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Korma, Kheer and Kismet: Five Seasons In Old Delhi is a record of the food experiences offered in the streets of Old Delhi. Pamela Timms came down all the way from Scotland to enjoy the tastes and flavors of Indian food, which she found it in the street food stalls.

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Pamela Timms decided to get away from the dampness of Scotland and enjoy the sun and heat in India. She came to Delhi and her mission was not just to enjoy the tropical climate but also to discover the heady flavours of Indian foods.

Initially, Pamela Timms found it difficult to sample the genuine taste of Indian food. She then decided that Old Delhi was probably the best place to find it. She began exploring the side streets and by lanes of Old Delhi and discovered the wonderful street food stalls, offering a mind boggling variety of foods.

She soon discovered the taste of korma, kheer and jalebis and began exploring even deeper into the heart of the old city. She made friends and was invited into the homes of the people who prepared the delicious foods sold in the food stalls.

Celebrating festivals with them and enjoying the delicious sweets and spicy foods, she soon began collecting recipes for many of the wonderful dishes sold in the streets. She is now a part of the community whose food traditions she set out to discover.

Rupa Publications has published this hardcover edition of Korma, Kheer and Kismet: Five Seasons In Old Delhi. This is the first edition.

Key Features:

  • This book is a delightful record of the year the author spent discovering the culinary delights offered by Old Delhi.
  • It contains tempting description of the delightful fare offered and directions to the best eateries in which to enjoy them.
  • Each chapter in the book also contains detailed recipes for the delicious dishes that she discovered, enjoyed and then learnt to cook.

What readers are saying..

Lovely. I have gifted this book to umber pus friends who have all loved it and followed in its footsteps, every delicious step. Can’t wait to return to delhi and follow the trail.

I purchased this book with some misgivings, to be very frank. Here is yet another “firang” giving her two bits worth about Indian food, I thought dismissively. So, i first downloaded a sample, and on Christmas Day, while my wife was busy preparing a lunch of Mutton Rogan Josh for me, I started on the sample. Beforte lunch was served, I had purchased the book, and was well into the intricacies of Ashok and Ashok’s Muton Korma recipe ! Pamela writes with a sure touch about the a subject she obviously loves to a fault – good food. Her writing is witty and sincere, and she brings a Westerner’s eye for detail into her recipes. And her descriptions of the bylanes of Old Delhi are charming and so evocative, that you can actually feel you are there with her as she dashes off on a cold winter dawn in search of the elusive Daulat ki Chaat, or understanding the mysteries behind Bade Mian’s creamy Kheer, or the simple delights of a coal roasted shakharkandi. Her accounts of life around the dusty alleys of Jama Masjid, or the cubby holes in and around Chandni Chowk, reveal a gourmand’s true love for food belonging to a bye gone era. The book is a must read for lovers of Delhi street food at its best.

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Where to eat Daulat ki Chaat in Delhi?

