by Moza AlKharusi
Four months into Delhi I was craving a traditional shawarma…the one with the perfectly spiced shredded chicken with traditional tahini sauce and wrapped in a soft lightly charred pita bread… I asked a few of my Arab mom friends from school and they directed me to a place in Malcha Marg but warned me that its not a traditional middle eastern restaurant but the closest you can get in Delhi. Disheartened, I thought all hope was lost until a week later while exploring MG road for some furniture shopping I noticed a signboard on a building that was just off MG Rd that read “Kunafa”. I instantly asked my driver to make a sharp left and we made a bee line to the building (as with most roads in Delhi with a few diversions along the way!). The excitement that bubbled in my belly at the thought of eating a slice of kunafa was overwhelming. Kunafa is a dessert specialty of the levant and Egypt consists of flaky dough and soft cheese topped with rosewater or orange blossom syrup and crushed pistachios. There are over 10 different types but the most popular (and two of my favorites) are Kunafa Khishneh, made with crispy shredded phyllo dough while kunafa Naameh that is smooth and topped with ground semolina dough.
Once inside the place was packed, granted its a small space with only a handful of tables but clearly it is a favorite in the area since every single table was taken. On the left hand side of the entrance there is huge display counter with an assortment of Baklava (rich, sweet dessert pastry made of layers of fill pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and bound together with syrup or honey) and after that is the open style kitchen with a big chicken shawarma stand. The smells wafting from the kitchen were intoxicating! I wanted to eat everything!
After scanning the menu I settled for a chicken shawarma, fattoush salad and hummus- wanting to keep space for dessert. Within 5 mins my hummus arrived with a basket of freshly baked soft pita bread and salad…. tasted like home. Then the chicken shawarma arrived and after the first bite I was transported home! It was absolutely delicious and exactly as its supposed to be, the spices the consistency of the tahini sauce and the perfect crunch on the pita bread. When the waiter asked if I needed anything else I asked if I could talk to the chef…just to thank him for this amazing meal. Chef Abu Noor is from Syria- hence the authentic taste! We chatted over some Turkish coffee and he explained that this is Kunafa’s second branch. The first one is in Lodhi colony in Meharchand Market but they only sell their baklava and desserts. I left that day with a full stomach and extra baklava as a takeaway for the kids (they were over the moon).
I can’t recommend Kunafa enough. They have an array of hot and cold mezzas and lots of vegetarian options. Pre COVID we visited often and after the lockdown we continued to enjoy our favorites through their home delivery service. Trust me you would not be disappointed.
Kunafa Website: http://www.kunafa.in
For their dessert
70, Mehar Chand Market, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi
11am – 9pm Mon-Sun
Full range menu
117A, Ground Floor, The Gallery On MG, Sultanpur, MG Road, New Delhi
12noon – 10pm Mon-Sun
+91 98996 66880