Zerzura (Clarion Collection – Qutab, Shaheed Jeet Singh Marg, Near Katwariya Sarai, Qutab Institutional Area, New Delhi)


In a nutshell:

Nice ambience and great friend & family place during day, full blown entertainment including belly dancing in the nights, good staff & some very good Moroccan & Middle Eastern Food.

View from inside a cabannah in Zerzura
View from inside a cabannah at Zerzura

Address & other details: Zerzura

Meal for 2: Rs. 2000 onwards

Cuisine type : Vegetarian & Nonvegetarian

Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.

I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster.

Short Description – in case u r in a hurry:

For the uninitiated, a city by the name of Zerzura was long rumored to have existed deep in the desert west of the Nile River in Egypt or Libya. In writings dating back to the 13th century, the authors spoke of a city which was “white as a dove” and called it “The Oasis of Little Birds”.Inspite odf several mentions in medieval texts, subsequent researchers of 20th century cud not find / locate the city or its ruins.

We wanted to have a good long meal & made it a point to go on a lazy Sunday afternoon & opt for a la carte food. We had heard a lot about the belly dancing and other events that happen on Wednesday & Sunday evenings but we were more interested in belly filling than belly dancing.:)

The advertisement read ‘Enjoy Delirious Nights every Wednesday at Zerzura. Experience the charm and energy of belly dance, strain of great Arabic music and a host of international dancers. Soak in the sights of the mystical and graceful dancers from Morocco, Turkey and the Middle East and get grooving to the beats as some of the best international belly dancers set the floor on fire at Zerzura. Come with your friends or family to enjoy a night of good music, sensual dancing and great food.’

There is some or the other event every day of the week. E.g Thursdays there is an event called Grand Bazaar – serves hidden treats on the streets of Middle East. Pick any hot or cold mezze and enjoy a glass of wine on the house, for every mezze platter ordered the whole table gets a complimentary round of wine.

Fridays have Mystical Sufi Friday. Saturdays r Mezze Sundowners – live performance by Middle-Eastern dancers with Arabic Music.

We were told that guests had partied till early morning Sunday & hence we were the only guests for Sunday lunch!!!! for almost 2 hours & till another couple walked in. The atmosphere of the place in the day time was good enough for a family / friend get together / even for a quiet date. The evenings, I have heard (not experienced myself), at times attracts some ‘not so polished’ crowd who come solely for alcohol & the belly dance.

The seating was in two areas, a closed Dining Hall & a ‘open feel’ area. Both the areas had intricately carved wooden panels & heavy wooden furniture. I mean it – It is a task to lift those chairs if u r not a weight lifter.

The Dining room had a long bar on one side. The ‘open feel area’ was actually interesting. It had full sunlight but that came thru a transparent fiber ceiling & walls. The feel was of outdoor seating but u were spared the extremities of weather. The covered area had air conditioning. Two beautiful cabannas were surely a point of attraction in this ‘open feel’ area.

The service guys were pretty nice. Some were really knowledgeable & some others were nice but needed brush up. We were really happy that one of them offered to show us the traditional process of making a cocktail that involved infusing the drink with spices. I enjoyed brief chats with some of these guys as well.

Loved the food in general & some in particular.

Detailed Description – In case u have the Time to NJOY reading:

We started with Moroccan Harira – This was traditional lamb soup flavored with garlic cinnamon and preserved lemon, garnished with broken sewai (noodles). In short it was a Meat, daal and noodles lamb soup. The lamb was cut into small ieces & was obviously boneless thought it had small bone ends still present one in a while. The soup was Thick in texture, robust in taste & actually pretty great for a winter noon. It as not overtly spicy but not bland at all – kind of comfort food. I loved it & rate it 4.25/5

Moroccan Harira
Moroccan Harira

Post this we had Grilled haloumi. This was a ‘home-made’ cheese, grilled. It was very salty, to begin with. However the taste started growing on us as we kept eating. Liked the nice flavours and unusual texture. It had some good pesto sprinkled on top. Suggest that u eat it as soon as it is served. Once cold, the fun goes. Loved it & rate it 4/5.

Grilled haloumi.
Grilled haloumi.

