Laaphing – The Fiery Cold Tibetan Mystery : By Anuradha Gupta

As you walk inside the little Tibet in Delhi (Majnu ka Tila) you can’t help but notice these small tables where a lady/man is very meticulously almost in a Zen like state making some dish and people around are sitting in a equally calm state relishing it! 

As you move closer you see very neatly stacked yellow pancakes, some jugs with different colored liquid and orderly lined different salts. Everything is methodically arranged. You wonder is it Vegetarian, Noodles, Soup, Savory?

Laahing – Soupy version with gluten/soya granules

Meet Laaphing (Due to different accents, it can be spelled as Laphin, Lapin, Laping etc) – a super mysterious Tibetan street food you will find in our very own little Tibet (Majnu ka Tila) This dish is as much a mystery as this market is – very few people know about this insanely flavorful yet so simple dish, leave alone how many of them know what it is made of.

This is how their counter looks like
Residents of Majnu ka Tila savoring their share of Laaphin
They cut slices from this slab of starch
Soya Granules or Gluten. Not sure.
This is a cold starter/soup with slimy jelly like texture with burst of flavours. As you look at it in wonder what is this wobbly, squishy thing made of! 

Liang Fen as it is called in Sichuan Cuisine, it of two kinds: yellow and white. 

By the looks of it the the yellow laaphing is nothing but pancakes of starch, rolled with some gluten/soya, granulated salt, roasted chili paste, seasame oil, garlic paste and pinch of MSG in it and then chopped. But as they say looks can be deceiving, the exceptional amalgamation of such distinct flavors and the texture is simply mind blowing. It can be made using Potato, Mung Bean, Rice or Corn starch. 

That granulated salt, smokiness of red chili, the nuttiness of the sesame oil and the kick of garlic is nothing but an intoxicating blend of flavors. It is unlike anything in this world. And yes, while they are rolling the Laaphing {now I know why I love it so much – it is rolled ;)} but wonder is it the distant cousin of Gujju Khandvi.

Another version of Laaphing
You can have the soupy version of this, wherein they add some soy sauce, garlic water, rice vinegar and some more chili paste and trust me despite being cold noodle soup it warms up your soul and be careful with spice level, it can even make you sweat in this freezing cold. HELP The fairer version of laaphing seems to be made of the corn starch. Thick slippery slabs which resemble scallops topped with same spices minus the gluten. The white Laaphing is little more soft and melt in our mouth kinds.
Ready for take-away
Dry version of Laaphing
As you roam in the Tibetan market, you will find lots of people selling Laaphing but I love the guy who has a small shop opposite to the Rigo Restaurant. You can sit on small stools inside the shop, soak in the calm vibe and not help but get enchanted with reverberating Tibetan music! 

By the way this scrumptious and very exotic dish costs just Rs. 25. 

It cannot get more exciting than this, in a nondescript part of bustling Delhi – you can be transported to the super exotic, calm and very charming mini Tibet, MKT and get high on this International Sadakchaap glimmering beauty! 

Wriiten by Anuradha Gupta

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Move over ‘Food-Truck’ – We have our own Food Cycles – Chhole Bhature in North Campus

Hudson Lines is a road dotted with numerous cafes – some of them Uber cool, some quirky and some plain commercial, all of whom along with chains and regular desi outlets are vying for the attention of the throbbing student populace living and studying in North Campus of Delhi University.
Chhole Bhature – The way they are served.
Amidst all the madness, there is this quiet cycle waala, standing outside the NDPL office and selling his wares. One look at him and my good food radar started beeping, and it beeped quite hard this time. Realized that this guy was selling Chhole Bhature, yup, good old chhole bhature in the land of mighty Chacha, Om, Rawalpindi and the likes. And surprisingly he had a crowd around him, a crowd which ensured that he was out of bhaturas at the time I reached and he was only able to offer me kulchas.
A look inside the Chhole Vessel
Drooling by the smell and sight I had to settled for the much humbler kulcha as I really wanted an insight into the Chhola that he was serving – because by the color, texture and smell – they seemed nothing less than amazing. And thankfully my feeling did not change once I started eating them – loaded with spices, however not going overboard, hot but just hot enough – these chholas instantly made me compare them to some of the best in the industry and for me it was a big deal for a guy selling from a bicycle. But then, I was still craving for them bhaturas.
Summer of 2014 was spent playing hide & seek with our guy, either I was there too early, or too late or on a day when he was not there. But advent of winters brought some luck for yours truly and he was able to grab those bhaturas couple of days back. Now let me warn you – these are not fresh made bhaturas which are fried on the spot, as we have come to know them, these are not soft, nor fluffy. These bhaturas are pre-made and are very thin. Before serving they are heated on a coal fired angeethi and served. It is a different school of bhaturas, the easiest examples I can sight are Sita Ram Dewan Chand from Paharganj and legendary Gole Hatti in Chandni Chowk as well as Patel Nagar.
Anyhow I eagerly got my plate served, for which I had to wait for 10-15 minutes as the guy takes his own sweet time serving and for Rs.20 a plate, this ended up being one of best Bhatura experiences I have ever had. The character that Coal fired angheeti adds to those bhaturas is something that is hard to explain.
Bhaturas being heated on coal fired Angeethi
And this the way these Bhaturas turn up, love that texture.
On Chhole he puts those beautifully spiced ginger julienne along with a chutney that is made sour from actual tamarind. In another dona he would give you some chopped onions, a piece of spiced potato and a pickled green chilly which goes so very well with the entire meal.
Chhole – ready to be served – notice the Ginger juliens and the Green Chutney with Tamarind.


