While many of us are well acquainted with the rich mughlai culinary heritage of Delhi by way of the ever popular Jama Masjid area, not many know that a similar (and less expensive) food trail exists in a tucked away narrow, busy and bustling by-lane of south east Delhi in Zakir Nagar (the Batla house area). All of these restaurants serve mostly the same, yet off the hook fare, consisting of primarily bade ka (buffalo) meat preparations and tandoori rotis, aromatic biryanis and chicken preparations to a large captive community of eaters. Here, our top picks.

Purani Dilli Restaurant

This might just be the only “family friendly” (read air conditioned and comfortable chairs) place in the entire strip. Since it’s also the most upmarket of them all catering to a more demographically varied crowd, it actually just serves mutton and chicken dishes (buffalo is much cheaper to consume for lower middle class muslims residing in the area). Must haves are the Mutton dishes like Burra and Nihari. Go for the Biryanis too – you will be pleasantly surprised The much touted mutton Haleem is tasty, but nothing to write home about. All in all, a non-flamboyant place serving up some delectable mughlai cuisine, the way it should be done.

Where: 371, Main Road, Zakir Nagar, New Delhi ; Contact: 9891878333, 9999816299

Price: INR 550 for two

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Dilli Nihari

A non-descript place, this one is located right at the entrance of the gali. There’s a rickety climb onto the upper ground floor of the building and you are immediately hit by the wondrous aroma emanating from the open cooking area. While hygiene doesn’t get full marks here, the food surely does. There’s the piping hot Paya, succulent hooves of a buffalo and the tenderness of the Qorma and Saag Gosht. Not to forget the must have, Bheja Masala (brains cooked delectably in a rich gravy) and in the evenings they bring on their namesake, the Nihari. This is truly well made at this place with the constant stoking and stirring of the pot happening for hours and hours. Pair all of the above with the rotis and you are sure to go home one content person.

Where: 24/18, Main Road, Okhla, Zakir Nagar, New Delhi; Contact: 9811579328

Price: INR 250 for two

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Shama Biryani Centre

This one’s located right opposite Dilli Nihari and serves only Biryanis (Buffalo and Chicken) and delicious melt in your mouth bade ke (buffalo) chapli kababs with paranthas. A must go to place in Zakir Nagar! Its teeming with people and seating is limited.

Where: Opposite Dilli Nihari, Main Road, Zakir Nagar, New Delhi; Contact: 9873464296

Price: INR 250 for two

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Madina Hotel

Whipping up delicacies like Paya, Nihari, Bheja, Qorma, Kadahi Ghosht and Daal Gosht, this one is right up there when it comes to taste and value for money. Following in the footsteps of its other siblings in the area, this one too is a no-frill eatery with not much care for hygiene. But again, the food trumps all! The seating is a bit suspect here during rush hours with hardly 4-5 tables so the ability to take away may come handy!

Where: 6, Main Road, Zakir Nagar, New Delhi ; Contact: 9540300351

Price: INR 200 for two

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