The next dish we had was Kabab e barg. It was char grilled lamb kabab marinated in olive oil and onion paste, served with garlic labneh. It was Marinated chunks of lamb, in different shapes with charred ends but absolutely melted in the mouth in a little while. Some parts of the kabab were almost as soft as kakori kababz. Flavours were mind blowing good and so was the taste. Super loved it and rate it 4.75/5

Kabab e barg
Kabab e barg

After a showstopper dish we ordered Sheefa. It was in house made bread base topped with boneless cubes of meat and then baked . In short Crispy base with meat cubes on top. The meat cubes were soft and slightly juicy inside but had a slight grilled effect on the top. The base was good to taste & perfectly crispy.This combo of textures surprised me for quite a few bites towards the beginning and I loved it. Awesome. Rate it 4.5/5

Sheefa
Sheefa

The last dish was Traditional Tagine – Couscous with Lamb cutlet, Harissa & fennel tagine. For the uninitiated, tagine is a dish from North Africa that is named after the special earthenware pot in which it is cooked. The traditional tagine pot is formed entirely of a heavy clay, which is sometimes painted or glazed. It consists of two parts: a base unit that is flat and circular with low sides and a large cone- or dome-shaped cover that sits on the base during cooking. The cover is designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom. With the cover removed, the base can be taken to the table for serving.

Couscous with Lamb cutlet, Harissa & fennel tagine
Couscous with Lamb cutlet, Harissa & fennel tagine

Harissa is a Tunisian hot chili sauce whose main ingredients are red roasted peppers and other hot chili peppers and spices and herbs such as garlic paste, coriander seed, red chili powder, caraway as well as some vegetable or olive oil. It is most closely associated with Tunisia, Libya and Algeria.

The Harissa based curry with meatballs was just outstanding. The gravy had a strong taste & great flavors. The meatballs were melt in the mouth & excellent to taste. Super loved this & rate it 4.75/5.

Harissa
Harissa

I was a bit wary of the cous cous as I have not had too many good dishes with cous cous in India. However this one turned out to be quite tasty specially with the gravy. On its own it was Good but not great. I rate the cous cous 3/5.

cous cous
cous cous

Lamb cutlet was flat, had intense taste & robust flavors. It was mildly juicy too. It cud have been a bit softer but was pretty good on its own. I rate the cutlet 3/5.

Lamb cutlet
Lamb cutlet

Overall rating of this dish averages out to 3.6/5.

For drink we opted for Aini – date infused spiced captain Morgan rum with cointreau and Jaffa oranges served in the rocks with soda. What was more interesting than the drink itself was the fact that the server invited us to see how it was being made. We saw the whole process of making the cocktail in front of us. Watching it was fun.

Aini being prepared
Aini being prepared

The instrument used was a set of two glass containers. Connected to each other. Spices & orange peel was kept on the top & the alcohol was kept in the bottom. Live flame ensured the alcohol boiled & reached the vessel above & got infused with eth spices. Once done, this was poured on a glass full of ice & date paste.

Aini - being made . Spices & orange peel infused alcohol
Aini – being made . Spices & orange peel infused alcohol

The drink thus prepared, was predominantly flavored of cloves & orange peel also made its presence felt. Date was somehow lost though it provided the body. It was very good but short of greatness. Rate it 3.5/5.

Aini
Aini

Also tried Bashirah virgin mojito with preserved lemon. For non food adventurers / for whom drink needs to b sweet, pls avoid this. Bitter sour flavor and taste in a salty drink body. Preserved lemon effect got better with every sip. Loved it. This drink acted as a great taste changer (palate cleanser) as well. Rate it 4.25/5.

Bashirah virgin mojito with preserved lemon
Bashirah virgin mojito with preserved lemon

The last item we had on that long afternoon was Dessert sampler. It had 4-5 items in it.
Date & Fig gratin was served to us in a tiny eye shaped dish. It was daanedaar due to the fig & good date added a bit of mushiness. The base was thick & was bidirectionally sweet – sweet but 2 different kinds of sweet. Liked it & rate it 4/5.

Date & Fig gratin
Date & Fig gratin

The Baklava served was one of the best I have had in Delhi. For the uninitiated, Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. Richness of the nuts & the super thin but crispy filo pastry was laudable. Loved it & rate it 4.5/5.

Baklava
Baklava

Cinnamon ice cream was good. It had strong flavors of cinnamon & had tiny black dots all over. Rate it 4/5.

Cinnamon ice cream
Cinnamon ice cream

Classic chocolate cake was average. Nothing different, nothing good. Infact it is a mismatch in this menu. I rate it 2/5.

Classic chocolate cake
Classic chocolate cake

The last item we had in the sampler was M’hanncha. For the uninitiated, M’hanncha means “the snake” and this pastry certainly looks like one! It is made of filo dough and is then coiled like a snake. It is filled with an almond paste. Once again this was very good. The filo pastry was super thin & super crispy. The almonds within were tasty. Rate it 4/5

M’hanncha
M’hanncha

Wow what a meal ………………. Slow & steady, lasted 3 hours.

The Overall rating of food at Zerzura averages out to 4.1/5

I wud surely revisit. How about u?

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