Delhi is often described as the food capital of the country. And why not? It’s culinary history is what legends are made of. The city perceives food not just as a necessity, but as a way of living. The centuries old traditions have managed to keep pace with the sands of time and re-invent themselves according to the tastes of generations.
I feel that the real gastronomic essence of Delhi lies not in the luxurious 5 stars and the swanky restro bars, but in the dusty by lanes and in the chaotic bazars of the old city.
It was in the search of this facet of the city, that I forayed into the hustle and bustle of Nizamuddin basti in search of the legendary ‘Nasir Iqbal’.
I didn’t have to venture too far as the place is located a few steps inside the main road, just opposite Markash. Like any other traditional eatery, the building didn’t look glamorous at all, but it didn’t matter, as this was not what I was interested in.
Just a step inside, and the ‘Shahi’ aroma had already started to cast its spell on me. I managed to grab the corner seat and waited for my taste buds to explode.
I am thankful to Mr Shoaib, the restaurant manager, who patiently sorted out my queries and took me deep inside into the world of Nasir Iqbal.
The restaurant was opened in 1986 by Nasir, son of Iqbal, who migrated to India after partition, by the name of ‘Nasir Iqbal’ dhaba. The beginning was really humble, as the dhaba served only ‘Paratha’ and boiled eggs. They gradually forayed into Mughlai cuisine, and in no time, became one of the most popular dhabas of the area.
Till 1995, they served only beef, but as the demand grew, they started making chicken and mutton recipies too. Now, the restaurant serves only chicken and mutton items.
From inside, the restaurant was clean and seemed good enough for an entire family to go together. Its a double storey structure with a seating capacity of close to 200 people.
The menu consists of everything you can possibly think of in a Mughlai feast. More than what to order, the dilemma was what to leave!! Shoiab again provided a helping hand. On asking what would he order as a guest, pat came his reply…
“Try our Mutton Shami Kabab n Seekh Kabab for starters”. His pride said it all. The kebab melted in the mouth and left a gentle and delightful note. Surely a must try. Their Mutton fry was another pick of the draw. The marination was perfect. While preparing Tandoori Chicken, they make it a point to use only a small chicken (700-800gm). This makes it soft and succulent.
I was totally into the groove by now; it was time to take it onto the next level. I ordered the evergreen Mutton qorma and stew for the main course. And boy, did I make the right choice..I was actually able to sense each and every spice put into the gravy (cloves,cardamom,garam masala among others). The gravy was thick and made the experience a delight indeed!!!
As I feasted, Shoaib gave me an insight into another of their speciality; the Mughlai Kadai Chicken. When I enquired, saying it to be generally perceived as a Punjabi dish, he explained how they make it differently. They don’t put any ‘Shimla Mirch’, and the way different spices are blended together, it gives an altogether different dimension and a unique taste, thus, setting it apart from its Punjabi counterpart.
And then, came the main part. Its a crime to leave your seat at Nasir Iqbal without tasting their legendary dum biryani. The aroma was to die for. It had a captivating effect the moment the lid opened. The flavour was mild and left a subtle impact. Meat was perfectly cooked and the chutney added a different dimension to the overall experience. It did live up to the expectations….
I was in no mood to do any changes to the royal taste I had generated in the last half an hour, but finally gave up in order to make the feast a complete one. They have a decent enough option for dessert ranging from ‘Gajar halwa’ to ‘Gulab Jamun’, ‘Kheer’ and ‘Phirni’ for the winters. In summers,they treat you with ‘Badam shake’, ‘Rabri Faluda’ and’ Lassi’. I tried their ‘Shahi Tukda’.
Nasir Iqbal was truly worth the visit. The place has got all the ingredients right; great taste, decent ambience, making it a true value for money. It caters to the needs of people from all levels. A group of 5-6 adults can easily have a sumptuous feast inside a budget of Rs 2000.
Naseer Iqbal is slowly and steadily starting to make its presence felt among the food lovers of the city…A goup of Australian tourists had left just 5 minutes back with a grin on their face
When are you going?????
Location – Opposite Markash, Nizamuddin West, New Delhi.
Parking – Near Nizamudin Police Station ( 5 min walk from the restaurant )
Timing – 12pm – 12am
Open 7 days a week. No beef used.