Dine-out in the red-light area of Lahore

Wrong guess. It’s not about Cuckoo’s – continue reading!

I have this bad habit of roaming around the city with friends on the weekends and like all Lahoris, dining out in the end with no good entertainment options available. Being fed up of the exquisite restaurants, all stereo-typed to the same M.M.Alam road restaurants; I wanted to try something different. Something traditional at a non-fancy place. One reason for this was the FASTRising’s in-house resolution which states “visit to fancy, expensive restaurants will be limited and local, traditional places would be tried to promote local culture, improve their sales and to save some money to be used in various social/political causes

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So, It’s about a cheap dhaaba type of restaurant right in the heart of red-light area of the historical city of Lahore. I had this old fantasy to see how do the red-light area looks and this weekend I got a chance to visit and roam around the area for a couple of hours. Arif Chatkhara is just a few meters away from the Badshahi masjid right in the centre of heera-mandi, the red-light area of Lahore.

Arif Chatkhara is known for its tawa-chicken which they are serving for over a decade.

The picture above shows the famous ‘Phajja Siri Pai‘ right next to the Arif Chatkhara. Probably that is the most famous traditional/cultural dine-out place for the Lahoris, in the true sense of the word. On the right is yet another tawa-chicken restaurant.

We reached the place around 12 in the night when the bazaar was bright with lights all around and the business seemed to be going well. Passing through the famous khussa bazaar of taxaali gate and the tibbi gali we reached the restaurant all the way on a single road just a few meters wide. Its a dhaaba kind of restaurant where they have huge frying pans set out on the road and a reasonable dining room equipped with air-conditioner. I could smell the spicy tawa chicken parking my car a few meters away. With watered mouth, battling the hunger we order the tawa-chicken and the andaa-tikki – the only two dishes that they serve. Tawa chicken can be ordered in leg or breast piece. The spicy dish is prepared with green chillies, lemon, onions and don’t know what which makes it hell of spicy. If it was on the menu of Nandos, they would have given 10 chilli signs to it to show its spiciness 😀 The best part was the rotis. You are served with a roti with size and thickness as of a newspaper and trust me it was great! The anda-tikki is something less spicy prepared with eggs, daal and chillies – tastes great.

With the murghi burning inside us for its spiciness, we roamed around the area for half an hour. For the apparently incompatible mummy-daddy image of the fellows for the place we were roaming around, people continued to stare us all the time. But anyway, it was a nice experience and the food was great. Someday if you are in the same mood of being a bit weird / experimental and you can afford to eat something as spicy to the limits of your imagination, do give it a try. [Photos]


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