Zahrat Al Hayat is a small, basic Pakistani cafeteria in al-Safa. Located behind the Dhi Al Nuwrin Mosque (مسجد ذي النورين – Mosque of the Light) just off Al Wasl road this little hole-in-the-wall eatery may just serve the best Chana Masala this side of Karama, so say British surfer dude brothers Mark and James Amin. So, I went with them early one morning to find out. Okay, to start with there are only two tables inside this stuffy, little, claustrophobic eatery. Irrespective of the weather, you’ll really want to fight off any number of the many Pathans or RTA drivers who frequent this place for one of the two tables on the shaded veranda outside. Then, you’ll also want to thank God that it’s not TOO hot at 07:30 in the a.m.
All superficial, first-world gripes and groans, like hygiene, cleanliness and comfort are soon forgotten when a melamine plate of Chana Masala is plonked in front of you. The Chana is absolutely fantastic, most certainly the best I have had on this side of town. It’s advisable to also order a tawa-fried Paratha which you must first degrease before eating. Mark, an expert at this, used what I can only describe as tracing paper (remember that?) to extract a shocking amount of oil from his Paratha. James and I quickly followed suit. From thereon, I urge you to eat with constraint and consideration to others, remember what those gassy chickpeas will do to you throughout the day.
Service? You must be joking. The AED1 Karak Chai isn’t bad though. So, if you’re in the area and fancy a WMD (weapon of mass destruction) start to the day, consider a plate of Chana Masala, a Paratha and a Chai at Zahrat Al Hayat, all in for under AED10! Thank you, Mark. Thank you, James.
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Xerxes physically visits (and dines at) each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat and drink. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews. What you have read was not influenced in any way by the venue. Join me on Instagram @ravenousxerxes or email me on: email@example.com