can certain people be because food does influence a lot of their emotions!

In no time, Haeder came to us and gave us the menu.... One thing that I realized as soon as I looked at it is that - It isn't a place for veggie guys and that sheep meat conquered the restaurant's menu.

We ordered Tikka Chicken with Garlic (Rs. 200), Chicken on Rice (Rs. 200), Marq with Sheep meat(Rs. 175) and Hummus Behana (Rs. 90) with Iraqi Bread/Khabuz (Rs.15). (Please see below for pictures)

The 'Tikka Chicken with Garlic' was sort of Indian looking dices of grilled chicken, a bite of which made me realize that it actually was not a very different affair from a regular Chicken Tikka Lehsuni that we generally have at all the north indian/punjabi restaurants. Just that the flavor of the garlic was a little subtle, so much so that after we were done with all our food, my friend very inquisitively asked me "where was the garlic in the chicken tikka" :D

The chicken tikka was a good start, very less spice and salt, and came with such freebies as onions, a grilled tomato, cucumbers, beans, etc. A good entree with Khabuz and Hummus, though not really recommended for an average Dilliwalla, who loves his butter chicken and malai tikka!

'Chicken on Rice' was a surprise as the dish that arrived had a pile of plain rice, with a few fried dried fruits such as almonds, raisins, etc. besides some peas. The chicken was most probably more than one-quarter of a fried chicken that had no curry with it! What is different with the middle-eastern/Arab cuisine is that they do not remove the skin from the poultry they cook, unlike the north indian cuisine.
Again, a typical low-salt, low-spice chicken with extra good rice, full of aroma.

Marq with sheep meat was basically an ocra/ lady finger curry that was tomato based. Less spicy again and not too heavy, unlike what is generally stereotyped with middle-eastern curries! My friend hated it as soon as he tried it, where I quite liked the entire concept of a lady finger curry with a huge serving of meat! I enjoyed my rice (from the previous dish) with Marq.

All this while, we kept on munching the hummus with the khabuz (pita bread/lebanese bread/iraqi bread) and filled ourselves completely!

What arrived at the end was a complimentary black tea (known as Iraqi Tea) which was quite strong and made a lot of sense after we ate so much of the 'new' food!

All in all, a very good option for the ones who do not mind trying out and being adventurous with food! As Haeder puts "The restaurant has found a good clientele in not only the Iraqi expats but also other middle eastern, Arab and european expats who stay in the vicinity of this new food joint"!

Food - * * *
Service - * * * *
Decor - * * *

Street Parking, you might have to fight for a space!

PS - They also prepare a whole sheep (for Rs 6,000) and serve it with appetizers, if you order a day in advance :)
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