Majeed Huts is a roadside university restaurant (dhaba) in Islamabad, Pakistan, that serves a meal that just may have you dreaming about going back to school.
From chicken malai, to the outstanding kebab fry, there’s even a dish known as the ‘Crisis’ omelet (more about this gem of a dish below), get ready for an Islamabad feast.
You’ll find all the details about Majeed Huts in this article.
University Lunch Food Goes Viral
Graduating from University in 2008, it’s been over a decade since the last time I thought about enrolment. Years that is, until eating for the first time at Majeed Huts Restaurant in Islamabad.
Directly opposite the Quaid-I-Azam Islamabad University’s campus, this dhaba restaurant has an amazing vibe, and a long-standing history.
You have to wonder how many young people are choosing to study here strictly because of Majeed’s lunch menu.
Note: A quick thanks to RoadsandKingdoms, their article led me to Majeed Huts in the first place.
Enroll Here for the Food
“Wow – you have people from the city showing up early to get tables at a University Dhaba?”
The low-hanging awnings and tight cooking space simply cannot contain the deliciousness that come out of this baby blue clay-brick kitchen.
What was once just an ordinary campus lunch-food stall serving students has now graduated – it should almost be an institution for itself.
Pushing through the just-beginning lunch rush, I was curiously noting seeing people of all ages in line. I was by no means the only non-student customer here fighting for a place to order.
Hotel in Islamabad – During my visit to Islamabad I was hosted by Islamabad Serena Hotel, and had an amazing stay.
Peaceful Lunch Stalls on Fire with Flavor
The restaurant itself is really very quiet and peaceful. The way this restaurant sits back from the University entrance road, you may feel like you’re visiting a small garden cafe.
If you’re like me, you’ll find it very hard to look at a menu while seeing row after row of other people’s dishes all sitting there in front of you.
You can order by pointing, or you can pick from the menu.
Note: Giving the order directly to a chef is fine, but when the lunch rush finally comes they might go 10 minutes without even looking up.
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That’s enough about the scenery, let’s get to these dishes. Here’s what you should be ordering.
No lunch in Pakistan, maybe any meal at all, should go without at least one plate of dal.
Pakistan’s chefs are masters when it comes to using lentils, and the dal fry at Majeed Huts is no joke.
You will be licking fingers after the very first bite as the smoky sensations from the caramelised onions that match roasted masala spices perfectly.
I love the blend of spice they use, and you can see the fried dry chilies and entire cumin seeds resting in the desi ghee on top of every plate.
Rajma (kidney beans)
Another hearty and local comfort food they serve here is rajma.
Red Kidney beans in a simple, thick-with-butter sauce, this curry is spectacular, and really nutritious as well. The beans themselves thicken the broth as they fry in desi ghee, and the addition of a healthy spoonful of spicy green chilies lights it up perfectly – a necessity for any lunchtime order.
This is the first dish I saw on Majeed’s serving table, and actually it reminds me very much of one of my favorite foods from Kenya.
Kheema (mince meat)
Kheema just refers to the mincing of meat, but this dish is common with beef or mutton. This is a recipe including a stunning amount of spices, and is so flavorful that you really can enjoy just a small plate on its own.
Typically eaten with rice or a hot stack of bread like nan or tandoori roti, kheema is a popular dish serving everyone from street-side stalls to expensive posh restaurants.
The kheema at Majeed Huts was made with chicken, lightly tomatoey, oily as it should be, and with a harmony of spices to hold it all together. There were also peas included in the mix.
Now we come to the award-winning items, Heavyweight orders on the Majeed Huts’ daily menu. Two of the dishes here are almost beyond belief, the first one is kebab fry.
In my mind, kebab is already a World Ultimate Food on its own – if you’re like me, rejoice in knowing it can also be a curry!
A bed of red tomato sauce fry first in desi ghee along with chilies, garlic, onions, and a small mountain of dry spices. Cooking separately on a skewer are chunks of beef or lamb, each having their own dry spice I assume before being grilled.