Was chatting with a friend of mine (who works as a corporate Chef and handles few of the major restaurants in Delhi)  yesterday afternoon and realized that both of us were hungry but not for the run of the mill stuff. He is someone who has spent lot of time working overseas and in Delhi as well most of the food he does is ‘international’. A jaunt to Old Delhi is what doctor seemed to have ordered for him and yesterday we both grasped at the opportunity and after parking our rides at Patel Chowk Metro Station and we hopped in a train straight to Chawri Bazaar.
Daulat ki Chaat from Gali Arya Samaaj
Got out from exit no. 3 of Chawri Metro Station and headed straight into Sita Ram Bazaar, deciding to ignore temptations offered in Chawri Bazaar starting from Ashok Chaat right at the corner to Shakahari, Standard, Shyam, Kulle Chaat & Jain Sandwich to the road leading straight to Jama Masjid and the numerous meaty goodies on offer in Matia Maharl and Urdu Bazaar area. And let me not even mention the Lal Kuan, Balli Maran, Khari Baoli and Chandni Chowk waiting for us on the other side. We ignored them all. 
We were men on mission, and the mission was simple – Daulat Ki Chaat. Daulat ki Chaat is a dessert which as per my understanding is basically milk froth – making it very light in weight and texture, something they say is made from dew and beating the milk with hand all night long. It is served with some crushed Khoya, which I would call Indian Cheese in absence of a better explanation, some finely crushed dry fruits and maybe some saffron water/syrup. 
Its a very fine dish available mostly in colder months in Delhi and available ONLY in Old Delhi. As Delhi moves into winter months, you can see the walled city dotted with numerous carts & hawkers selling Daulat Ki Chaat and everyone claims to be the best, accepting orders for weddings and other parties – complete with a visiting card offered to every inquisitive customer. Outsiders and/or novice food lovers get excited at the mere sight of them carts and find hard to control the temptation of trying them. Honestly speaking cannot just blame them, even the half good stuff commonly sold in Old Delhi (any part including Chandni Chowk) is good enough to make even hardcore foodies feel happy.
But then, I do not consider myself an outsider and my friend is not a novice foodie for sure.. 😉
Most of the Daulat ki Chaat sold on those carts parked in touristy, crowded or popular areas of Old Delhi sell adulterated stuff, or so I have been told by my cousins and family residing in that part of town. But then we are not the ones to believe in words and to be sure that we have a fare comparison we started by eating from a cart right on the Hauz Khazi chowk and actually enjoyed the stuff that he was selling. For bulk orders he quoted Rs.4000 for 12 kgs of Chaat, plus the transportation. 
Daulat ki Chaat we had on Hauz Qazi Chowk
Post that we decided to skip everything else and walk straight towards Gali Arya Samaj, a bylane of Sita Ram Bazaar. Its a unmarked street on your right hand side, right after Lal Darwaza, which is on your left hand side. You walk into the Gali Arya Samaj and as the street starts to narrow down, on your left hand side would will find a small stall selling Daulat ki Chaat and some kulfis/icecream. 
We ordered a plate each from this guy as well, and my chef friend straightaway started telling me that its more Pure, dense, flavorful, creamy and frothy. And as soon as he uttered those words my heart took a leap of joy, feeling vindicated & validated. The shopkeeper told me that they still have to make it with hand and have no other option, and quoted us Rs. 600 a kg plus transportation for bulk and party orders. 
There is no name of this shop, but I believe I have mentioned several points in the blog, points which are sufficient to send you on a treasure hunt, a hunt for the BEST Daulat ki Chaat, which of-course is nothing less than a treasure. 
Started this post to share the entire adventure we had yesterday which saw us gorging on some awesome Kachoris & Samosas as well, while finishing the gluttony with a rockstar Nahari and Kebabs, but I guess will limit this post to Daulat ki Chaat and save other details for another post.  
Would love to hear some feedback from those who actually are able to find and try this much elusive delicacy. Do share your story in the comments below. 
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Food Enthusiasts of Delhi & Shashank Aggarwal own the copyrights of all pictures and content. To use pictures OR content in any way commercially OR non-commercially connect with shashank@foodenthusiastsofdelhi.com.

Halwa-Nagori-Subzi – An Old Delhi Speciality

When I was a kid, we used to often hear about Nagori Halwa, infact my mom and nani used to make them at home too. But then modern life took its toll and such food got label of un-healthy and the fact that it was tough and time consuming dish to make for breakfast, ensured that it has not been made in my home for decades now. Besides that its a dish that is not available round the corner, which means its something you really have to make a trek to a certain part of Delhi to savor it, that too early in the morning. And I am sure not many would be surprised that its only available in lanes on Walled City, OId Delhi or our very own Purani Dilli, whatever name you prefer to call DIlli-6 by.. 😉

To start of, what is Halwa Nagori? I am sure we all understand Halwa. Its suji (semolina) roatsed in Ghee with loads of sugar. Every Indian in any part of world would know about this one. Coming to Nagori, well to simplify the matters, lets call it a cross between a Suji ka Golgappa and a maide ki poori.

Halwa Nagori at Mahalakshmi Mishthaan Bhandar, Chandni Chowk

Confused? Well, its a bit larger than the Gol Gappa / Pani Puri, however is smaller than the puri as we know it. I guess it is made of Suji and Maida mixed with ghee, deep fried and is crispy, but not as crispy as a Gol gappa, but much crispier than your normal poori. Now you get it why I call it a cross?? 😛


Anyhow, keeping my limited writing skills in mind, I will end the description here and would hope that you would go savor the delicacy yourself and find your own explaination. Nagori is served with some Halwa and Subzi. Subzi can be a mix of Aloo and Chhole, in any proportion.

