Bilal Hotel – Matia Mahal lane, Jama Masjid
The Mughal Empire is known for its grandeur reflected by the larger than life architecture, the flamboyant culture and the eclectic artistry. The Mughal emperors also brought with them the fascination for a rich and diverse cuisine, which led to the conception of a variety of dishes that are popular even today. One of the dishes that originated during the last Mughal Sultanate is called Nihari, a slow cooked beef stew eaten for breakfast. First developed in the late eighteenth century, Nihari was a favourite among the Nawabs. It was part of the meal eaten after the Fajr prayer or the Morning Prayer followed by a long nap. Today, Nihari is served mostly in the Old Delhi area, specifically in the restaurants around Jama Masjid and is eaten for lunch and dinner as well.
Located in the Matia Mahal lane, near Jama Masjid is a restaurant known for its delicious Nihari that takes almost 12 hours to cook. For the first few hours the Nihari is cooked on low flame in a large vessel followed by smoking of the dish, popularly called dum for 3-4 hours. The preparation for Nihari served at the restaurant in the morning starts the previous evening and takes the entire night to cook. Served with Khameeri Roti, the Nihari at Bilal proves to be a hearty meal priced at only Rs. 45. Topped with fresh green chillies, the Nihari has tender, succulent pieces of meat in viscous gravy, which is not very spicy. The Khameeri roti is made with Rawa Maida and has a slightly different texture as compared to the regular Tandoori roti. The best part about the Nihari is the boneless pieces of meat that taste delish with the roti. This meal is so fulfilling that the Nihari gets over by 4 pm every day.
The restaurant was established by Mr. Mohammed Bilal in 1990 and has been serving lip-smacking chicken and mutton dishes to its patrons since. Just as Nihari, chicken korma and beef korma are two dishes equally appreciated by the locals. Every meal is very economically priced providing an extraordinary culinary experience for a reasonable amount of money. Thus, this joint is bliss for mutton lovers.
Address: Bilal, Matia Mahal lane, Urdu Bazaar
Cost for two: Rs. 200
Naaz Tandoor – Jama Masjid
Purani dilli, once filled with mansions and forts of noblemen from the Mughal dynasty, now caters to the heaving crowd of modern world. Despite having become a bustling trade centre, it still enchants visitors with its undying splendour. Old Delhi is most acknowledged for its street food and whenever non-vegetarian delicacies are discussed among foodies in Delhi, the famed by lanes of Jama Masjid area are definitely mentioned. These crowded ‘gullies’ are known for their numerous eateries that serve an array of chicken and mutton delights. One of the many establishments that caught my eye was Naaz Tandoor.
Located on the urdu lane, opposite Jama Masjid, Naaz Tandoor welcomes people with the sight of fresh preparations of Tandoori chicken which fill the area with a distinctive smoky aroma. Mohammed Alam, the chef at Naaz Tandoor, sits at the entrance preparing the items on the menu all day long. This man has been a part of the joint since its conception in 1960 and has been cooking delicious chicken fry for its customers.
Although the most popular dish on their menu is chicken fry, I decided to go with the good old Tandoori chicken. The chicken was served with freshly chopped onions, green chilli lemon and chutney made of yellow chilli pepper. For me, the yellow chilli chutney was the highlight of the visit. Its spicy preparation complimented the umami taste in chicken exceptionally well. The piece of tandoori chicken was glazed with ample amounts of chaat masala which added a tangy twist to the meal. I also ordered half a plate of chicken biryani to give the meal a wholesome feel and the quantity does not disappoint. Half plate biryani is enough for two people and it is made with aromatic basmati rice covered with perfect amount of spices that give it a characteristic taste.
In an area dominated by restaurants selling a variety of mutton dishes, this joint stands out for its chicken items. Established by Adil Hassan, this eatery serves deliciously fresh chicken and fish preparations to over 200 customers each day. It is one of the popular choices among the locals as it serves delectable food for a low-price.
Cost for two: INR 300
Address: Urdu Bazaar, opposite Jama Masjid