When the tomatoes cook down to nothing but a thick sauce consistency, the kebabs go into the pan. The chef then perfects this winning combination with a final anointing of even more desi ghee.
A visit to Majeed’s wouldn’t be complete without at least one kebab fry (we could only manage 2 plates of it before they ran out of kebab meat for the day). It has that beautiful combination of smokey crumbly minced meat, with tangy tomato sauce, and light spices. It’s quite similar to İskender kebap in Istanbul.
Well-known already among students, this is a dish that has been long in the making. Let me give you a quick version from the owner’s own story.
The Back Story
Majeed Huts is open for lunch, and they sell out and close-down by 4 pm daily.
A final group of students show up after class right after 4 pm, but the restaurant has already served hundreds of customers during the day – only the barest of scrapings are left to tease the hungry students.
I think everyone can relate to this emergency – in such crises, it can only be eggs that serve the purpose (same can be said about a Thai omelet), always a great solution to late-night hunger situations.
A small spoon of each item that’s left, whatever curry or even soup it may be, is all stir fried up, then placed into the center of a slight overly oily (intentional) omelet. And the new dish is born – a ‘Crisis’ omelet.
In my mind this hilarious and delicious creation may even rival the ‘world’s best omelet,’ from Loong Riang and Pa Malee. It deserves to be famous too, such a delicious and hearty blend of chick peas, corn, kidney beans, peas, and potatoes, all spiced with the skill of Majeed Huts is genius.
Over time, the situation has even reversed, and the restaurant might even run out of Crisis omelets before other menu items, so order fast! The crisis omelet is a dish that unites students from all walks of life.
A final dish from the frying pan you simply have to try is their chicken laziza.
Surprisingly spicy, this was easily one of the better dishes for the value that you pay. If you come alone, I think this would be a perfect combo alongside THE omelet, and maybe an order of lady fingers.
Large chunks of chicken breast and peppery masala spices successfully combine to make this one of the most-known dishes from this entire part of the world. It was rich and creamy, and packed full of flavor.
Majeed’s Makes Breaking News
Majeed Huts is a great place to come for a long lunch of course, but its also a place of real controversy.
Not only have social groups been forming here for decades, holding meetings over the well-oiled tables behind the kitchen, there are even real problems arguing over solutions to the case of food this good being served during a time when students should be in class.
So many students skip their morning lectures just to make sure to get their order in first, the Professors are finding such delicious menu items at Majeed Huts a point of real controversy.
Should they restrict the restaurant opening hours? Or should they join the students themselves?
Well ok, maybe that’s just what I would have done if I was still a student… but I am sure it must have been the case on more than one occasion.
Generations of Lunch Time Gatherings
Talking with the owner, we also learned that for not just years, but for generations now, both students and professors alike visit Majeed’s at all hours of the day.
Starting since breakfast, then rushing at the mid-day breaks, chatting about philosophy, studies, and life, even sometimes holding lectures behind the restaurant, they stay every single day, right up until closing.
I know that I would have immediately loved any professor who chose to give us his lectures while we were elbow-to-elbow over a few ‘Crisis omelets’ and Kebab Fry.
This place is just magical, full of good energy, one where you can feel the happy history before, during, and after a meal.
Concluding Another Warm Welcome
Majeed Huts is a landmark restaurant of Islamabad, a place you do not want to miss.
While we were eating, the chef, and the manager also sat down with us for a quick chat. Hand-shakes, smiles, introductions, and then an “Ok, great to have you here. Enjoy the food.”
I love these little things that were happening every day for the entire visit to Pakistan, the welcome you will get here is truly incredible.
Watch the full video now:
(Or watch it on YouTube here)
Address: Shabeer Huts – University Road, Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory, Pakistan (google map)
Open hours: 11am to 4pm
Prices: Our entire bill for this meal came to 1900PKR (US$14.80)