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FryPan’s fusion qatlamas are a must-have for the Lahori foodie

The last time I went to a restaurant, I had objections to their approach: elaborate menu, trying to please everyone with various cuisines and no signature dishes. So, coincidentally, the restaurant that I ended up at recently addressed all these concerns.

FryPan had been on my mind since it opened up back in March. It’s a predominantly desi place, and there’s not much you can do with local food, but the reason I wanted to try it out was that they were serving ‘fusion qatlama’. And the pictures piqued my interest further.

Located in the back lanes of DD block in DHA facing a residential area, FryPan is a small eatery, with a congested ground floor that leads to the dining area upstairs. Upon entering, you encounter the live kitchen and on your way upstairs notice three frying pans hanging on the wall. Along with a friend, I went at lunch time and found the small dining area brightened up with sunlight flowing in through the glass window at the front.

The chili cheese bites were a pleasant start to the meal
The chili cheese bites were a pleasant start to the meal

Settling down, I knew I wanted the ‘qatlama’, at least. But we started off with the Chilli Cheese Bites that sounded tempting. These cubes of cottage cheese, crispy on the outside, soft inside and glazed with an in-house hot, spicy sauce mixed with slices of capsicum, onion and tomatoes were, obviously hot, but a delectable, light appetiser. A pleasant start to a meal.

The qatlamas are their specialty
The qatlamas are their specialty

Next, we ordered their specialty: the Mexican and Moroccan qatlamas. These eight-inch ‘pies’ are served in a frying pan and each is meant for two people. FryPan’s own take on the desi delicacy, these are nothing like the large, thin, pancake-like, oil-laden qatlamas you may have had outside shrines or at melas. This is an inspired dish, one that’s fresh, filling and delicious; two crispy layers, stuffed, and topped with traditional herbs and spices.

Look at the cheese in that Mexican qatlama
Look at the cheese in that Mexican qatlama

The Mexican qatlama is generously filled with grilled chicken, red sauce, capsicum, onion, tomatoes and olives. And if you have cheese added to it, it oozes out as you bite into it. The Moroccan qatlama is also filled with grilled chicken but mixed with a mildly spicy sauce and herbs. Both were served with tamarind sauce.

You may order the qatlamas expecting something on the lines of the traditional treat, and these may not be close to them, but what you get does tick all the right boxes: the filling is cooked well with the right amount of spice and sauce where needed, they’re fresh, crispy outside and appetising. And not a bad deal for Rs500. Full points to FryPan for introducing something unique.

Creamy chicken curry
Creamy chicken curry

We also tried two of their gravies: Butter Chicken comprised tender, boneless chunks of chicken cooked in smooth creamy, buttery gravy served with soft, fresh naan. The sweet and sour tinge from butter and cream made this one a mouth-watering treat.

Their handi is another popular dish like the hari mirch
Their handi is another popular dish like the hari mirch

The other gravy we ordered was Chicken Hari Mirch. This thick green curry with boneless chicken pieces cooked in green chillies and herbs had a distinct chilli taste, yet the amount of spice was appropriate and not overpowering. Something worth spending on, and not bad for Rs700 and Rs650 for both the gravies, respectively.

Light and crispy coconut naan
Light and crispy coconut naan

To cap the meal, we had their coconut and gurr (jaggery) naans, and I have to say they were scrumptious. The Coconut Naan was super light, thin, soft, filled with the right amount of grated coconut and thankfully not an overdose of sugar. Similarly, the Gurr Wala Naan was soft, thin and topped with a layer of light jaggery syrup. I expected it to be uncomfortably sweet, but, fortunately, this too was appropriately sweet and not overwhelming. Quite satisfactory desserts for someone with a massive sweet tooth as me.

FryPan has awesome drinks like this strawberry shake
FryPan has awesome drinks like this strawberry shake

Some other items on the menu included burgers, which frankly I wasn’t drawn towards sitting in a local restaurant, as well as biryani, papri chaat, kulfi and a wide range of drinks – mocktails, shakes, smoothies. If they manage to maintain quality and consistency, they have some delicious food to offer.

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