I have been to the Hotel many times as their Grand hall was given out and I enjoyed being a part of those events. Somehow I never managed to get back to the hotel from Gurgaon to try out their restaurant even though it had caught my eye on a number of occasions. Well they say better late than never and finally as I happened to be in Siri Fort for an event one day, I finally made it here for lunch.
The hotel had certainly lost a bit of their charm as I visited after 6 years or so but it was my first time at Zerzura and I was quite pleased with what I saw. They have two seating areas- indoor and outdoor; both have their own charm but with the heat in Delhi there was no choice but to sit inside. There are low couches to provide semi private dining areas inside and the outdoor area has wooden furniture.
Zerzura is a mystical city in the Sahara rumoured to be full of treasure. Well I think the cuisine offered here is no less. My introduction to Lebanese food was with Shawarmas eaten at New Friends Colony or kebabs I sampled during my trip to Dubai. I was quite keen to try some more and appreciate their food further. Though Lebanese cooking is more meat-centric I liked how their menu keeps in mind that Indians do love their veg as well. I found quite a few innovative veg versions to try which were quite yumm as well.
Get Set Gobble:
~ Life at the bar – I tried the Mezzotini that came recommended from the bartender. It was served in an ice bowl that was punctured at the top to pour in the drink. This was a really fun and refreshing drink for the summer. The have the options of different flavours and I tried the Grren Apple one. You can also pick the Coffee, Chocolate, Watermelon or Cranberry version. One mocktail that really wowed us was the Jaffa orange with dates. It had a sweet tangy flavour and the chopped dates on top was a nice touch. Zerzura banta was a drink that did not make it in the same league in terms of looks but one sip and I was hooked. The lovely gal jeera taste was amazing. They have some good cocktail and mocktail recipes under their belt and In think you should have a word with the bartender and try them out. MUST TRY
~ Mezze platter – We were started off with the veg and non veg mezze platter both of which had quite a scrumptious variety to taste. The non veg had chicken wings with sumac and zatar which would undoubtedly have to be the favourite thing in the platter for me. Slightly spicy with a sticky sauce, it hit all the right notes as I ate away piece after piece :)) Kibbeh meshwee was a sweet spicy lamb and Ankara style lamb tarts had a tangy tomato sauce base. The veg version had crispy fried falafels that were crunchy and tasted very similar to a hara bhara kebab (great way to get the veggies in your system right :-P). There were also cheese samosik (samosa) and a veg version of the tarts with zucchini. I have to say, the veg version was almost as good as the non veg one in terms of flavour. These are all served with hummus, Baba ganoush, Cacik as dips and a pomegranate and pineapple tabouleh. Make sure you use the accompaniments to your advantage and dip the items generously before eating…I mean they have been provided for a reason. A special mention goes to their pita bread that is fresh oven baked and sort of resembles an air puffed roti. Rather than the usual thick one I am used to eating, I quite enjoyed these for a change. MUST ORDER
~ Orfali kebabs – If you dine at Zerzura, you simply cannot miss this dish on the menu. It is simply Lebanese cooking at its best. Made with spicy lamb mince and bell peppers, the kebabs are char grilled during which they release their oils and flavour to make them super soft, juicy and flavorful. Miss it at your own risk. You’ve been warned. 😛 MUST ORDER
~Potato and pepper Chelo – Similar in presentation to the non veg kebab, this one is made of a potato mix. I got my hands on the non veg version first so there’s no saying which one I’d rather order.
~ Chicken tagine – This is a very popular style of cooking in the Middle East. This tagine had saffron with green olives and preserved lemon. It tasted very good and the couscous was absolutely well prepared. I can say this for a fact as I DO NOT like couscous otherwise…I rather run away from dishes with it. But this was fine and not too sticky or chewy. Upon first lifting the lid to look at the dish, my friend exclaimed that this was the Middle Eastern version of kadhi chawal 😛 MUST TRY
~ Bus station kefta – These are lamb kebabs prepared in a tomato gravy with eggs on top and served straight in the pan they have been oven baked in. What a beautiful meaty sight! The dish has been named as such as this is a street side preparation that is found along bus stations that can be eaten by people on the go. Loved it! MUST TRY
~ Imam biyaldi – When the dish was served, for a moment we thought this was a non vegetarian one (I mean it looked that good that people on the table were misled :-P). When we went on to taste it, it’s almost like a brinjal pizza with a thick onion, garlic and tomato stuffing inside braised eggplants. MUST TRY
~ Traditional baklava – I do not have any happy memories of baklava as wherever I have managed to taste them in the past, it has been too sweet, sticky and rich for me. I tried their version with huge skepticism but was surprised to see that this wasn’t too heavy on my palette. What obviously helped though was the pistachio ice cream served with it. MUST TRY
~ Date and fig gratin – This was served with a scoop of rosemary and honey ice cream. It had a soft grainy texture resembling that of our halwas. This was a bit too heavy and not for my palette.
~ M’hanncha – Served with cinnamon ice cream, this looked like it had the consistency of a halwa but as we put a spoon though it, we were surprised to find that it had a layer of crunchy exterior.
Lip smacking Middle eastern food. Great vegetarian dishes on the menu.
Tips & Tricks:
The place is on a bit of a secluded stretch and I feel its best to get here in your private transport. They have belly dancing performances so if that interests you, make sure you check up in advance about the schedule.