In Old Delhi I have tried this has 3-4 places – Shyam Sweets on Barshabulla Chowk, Shiv Mishthan Bhandaar in Chandni Chowk, A random street vendor in bylanes and the one I have loved the most : Mahalakshmi Mishtaan Bhandar near Fatefpuri Masjid in Chandni Chowk. That said it can be found at various small outlets all across the walled city, saw a few at Lal Kuan as well.
Halwa Nagori at Shyam Seets, Barshabulla Chowk, Chawri Bazaaar
Today was my third visit to Mahalakshi Mishthaan, today I managed to reach at 6:50 am and thus got my fill of those gorgeous Nagoris and an awesome bedmi too. However on one visit I got there at 8:45 am, they were out of stock already and then next time I was there at 8:00 am, and at that time managed to get hold of couple of pieces only. They start making it by 6:30 am, and I would really call it a redline beyond 8am. Though people have found them till 9 am as well.. 😛

Mahalakshmi makes the Desi Ghee version of it, you get 5 Nagoris, a bit of Halwa and some Subzi in Rs.40 and I feel that this would be the most expensive version too. The first bite early in the morning and it feels that some lubrication has been added to your parched and rusty soul, you can feel the desi ghee doing its magic and taking your sins away. Afterall it is not considered like amrit or Elixir in Ayurveda for nothing. The Halwa’s portion is too little for me, however you can always pay extra and get more Halwa for yourself.  
One of the random stalls selling Nagori amongst other goodies in Dariba Kalan
Besides that I have also enjoyed eating them at Shiv Mishthaan Bhandaar and couple of other hawkers on the street. The ones that I have had Shyam Sweets were too dry for me and just did not work for me. Though I like is Bedmi and Kachori a lot.

I have seen them being sold at few other places too, however I am sure there are lot of versions being sold which are made in vanaspati or vegetable ghee.

You can google for Mahalakshmi / Shiv / Shyam for exact addresses.

PS : Not sure about its origin, however it seems to be very Delhi delicacy and primarily a Baniya food item.


Updated – 16/03/2016 – here is another one I found at Ram Swarup Halwai in Sita Ram Bazaar, its worth taking a note. 

FoodWalk in Chandni Chowk – Photolog

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We have been to Chandni Chowk for FED FoodWalks on several occasions, however this time we decided to go touristy and check out the most usual suspects. Being a Sunday we did miss out on couple of hot joints, however it was a pleasure to be walking on relatively empty and calm streets.

As I got down from the metro station, I got a call from Honey, my cousin from walled city, telling me to ensure that we check out Dogra ke Ram Ladoo. It took us some time to find him, however this small outlet located outside Gandhi Maidan parking was definitely worth it.  Lookout for it near Fawara Chowk, where all the Phatphat sewa jeeps are parked. 
Ram Ladoos with grated mooli, purple carrots (from a Kanji) and two types of Chutney
Fresh Ram Ladoos being fried
Bread Pakoras ready to be served

Besides the regular fare which was super awesome couple of things really stood out. All of us know about the Kaanji that our moms make. Dogra serve purple carrots with his Ladoos and Pakodas, which have been ‘pickled’ in Kaanji. He made us sample some of his Kaanji too, which was delicious to say the least. And then there was Karele ka Pakoda. Yup, you read it right. A bitter gourd, stuffed with spices, dipped in the batter of moong daal and fried like a pakoda. You might not be a fan of Karela, however this is something you should try atleast onces. Bizzare Food it is.
Pakoda made out of Karela
The Inside View

