Islamabad - An eighteenth-century culinary renaissance that has become a waterhole for the foodies craving for Mughlai cuisine can now satiate their gastronomic rage for nihari at Dilli Darwaza, located at Beverly Centre, Blue Area Islamabad. The eatery is managed by a young business graduate Taha Abbas and supervised by two partners behind the scene. Dilli Darwaza menu is limited to Nihari exclusively but in different varieties. “The nihari is cooked in a bulk 10-12 kilograms every day and offered with different add-ons in the likes of Nihari Khaas with Nalli (bone marrow), Mughlai Nihari with Maghaz (brain) and top-of-the-line Shahi Nihari with both nalli and maghaz,” informed Abbas.

The doors at Dilli Darwaza opened last year close to Ramazan and according to Abbas, customers were willing to wait happily for 30 to 40 minutes to eat nihari at the eatery. With no marketing and just word of mouth, the eatery took the city by storm. The place offers a very casual but comfortable seating for 26 guests at a time. Pink and red brick walls festooned with portraits of Mughal emperors, bronze handicrafts, and multi-coloured hangings boost an infused interior.

Sehri at Dilli Darwaza is a scene to witness. The summer heat has done little to stop nihari lovers from consuming this royal delicacy. Our order of Nihari Khaas and Mughlai Nihari arrived in white platters, condiments on the side, garnish on the top and piping hot nan in a jute basket. The presentation secured full marks - a copious beef shank resting in a pool of golden brown thick gravy. The tantalizing aroma of the ambrosial nihari wafted the sitting area of this 12x60 feet eatery right from the kitchen.  

The stew lean beef was tender as well as firmly textured. The gravy was light and easy on the spice level. “It is my mom’s recipe, which comes with two benefits. It tastes like homemade nihari and if the cooked is a no-show, the damage control is managed from home,” Abbas joked. Foodies who crave for nihari or diehard nihari fans pamper their appetites to the fullest. ‘Aam Nihari’ at Dilli Darwaza is consumed the most. It is their signature nihari, which is acceptable to the general public at large. However, nihari addicts mostly opt for Mughlai Nihari or Shahi Nihari. When one decides to eat nihari, he or she is not worried about cholesterol level or weight gain, Abbas informed.

The nans at Dilli Darwaza are of two types, both baked in a secret recipe. The plain nan and sesame seed nan. The dough is the same but the garnishing of sesame seeds changes the taste of the latter. Although doodh patti, green tea, mint lemonade did not cater to the list of Mughal emperors era, the eatery can be given leverage as they are catering to the commoners of the town. Sweet Lassi and Mint Lemonade provided the perfect recipe for quenching the thirst post Maghaz Nihari. Do not miss out Dilli Darwaza on your list for this Ramazan.

–The writer is a freelance contributor.