by Yumna Rafi
The long queue of cars parked on the narrow Alamgir Road was extraordinary; to an onlooker it may seem like a parking space outside a wedding hall, or for the Alamgir masjid (mosque) on the adjacent road or simply just the traffic jam. But it was neither. The huge turnout was for a humble dhaba (restaurant) barely visible amidst the commotion of people and vehicles.
The source of attraction for the populace was Zameer Ansari, a barbecue restaurant in Bahadurabad, which had been a popular eating outlet for men in the neighbourhood for years. But word quickly spread around for its exceptional food and their clientele widened to include families as well.
With the rise in demand, the restaurant which was formerly limited to a few carelessly assembled chairs and tables on the footpath was renovated to accommodate more people. The narrow shop and the mezzanine floor above were refurbished into a sitting place for families.
The expansion still seemed inadequate; due to the limited space many resorted to eating in their cars while young, male diners were accommodated in the adjacent Quetta Alamgir Hotel which generously welcomed their neighbour's customers.
The aura of the dhaba is entrenched in Pakistan's culture where an informal sitting of chairs, the frequent blast of smoke from the grilling botis (grilled meat) on the skewers with cats lapping around the feet as one devours the food is all part of the eating decorum. What is exceptional about the setting is that it attracts people from all segments, overcoming any class, sect or gender differences. Such is the uniting power of food.
There are numerous small hotels and kebab houses offering barbecue variety in virtually all areas of Karachi. So how does Zameer Ansari differ?
For foodies, it only takes a few bites for the taste buds to catch on a unique flavour. Such is the case with the 'malai boti' (grilled chicken-meat cubes) and 'green chicken tikka' (grilled chicken meat) at Zameer Ansari which melts in the mouth and leaves a spicy tangy flavour behind. The extra zing and zip in their dishes owes to their recipes which originates from the 'Konkans', a branch of the Delhi workmen community. Their traditional recipes have generous amount of chilies and spices which is the highlight of most of their dishes.
Apart from their supply of succulent grilled meat, other factors that makes one return to this place is their exceptional service. Although there are only three waiters, Hameed, Haseeb and Naqeeb Khan, their amiable disposition towards everyone does not falter. The food is swiftly served within 15 minutes of ordering which is a delight to any hungry stomach. What's best is the price range of the dishes from 130 Pakistani rupees (US$1.28) to 150 Pakistani rupees (US$1.47) per person - a modest price for a hefty meal. — Dawn.com (Pakistan)