After Dogra we headed towards Ghantewala, however to our disappointment they are closed on Sundays. What we did next was something I did not imagine myself doing. I entered Gali Paranthe Wali. I would not go into the reasons why I am not a big fan of Gali Paranthe Wali but I have never really enjoyed the food they serve there. As far as my knowledge goes, all Parantha Shops downed shutters but for Pandit Dayanand Shiv Charan. All the shops that are currently operating after the revival of the gali are not from the original era but are said to be of the same family. We dined at Pandit Dayanand Shiv Charan’s shop and as I was there with no expectations I was not disappointed. I quite enjoyed the chutneys they served. Being a lover of Paneer I also liked the Paneer Roll that they serve, though it does taste like paneer pakoda. Going there was not really unfruitful, because there on a cart I found some of the freshest and best Nan Khatais that I have ever had. Post Paranthas we sampled some Khurchan and Kalakand from the shop opposite Pandit Dayanand Shiv Charan’s shop, which was quite average.
Nan Khatais being baked right on the cart.
Fresh and Hot Nan Khatais
Different fillings or stuffing for Paranthas in Paranthewali Gali
A Thali with Green Chutney, Sweet banana Chutney, Pumpkin Subzi, Potato Subzi, Pickle etc
Mewa (Dry Fruit) Parantha
Khurchan
Kalakand

I have never been a fan of Natraj ke Dhai Bhalle, however since we were doing ‘touristy’ things, I thought of giving them another try. And I can still pass them.

Natraj ke Dhai Bhalle

Next came Ved Prakash ji ka lemon Soda and then Lassi from Amritsari Corner at Fatehpuri Masjid Chowk. Unfortunately we were not able to have the Puri Chhole at Meghraj as being a Sunday he finished off at 12 o clock itself, while on weekdays he serves till 2 pm. On being suggested that he should make extra provisions for Sunday, I was told that they make 3 times extra provision, but still run out of it before time. Result of the said conversation is that I cannot wait to get back to Meghraj for an exclusive Chhole Puri Breakfast session.

Thickness of Lassi is demonstrated by spoon which is not going in and is actually resting on Lassi

Chaina Ram is a name for which I have tremendous respect for. Sweets from Bikanerwaala and Haldiram’s have now started to feel industrial, however a bite into Chaina Ram’s sweets and you can feel the art that went into it. We tried three different types of Karachi Halwa there, Cham Cham and couple of other delicacies.

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Karachi Halwa
Karachi Halwa
Karachi Halwa
Three different types of Karachi Halwa
Cham Cham and other sweets at Chaina Ram

Being a fan of Gole Hatti in Patel Nagar, I have always wanted to try the one near Fateh Puri Masjid in Chandni Chowk, but again as luck would have it, being a Sunday they were closed. Though Kake Di Hatti was not in my mind that day, however somehow we still landed there and as usual, they managed to impress us.

Boondi Raita, Dal Makhani and Chhole at Kake Di Hatti
Stuffed Naan at Kake Di Hatti

Various stuffing that into the Naans
An ‘average naan’ at Kake Di Hatti

And how can be a visit to Kake be complete without a stop at the neighboring Giani’s. Tried there Rose Shake, Pineapple Shake for the first time and can very well say that it was the last time as well. Though shakes are not Giani’s strong point, however they certainly do the BEST Rabri Faluda and Moong Dal Halwa in entire city of Delhi. Their Gajar ka Halwa is also not to be missed at any cost.

Rabri at Giani’s
Rabri Faluda waiting to be served
Gajar ka Halwa

One would think that after so much food, we would call it a day. Infact couple of members did call it a day. However rest of us got into rickshaws and embarked on a long ride to Kucha Pati Ram, Sita Ram Bazaar. Most of you would have guessed what was attracting us there, however instead of our usual Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfiwale we decided to try offerings from Duli Chand Naresh Gupta Kulfi Wala. Though they were pretty good, but I like Kuremal better and ended up there after sampling some treats from Duli Chand Naresh Gupta Kulfi Wala.

Riding through the busy lanes
Riding through the busy lanes
Anar (Pomegranate) Kulfi at Duli Chand Naresh Gupta
Orange stuffed with Rabri Kulfi at Duli Chand Naresh Gupta
One half of Orange stuffed with Kulfi at Duli Chand Naresh Gupta

Pan Kulfi at Duli Chand Naresh Gupta

The following pictures from Kuremal have been shot on my earlier visits to their outlet.

