Panda Peeks – Zafran
Situated in one of the most elite settings in Lahore, Zafran is a desi restaurant located in Y Block, Defence. One interesting thing about the location of the restaurant is how it challenges Lahoris to ignore all the diversified eatery options in the area and opt to enjoy the comfort of delicious desi meals.
One specific element in the restaurant definitely caught me off guard as soon as I entered the premises – the glassware. Meeting the standards of a desi ambience, Zafran’s culinary and glassware is not only traditional but is definitely hooking to those who appreciates having their meals in decent dishes. In addition to this, following the desi code, sufi songs were in reply, adding a desi, Pakistani touch to the entire experience.
I personally didn’t have the leisure of dining outdoors in a desi restaurant since quite some time. Given the opportunity, I tried ordering a versatile desi mix. Beginning with the starters, we ordered BBQ Platter which included four different food items. In the main course, we ordered Butter Chicken, Murgh Madrasi and Chilman Biryani. Finally, for dessert, we ordered Coconut Halwa, something which I needed to alter the taste of gajjar ka halwa AKA the famous winter seasonal meetha.
As there were not many people at the restaurant during that specific time, so there were no delays in meal preparation and serving time. Everything was nicely served by extremely well-mannered waiters.
Before the lunch, we were served with complimentary Margarita Shots and a naan-chutney platter consisting of three different chutney (sauces) along with fresh naans. The shots were extremely refreshing. While on the platter, the first chutney, the apple chutney was a blend of sweet and sour which perfectly complimented the naans. The next chutney was khubani (apricot) chutney. I was trying for the very first time; it tasted sweet and sour, had a rich taste and was well-complemented by kishmish. Finally, we had tamarind (imlee) chutney, something Punjabis love to have and I enjoyed the sourness thoroughly.
Next, we were served with the BBQ platter which was a mix of mutton, chicken and seafood. Being a BBQ food fan, this combination had my hunger arose because it had everything on one plate: 2 pieces of chicken seekh kebab, 4 pieces of chicken malai boti, 2 pieces of chanp and 2 pieces of prawns (dum jheenga).
As to taste, seekh kebabs were not only tender but were extremely juicy as well. However, their taste seemed a little bland and I felt the chef was too lenient while adding salt to the kebab. Malai boti was juicy and tasted really good; it tasted more like a tikka boti but was satisfying. However, the two items that stole the starters show were prawns and chanp. Made in the coating of baisan with perfect medium spice, salt and grilled in a crisp, tender manner. These were one of the best desi-style prawns I had ever tasted. On the other hand, I am not too big on the beef champ, but these were exceptionally good. They were crispy due to the burnt touch and were easily engulfed due to their juiciness and tenderness.
We were served with three different types of rotis; warqi paratha, tandoori paratha and roghni naan. The warqi paratha was made from a mixture of aata and maida and this particular paratha complimented each and every dish on the table.
Moving on to the main courses, we started with Butter Chicken. Given how orange the colour was, their butter chicken had an Indian touch. I simply loved how soft the chicken was and how I could have a taste of nuts with every single bite. Also, the gravy had a perfect thickness and spice.
Next, we tried Murgh Madrasi, something which was recommended by the mastermind behind Zafran, Mr. Zain. The dish was a complete stellar – perfect in taste, perfect combination of spices and had a perfect touch of garlic and ginger to it. Murgh Madrasi has to be my personal favourite at Zafran!
Finally, we had Chilman Biryani – something I have heard quite many times but never had the pleasure of enjoying. It wasn’t the typical orange-ish biryani you get everywhere rather it was a mix of warm colours, garnished with different types of nuts. The key to enjoying your Chilman Biryani at Zafran is to first have it nicely mixed.
Coming to the dessert, we had Coconut Halwa which was, like all the famous halwas, served hot. Coconuts were richly used in the making of this halwa as every bite of the halwa filled my mouth with sweetness and of course, coconuts.
The food was served in a very decent manner. However, the culinary and glassware was extraordinary and added a traditional touch most of the desi restaurants miss out these days.
Overall, the restaurant offers a comforting ambience and a great value of money. If you love traditional glassware, this place is a perfect fit for you. If you love quality food which will rest on your taste buds for days, Zafran is the place you definitely need to try out!
So, are you up for this desi food extravaganza?
Address: 232, Street 10, Y Block, 54792, Lahore.
Opening hours: Mon – Friday, 01:00pm – 12.30am and Saturday – Sunday, 08.00am – 12.30am
Order online here.
Closet cooking lover. Food enthusiast. Desi and Western food are my weakness, Desserts are tolerable but not desired. Food, gaming and football are equal to Heaven.