what you get on the side – Potato, Green Chilli, Onions etc..
I would not recommend this place to everyone, however if you are someone who likes to eat bhaturas everywhere and can cherish the differences and contrasts without comparing it with the ‘Best’ you have ever had, then you MUST try this place out, you will not regret it for sure.
Entire show being manages from a simple Bicycle.

PS : And regarding the title – we are a country full of small time food vendors, on carts, cycles, foot or street – as romantic as the Food Truck sounds, lets not forget what we already have. Lets appreciate it, cherish it and like in this case savor it too.. 🙂

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Pehelwan ka Dhaba, Majlis Park – A Quintessential Dhaba experience

Even though Delhi is a city of Dhabas, however there aren’t many that come to my mind when I set my mind out in search of a good old school Dhaba. There can be a thousand reasons for the same however lets leave that for some other time. Why did I start this post with those lines? Just to show how desperate me other food lovers like me are for decent Dhaba food in Delhi. And when Pehelwan started to find mention on Eatlo, it did manage to excite the mind and taste-buds of food lovers all over the city, specially our vegetarian brethren. 
Food Lovers from all over Delhi / NCR
A visit to them, an Eatlo Eatup as it is called was on cards for long time and thankfully we managed to pull one of this week. Around 20-25 of food lovers from all over Delhi and NCR descended in the bylanes of Outer Delhi (OK, North Delhi if you insist) to find this Pehelwan and his Dhaba. And yours truly was one of them mongers of good food.

Shahi Paneer
Being served
Chana Masala

The place was not as difficult to find as it seemed, I mean what place these days is not on google maps? This one is not. If you search for its name, you will land up its name sake dhabas all over the place, however not this one. To locate this Dhaba the simplest GPS coordinate : Reach Adarsh Nagar Metro Station, ask any rickshaw puller for directions. Simple? 😛

Its a large hall kind of a structure with huge Pateelas, tandoor and other kitchen in general taking the front part and then there around 8-10 tables for mortals like us to sit and dine on. Nothing fancy, but the modern standards not even basic, but still functional setup. That said, classical Dhaba in every sense of the word.

Dal Makhani
Paneer Naan

Now other food lovers had been recommending their boiled dal (I am assuming yellow) however we were also told that they run out of it very early in the evenings. A day before out scheduled visit we also called and request them for the dal to saved for dinner time, however on the d-day the owner simple said that dal is not to be kept side but to be sold. I was like Yes Boss. Talking more about the owner, he seems to be a character in himself, however lets not talk about him and when you go their for eating business, I am sure your interaction to him would only be limited to paying the bill. 

Coming to food, taking the liberty of numbers we decided to test out everything on the menu, let me list down what we had and what I thought about it.
  • Shahi Paneer – Avoid. 
  • Malai Kofta – Same gravy as Shahi Paneer. Avoid.
  • Dal Makhani – ummm, some of us loved it, for me it was 3/5 kind of affair. 
  • Aloo Kofta – I thought it would be a kofta made of aloo, however it was a kofta and aloo in the same curry. It was fun to mash the kofta in the gravy and then eating it. Enjoyed eating it.
  • Mutter Paneer – Fried Paneer Dunked in tomato based gravy which has peas in it. Indifferent.
  • Aloo Gobhi – Very simple, bit on the wet side, had the punch of spices. 
  • Chana Masala – Enjoyed eating them a lot. Very basic and simple, very homelike but with a stronger kick. Loved them.
  • Palak Paneer – Just the way I like it. On the darker side not loaded with Cream and Butter, for me highlight of the place and most of my compatriots did agree with me. 
  • Boondi Raita – Not too thick, not too thin, Very chilled, very refreshing. Ate 2-3 of them. 
  • Kheer – Very basic, nothing fancy. I enjoyed it for its simplicity, for some it might be a waste of money. 
Palak Paneer 
Aloo Kofta

We tried a variety of breads, generally speaking on special orders they do make your roti crispy however given the pressure we put on the kitchen they did falter badly. That said, I enjoyed eating the Lachha Paranthas, plus their stuffed naans and paranthas also had simplicity around it which did manage to entice me. 

On the day we were their the service faltered badly, they have no idea on what was happening, probably not used to catering to so many gluttonous eaters at the same time, however with experience I have a feeling that they would be able to handle a lesser crowd very well. 
The nearest comparison that comes to my mind are the Dhabas of CP – Kake Bhape, National and the likes, in style of serving, attitude of owner and general ambiance. Nothing exceptional about the place, however if a simple kadak roti and palak paneer to chana is on your mind, do visit this place. You will not regret it. And yeah, I am going back, atleast to try that famed boiled dal.

PS : They use Nutralite Margarine instead of Butter.