Jamun Kulfi at Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfiwale
Fruit Cream Kulfi at Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfiwale
Aam Panna Kulfi at Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfiwale
One Half of Stuffed Mango Kulfi at Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfiwale
Mango Stuffedwith Kulfi at Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfiwale

Post Kuremal, while walking back towards Chawri Bazaar metro station, couple of Chhole Kulchewalas caught attention in Sita Ram Bazaar. And being the ones who do not believe in holding back the temptations, we tried one of them, who turned out be quite okay, nothing great. And then being a Sunday, Veg Kathi Kebabs were being served in Chawri Bazaar with hot Rumali Rotis, how could have we resisted them.

Chhole Kulche at Sita Ram Bazaar
Veg Kathi Kebabs at Chawri Bazaar

Though we also wanted to go to Bade Mian and Standard Sweets (for Chai) however former was closed due to some reason and latter was closed for cleaning at that hour. It was sort of a food marathon, or rather a Hogathon that took place on that day, 4.5 hours of pure eating.  But as usual, cannot wait to embark on the next one.

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Food walk in Old Delhi – Exploring Sita Ram Bazaar

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My love for the walled city is quite known, as mentioned earlier, that place makes me feel like Alice in wonderland. Hence I always cook up excuses and look for opportunities to visit that part of the town. And what better time there is to walk those famed food lanes than in the month of December. The well settled winter chill coupled with possibly the best time to be out basking in the warm sun, we zeroed down on a perfect December afternoon.
Swooping on the heady combination available, a FED raid was called for and a bunch of Food Enthusiasts assembled at the Chawri Bazaar Metro station. This raid was dedicated to explore Sita Ram Bazaar, one of the lesser known lanes of the walled city; however it is also the lane that I end up visiting most often. My regular visits can be attributed to my Aunt, who lives there with her family.
What probably very few people know about the Old Delhi food trail is the fact that this particular part of the city, famed for its kebabs and biryanis, also houses lanes that are an absolute delight for a vegetarian. Chawri Bazaar and Sita Ram Bazaar, strongholds of the Hindu trading communities are areas that are traditionally pure vegetarian. As far as I know, even eggs are a very recent addition to the food scene there. This happens to be the area from where the famous Chat, Kachori, Samose, Bedmi, Nagori, Gol Gappe, Kulfi etc of walled city hale from.
The Sita Ram Bazaar food walk that day was quite an ad hoc for experience for me as well. I knew the lanes like the back of my hand but what I was not sure of was which vendors would be serving at that time of the day? Was Sunday the day I would find all that I had sampled previously? Would my regular guy be there or would we miss him by an hour or so? However there was one thing I was pretty sure of and that was the fact that we would not be disappointed. The happy smiles throughout ensure that I don’t need to emphasize of this point at all.

While waiting for other foodies at the metro station, the temptation to have Ram Laddoos of the hawker standing right next to gate number three was hard to resist. Though they were not extraordinary but totally succulent and with the right amount of salt and spices and worth the moolah and the long wait. However as I often say, even the average food you get in those lanes is better than the good food elsewhere.

Ram Laddoo, all dressed up 😛

 

Ram Laddoo outside the Metro Station
Food Enthusiasts waiting to embark on the Expedition

Post the Ram Laddoos we started our expedition, and decided to give a skip to the Ashok Chat this time. Been there, done that way too many times. But Hey! May be next time :D. Our first stop was a cart selling Kachoris. I am sure many of us love our drinks, however a night of heavy drinking always leaves a bad taste in mouth the morning after. And that is where Kamal Kachori waala’s claim to fame comes from. He is the only vendor that I know who serves his kachoris with chhole, instead of the usual aloo ki subzi. His chhole are known to be super spicy, making them extremely popular among people suffering from ‘morning after’ taste buds. But don’t lose heart, you can find pure joy and delight on any given day with or without the hung-over taste. The heat of the red chilli ‘tadka’ in the chhole and the strong and potent smell of heeng from the kachori would be enough to open up and assault your sinuses. Quite understandably one of the best and the most hit item we sampled that day all I can say is that I cannot wait to get back there and stuff myself silly with those kachoris.

Harjeev enjoying the Kamal’s Kachori
Pallavi found the flavors to be too difficult to resist.
To stay informed about our outings and other activities please join us on our Facebook Page. For more information about FED Raids, click here. Next in queue for the foodies was Chhole Bhature which is not technically a walled city specialty. My past experience with this Chhole Bhature waala (Near Lal Darwaza) was decent and this time as well he did not disappoint. Though not at par with the best in business, however still edible.

