I have no idea how it’s taken me so long to get a review of this place up given how often I eat here. Actually… that’s a lie. We hardly ever eat here because Zaafran, bless their wonderful souls, deliver! So while I probably eat their food once every few weeks, I prefer to summon it from afar to appear on my doorstep. But since I love the place so much, I wanted to actually add it to the website and have something to photograph besides takeaway containers on my livingroom table. So, here I sit, having a lonely lunch at Zaafran with a mountain of food staring back at me and not a single other person in the place.
Given that they deliver, Zaafran seems to have become my hangover food of choice. Normally it’s a brilliant idea but be careful not to go too spicy or you’ll be left hungry and in pain. I like spice but I find their medium to be a lot to handle. These days I ask for somewhere between mild and medium and am given a bit of a spicy kick while still being able to eat the food without crying. The perfect combo. ts not good when your food makes you cry.
My housemates and I tend to stick to the same order each time, mostly because we always forget to ask for a menu and just have to guess to see what’s on there. So we stick with the regulars: butter chicken, chicken tikka masala (Rwf 5,100), palak paneer (paneer in a spinach sauce – Rwf 4,100), subzi taka tin (veggie balls – Rwf 3,800) and mixed raita (Rwf 1,200). We’ve branched out occasionally to dhal (success!) and to mutton rogan josh (not as tasty). We’ve tried a few of the mutton dishes and we’re not fans, but we’re pretty much in love with everything else.
I think Zaafran is the best Indian restaurant in Kigali. The veggie balls are suitably saucy (as opposed to Khana’s dry balls… er), the chicken is tender (although the chicken pieces could be chopped smaller, we think), the sauces are thick, the nan bread is just the right combo of light and fluffy and greasy and good, and the servings sizes are big. The order of veggie balls that I’m working my way through now seems larger than what we normally have delivered, so I’m not sure if servings are bigger at the restaurant, or what. As a starter, the Tomatar Ka Shorba (a sort of spicy tomato soup) is delicious.
The atmosphere here is slightly quirky with Rwandan servers walking around in what I guess to be some sort of Indian garb. There’s a little garden area with a few plants and statues but Zaafran is missing out on something that many restaurants in Kigali can boast: a great view. Here, you’re sort of on a lower level surrounded by brick walls painted various colours. You still have open air dining, but there’s nothing really to look at except the other diners and orange bricks.
Food here comes pretty quickly but the servers seems a little timid at times, rarely checking up on you and sort of hanging around in the background. As with most Kigali restaurants, it can be difficult to get their attention at times, even when it’s not busy. But they’re friendly and it’s hard not to love a Rwandan in an Indian outfit.
Prices here are about in line with those at other Indian restaurants in town. Wine here is cheap at Rwf 2,000 a glass and a small Mutzig costs 900. Prices don’t include VAT which can lead to a slight shock once you get the final bill. It’s not the cheapest place to eat but the servings are large and you get the usual cucumber, tomato, carrot and sauces nibbles while you wait. My lunch of veggie balls, raita, a small water and a butter naan came to Rwf 8,000 including tax but I had plenty of leftovers to take home or I could have easily shared it with another person and we’d both have been stuffed.
If you want to experience Zaafran from the comfort of your home or office, their delivery number is: 0783 042 504. They seem to deliver in the rain, even though they make the trip on motorbikes. Delivery is free to my house (which is the equivalent of an Rwf 400 moto ride away) but I’m not sure how far they’ll go without charging. If you want to order a drink, make sure you have an empty bottle to give them in return and beware that sometimes things get smashed up en route. I’ve had a few mashed up deliveries with raita and sauces all over the place… but it’s worth the risk!
Hours: Daily, Noon – 10:30pm
Phone: 0783 042 504
More Info: Zaaffran on Eating in Kigali