Here it is. One more in the category of casual favorite restaurants
that has hit the sweet spot. It has done so with value for money,
consistently standard fare and large portions. There is a lot to be
said in favor of these kind of restaurants that do not flex their PR
muscle or stir up hype and hoopla but open silently. Like Zaffran did
a few months ago, this time in Lower Parel. The very first Zaffran set
up in Crawford Market ten years ago continues to magnetize the younger
(and especially the night-bird crowd…its open till 4am). Masala-laden,
North West Frontier chunks of meats and creamy gravies continue to
draw packed houses to Zaffran’s branches across the city. Not exactly
the kind of eatery my globetrotting gourmet guests would regularly
patronize. Washington based high-flying chief of a multi-national
company, the dapper Kaushik Vyas mixes his eating out with his
American wife’s domestic bill of fare the dishes of which are indeed
multinationally flavored.So,his standards are high. He regularly
challenges great chefs to cook up “fat free yet delicious fare” but
his heart is Indian which is why he agreed to Zaffran.
New Yorker Chandresh Mehta is into fashion, garments and is a
vegetarian connoisseur of old style French and Michelin starred
restaurants. He plans holidays around truffles and restaurants. Sanjay
Mehta, the pathologist who is into food and water testing tries his
hand(palate?) at food tasting along with his friendly wife Sonal. Yes! they all approve! They will return to Zaffran, they
say as they raise a toast with Kachi keri Margherita.
Zaffran has opened in the same space as the short-lived night-club
Zinc, (right opposite Blue Frog.) In a large twin-leveled space,
modern moghul domes (which look a bit like bird cages) adorn the
ground floor tables. Walk upto the first floor (which can also double
up as a banquet hall) and the décor is simpler and more functional.
Pleasant.A well-stocked bar too.
This is the very first Indian restaurant review in which I am
beginning with desserts. Spongy, luscious orbs of delight be it the
chilled Channa Payesh, Rasmalai or the garmagaram pillowy gulabjamun.
Zaffrani phirni delights too. Priced at Rs 120 each. Three veggies
dishes stand out, the chatpatta , crisp aloo tuk chaat, melt in the
mouth vegetarian version of the popular Galouti Kabab and the kasoori
methi spiked paneer makhanwala. Its non vegetarian chicken version is
addictive too. The masala rich handi gosht, flavorsome Nihari Gosht
and lasooni jhinga are unerringly cooked.
When we visit, both levels are packed and the noise levels high. No
carpeting or curtains to absorb the loud noise levels. Surprisingly,
the usually good Galouti kabab and seekh kabab disappoint. They are
both dry and hard. An overload of tandoori masala kills the delicate
pomfret. As does the overdose of masala in the otherwise succulent
The good news is that, the entire menu is served from noon till past
midnight. 34 year old Chetan Sethi and Munib Birya, (whove partnered
and opened 8 restaurants since they were 24 years old) ensure that the
desserts are memorable and their food is robust, sometimes proudly
unsubtle, hammering away at its intended effect.Happily, there’s
nothing high-flown about Zaffran or the prices (Rs 1000 meal for two).
Zaffran Mathuradas Mills, next to Blue Frog, Lower Parel. Ph 33789525
Open 12 noon to 1.30am
for two Rs 1,000
RATING FOOD 3.5 SERVICE 3.5 DÉCOR 3.5
YOU ARE NEEDED
The countdown has begun. I’m beginning research on your very own 2014
edition of The Times Food guide, Nightlife guide and Caterers guide.
Now is the time to be a part of it.
· * Do you make desserts? Cater? Supply food services? Make tiffin
dabbas? Or have any tried and tested and tasted favorites? Please
share them with me.
· * Share your favorite restaurants, especially small, off the
eaten track ones…
· * Would you like to accompany me on my eatbouts? Lets eat at
your rare discoveries. Especially in Crawford Market? Byculla?
Andheri? Malad? Ghatkopar?
* please send me your contact details by email
* Waitingly yours.