Quite surprisingly the lanes were choc-a-block with people selling Daulat ki Chat; however I have been warned time and again against having it from any of them due to various reasons. Luckily Gali Arya Samaj in Sita Ram Bazaar has the best Daulat Ki Chat waala in business. For those of you who are wondering what Daulat ki chat is, it is basically milk froth mixed with khoya. Froth is made by whipping the milk for a long time, and then powdered sugar and khoya are added to it before serving. It’s a winter delicacy and an extremely light dessert. Kalakand came next on list, coming straight from the Kadhai of another vendor with a small unnamed shop in the same lane. It was fresh and delicious.

Frech batch of Kalakand being prepared
Kalakand from the last Batch

Unable to think of anything else to eat in that gali, we decided to move towards Kucha Pati Ram, home to legendary Kude Mal Kulfi waala. However instead of taking the conventional route, we took another ‘exotic’ route and stumbled upon a shop selling Kachori and Samosa. How was it different? They had two varieties of Samosas, one stuffed with Mutter (Peas) and the other with Gobhi. The mutter samosa was quite a revelation, and also quite a hit. It is the season for peas and hence they were quite sweet, tender and flavorful. Mixed well with the right spices they are a potent combo for the taste buds.

Mutter Samosa
Kachoris and  Samosas
It was no surprise that Kude Mal, once again turned out to be highlight of the day. Just imagine 25 foodies, jostling with each other for every piece of kulfi that was available. From Anaar, Phalsa, Jaamun, Aam, Kiwi to Paan, Fruit Cream, Classic Kulfi, Aam Panna and Kala Khata, you name it and we had them all.
Unfortunately there was only person who was serving us, and before he could scoop out an entire kulfi from the can, it was already gone. But after having 40 kulfis in all, we had no reason to complain. And what was absolutely as delightful as the kulfis themselves was the fact that all of us took the Old Delhi lanes and got back to our childhood, quite literally. I don’t remember the last time all of us created such a racket to sample something. Jostle, jump and tug for something with all our heart and not once not twice but forty almost times like a bunch of over enthusiastic kids.

The final stop of the evening was in Chawri Bazaar for Veg Kathi Kebabs and Rumali Rotis. This is something that again one does not find on a daily basis in walled city, and luckily for us, we were there on a Sunday. Maybe I love that stuff too much because I am yet to have a Kathi Kebab that I did not like. That said most of my experiences of eating it have been in walled city as well. Average food found within the walled city is more often than not better than the good food found elsewhere ;-).

Veg. Kathi Kebab being prepared

The joy of being there that Sunday afternoon and the joy of revisiting that experience to pen it down is as good a conclusion as I can come up with for this post. Old Delhi lived to its promise, it sprang up some surprises and least of all it managed to delight one and all. Asking anything more is asking too much.

Food Enthusiasts of Delhi – The Happy Bunch
PS : Besides good food, the super-awesome company took the experience to all new high.

Written by Shashank Aggarwal, with support from Pallavi Shahi.

 
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The Carnivore Carnival – Ramzan Walk in Old Delhi

If you have been born and brought up in Delhi, chances are that the memories of evenings spent with family at the melas or carnivals of the “pre-mall” days, occupy a very important part of your childhood nostalgia. Remember the old feeling when your feet are screaming for a break from all the walking – but instead your eyes, filled with excitement, refuse to listen, and keep on pulling you towards the next attraction?? That was exactly how I was feeling today at Jama Masjid, and all the joy-rides were for my taste-buds.
Our gang of FED’s got together at the Chawri Bazaar metro station, and we started walking through the small eateries mainly catering to the Chawri Bazaar businessmen and the local residents. Until we reached the Jama Masjid area, the fare was only vegetarian, and rightly so, because had we gone straight to the other part, our vegetarian friends would have run away at the very beginning.
My narration starts forms the part 2 of our FED walk, or as I like to call it “The Carnivore Carnival”.
 
