Enter Zaffran, one look around the place and you’ll need a moment to recover from its grandeur. The two-storey restaurant has a high ceilings, the soft halogen ceiling lights, tea-light candles and dark mahogany furniture that reminds you of royal dining halls that you probably read about as a child.
As we made our way to the private dining section, we noticed some rather interesting decor; gigantic birdcage like structures hanging from the ceiling, each enclosing a separate table. Kind of like an exotic animal enclosure, if you’re into that sort of thing. Gauging by the fact that all those tables were booked, there is probably a larger market for this kind of seating than we thought.
We suppressed our curiosity to see what all the fuss was about and decided to concentrate on the food instead. After spending about fifteen minutes going through the extensive menu, we decided on a few starters, a couple of mains and their signature desserts.
The Murg Zaffrani shorba (Rs 150) was an excellent choice to begin our meal. The soup was a mildly spiced chicken broth, with soft shredded chicken and a smooth creamy texture. The hint of saffron and sweet flavour of the deep fried onions (birista) made it an instant hit with us. It tasted even better with the plain naan, and we could’ve easily made a meal of it.
Before we could think of curling up for a little nap on the huge chairs, our starters arrived. Of the vegetarian platter, we loved the Galouti kebab (Rs 250) and Tandoor broccoli (Rs 250), simply because it didn’t taste anything like regular vegetarian fare.
The Galouti kebab was mildly spiced and melted as soon as we took a bite. The broccoli was peppery and crunchy. We almost professed our loyalty to the greens when the Ghost seekh kebab (Rs 400) and Lasooni prawns (Rs 550) broke our stupor. With the flavours of ginger and green chilli, the kebabs were a tad fiery for our palate, yet delicious. The prawns were fresh and tender with a subtle garlic flavour. Ten minutes and a little squabble over the last Galouti kebab later, our platters were clean.
With our hunger partially satiated, we relaxed a little and sipped on our mocktails. The Kacchi kairi margarita (Rs 125) topped with chaat masala was cool, refreshing and went down easily. Thankfully, the sour taste of the kairi overpowered the dash of spice from the green chillies. The Green apple mojito (Rs 125) - green apple flavoured syrup in lemon soda with crushed mint leaves had some bold flavours, yet couldn’t compete with the margarita.
The Zaffran signature butter chicken (Rs 350) - a slightly sweet tomato-based gravy was served up soon, though we struggled to find it underneath the film of grease that formed the top most layer. While we enjoyed the juicy pieces of chicken, we weren’t impressed with the overly sweet taste. Surprisingly, the Lachcha paratha that we had with it stole the show. The meat in the Zaffrani raan biryani (Rs 1,250) was tender with a robust meaty flavour. The rice too was just right.
Despite being in no condition to eat another morsel, we drew inspiration from Jughead and boldly attacked our desserts - Gulab jamun (Rs 85), Zaffrani phirni (Rs 95) and Chenna payesh (Rs 95). The perfect solution for a case of chronic sweet tooth - the Zaffrani phirni was soft, slightly milky and a little too sweet.
On the flip side, the Chenna payesh was not too sweet. A deceptively simple-looking dish made with grated paneer, milk and sugar, it is cooked until it has a smooth, almost custard like texture and then generously sprinkled with almonds and pistachios. The version we tried here didn’t disappoint us and had us wishing for some more space in our already full stomachs.
Wonderful ambience, courteous service and delicious food, Zaffran makes it to the top of our list for places to enjoy a Mughlai meal in the city. Stop by it and tell us what you think after on burrp!
Must Try: Murg Zaffrani Shorba, Chenna Payesh
Meal for two: Rs 1,500 + taxes (without alcohol)