Ramzan or Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, during which, participating Muslims strictly refrain from eating food and even water during the daylight hours. It is only after sunset that they are allowed to take their first sip of water of the day. The fast breaking meal of the day is known as Iftar, which traditionally starts with the ceremonial eating of three dates, just as Prophet Muhammad used to do.
We were at the area called Matia Mahal which is the lane leading in towards the market opposite gate no: 1 of the Jama Masjid entrance. And since It is the holy month of Ramzan, we were there to join in on the celebrations. When we entered the lane, we couldn’t help being overwhelmed by the festive energy of the place. The joyful spirit instantly overpowers as you are drawn into the labyrinth of lights, colors, and best of all the succulent aroma of wonderful food.
Our first halt was at a biryani vendor, he had two different types of biryanis, the Chicken and beef (or as they called it “Bade ki Biryani”). Both of them tasted nice as they were cooked very well. But I must admit that this guy’s biryani was not the best one of the evening.
Twenty steps further into the lane was a grilled chicken outlet, I think its name was Aslam Chicken Corner. This guy is basically sitting on the street with a huge tawa, at-least 3 ft in diameter, full of marinated chicken breast pieces, and a small grill besides it. The Chicken was juicy and simply amazing, even though it was drenched in yellow butter, the taste was perfectly balanced with all the spices used in marinating it. At Rs. 65 for a skewer with 7 pieces it was just awesome.

 

Here, I met a few local youth, (who for some reason were convinced that I was from London and not Delhi ??) I asked one of them about his favorite food in the lane and he recommended a Chicken Biryani place and pointed out to the outlet. I’m glad I followed the dude’s advice.
The biryani here was out-standing, much better than the earlier place, it was cooked to perfection with each individual strand perfectly separated, and the aroma was a flawless melody of spices. The quality of rice they used was nothing like what I have ever seen before, each grain was at least half an inch long. The guy sitting at the Deg (the biryani vessel) told me that only a very special type of rice will make the biryani taste this good. This guy even had us try some of his Korma which was again great. I love mixing a little korma with my biryani.
 Also, adjoining this place was an outlet making Rotis and Sheermals. We were tempted to try the sheermal and they were superb. It is a flat bread which is mildly sweet and only slightly glazed and cooked in a tandoor. They too would have been a perfect accompaniment with the Korma.
All the food had me craving for a nice cool drink, and at that moment had I wished for something else, it would definitely have been granted. Just a couple of shops down the lane I saw something spectacular. This shop had a giant soda vending machine which had every flavor imaginable on offer. They had at least 15 different varieties of soda ranging from Leeche to Mango, Blueberry to Strawberry, you name it, and the taste was surprisingly commendable. We guys went crazy with delight. Seriously, I wasn’t kidding about the Mela part.
Up next I met the happiest food vendor I’ve seen in my whole life. This guy (who by the way had a striking resemblance with the actor Randeep Hooda.. see pic) was just so jubilant. He served us with an energy that was both entertaining and inspiring with a smile as big as the old city, and this was besides the fact that he was super-busy. He was selling this unique sharbat made with water, milk, Roohafza plus little chunks of watermelon added in the mix. It was only mildly sweet, delicious and totally refreshing.
Right next to this jolly fellow was a guy selling different curries out of a cart, now, how often do you get to see stuff like that? We asked him to give us a plate each of all his non-veg preparations. He set up a small table for us and sent us Hari Mirch Keema, Magaz (Brain) Curry, Mutton Korma, Dal Meat and Bade Ka Salan. We all had our favorites, mine was the Korma but the Magaz was the first one to be wiped off.

You have to pardon me for not giving you any names as these places are known more by their food and location. Most of them have been sitting at the same place selling the same food for decades without choosing any name for their outlet. In order to find them all you need to do is start walking into the lane and go on exploring.

To finish off, we decided to culminate the evening at the outlet which has made the Jama Masjid area food famous all over the world, we ended up at Karim’s. This place is an institution in itself. To reach there we had to walk back to the entrance of the lane where the very first Karim’s is located. It opened originally in the year 1918 (I think) and they have been putting smiles of people’s faces ever since.

We are all too familiar with Karim’s food, as any foodie worth his salt would be, so we just ordered a few of our favorites. In fact, I doubt if the majority of their visitors even look at their Menu card before ordering.

We had their Burra Kebabs, Nihari, Keema and Seekh Kababs. I even wanted to have the Raan which is the roasted whole leg of the goat but it was sold out, sadly.

The Burra is their most famous and popular preparation. It is made of pieces of goat meat marinated in their secret mix of spices and then slow cooked in the tandoor. The meat is soft and it melts in the mouth within a few bites, perfect. I could eat it all day.

The Nihari is again a goat meat preparation and is more popular during Ramzan. The gravy is very rich and creamy, again with a lot of spices added to create Magic. We finished off with the famous Phirni which is their version of kheer.

The food is no doubt very heavy with all the spices and Ghee, but, I feel, that is the essence of Mughlai food. After eating so much I’m glad I walked all the way back till New Delhi railway station, where I had parked.

When it comes to working with red meat, the Muslim chefs have definitely written the book on the subject. It will always be their art. I just hope their younger generation takes on the reins so we can continue savoring the delights as their art of cooking is passed on from generation to generation.
One last word on the prices. Karim’s by all standards is priced like any other mid-priced restaurant, Meal for two between Rs. 600 to Rs. 800 range. But the outlets outside on the street are all in the very affordable category, dishes range from Rs. 50 – Rs. 75 on average, and I reckon one can have a royal feast for well under Rs. 200.

Going to Jama Masjid for food is always joyful, but being there during Ramzan, is unlike any regular experience. The positivity, jubilation and the merriment that is so prevalent, just multiplies the flavor of the food fiesta.

Kake Di Hatti & Giani ka Faluda – A Combo for Ages

A mere mention of name Chandni Chowk in a discussion about food, throws up a long string of names, names of galis, kuchas, joints, eateries etc. Besides some of the equally legendary names, Kake Di Hatti always pops up. I am not much familiar with Fateh Puri Area, except for 2-3 times I have been there in last year or so, however as luck would have it, was never able to visit Kake Di Hatti. And surprisingly, despite such a big name, an average Delhite knows very little about it and its more surprising how little information internet has about it. 

Kake Di Hatti 
After visiting diners for two weeks, the popular demand for next outing was for something Desi, and it had been a while that we visited the walled city. So we decided that it is a good opportunity to sample the goodies offered by Kake Di Hatti, and this Saturday evening, around 17 of us landed at his doorstep. There was a huge crowd of customers at the entrance, most of them for getting the food packed and hardly and seating space visible, however we were guided to first floor. To get there you have to climb some stairs, which also serves as a stockyard for Potatoes and LPG Cylinders amongst other things. The first floor turned out to be quite pleasant, with couple of air conditioners trying very hard to keep things under control, and given the conditions, were doing a half decent job as well. The bare minimal furnishing comprised of highway style wooden table and benches, comfortable… who gives a damn. We were there for a reason and wanted to settle down and start hogging ASAP, few tables were rearranged, stools and benches pulled from here, pushed there, and we were all set.

Riding the Rickshaw, through a glorious looking Chandi Chowk
Fateh Puri Masjid
FEDs, All Set to HOG
A look at the menu, and my mouth was wide open, the prices were unbelievably cheap. Looking at what was being served at other tables, portions seemed to be huge, for a moment I was wondering how can they serve such huge portions of such awesome looking food for this price. But waiter confirmed that what we were seeing on other tables was the actual portion size. 

at the Tandoor
Stuffed naan
Naan – The Actual Size

We started slow, ordering 7 naans (1 naan has reputation of feeding 2 people), couple of Dal Makhanis and Kadhai Paneers. The menu had several varieties of Naan, however what caught our attention first was one that went by ‘Dhuandhaar’ naan, the name itself suggested something that would set things on fire and it did not disappoint. A clear favorite of FEDs, was able to impress one and all, except the ones who were not too comfortable with Chilies. Besides that, Paneer Naan, Aloo Naan, Pyaz Naan, Gobhi Naan, Mix Naan, Mutter Naan are a few that I can recall ordering and having. By the way, all their naans have a base stuffing on Aloo and everything else is added with the base of Aloo only. 

Kadahi Paneer

Dal Makhani

Rajma
Dal was simply amazing, the way Dal makhani is supposed to be. Shahi Paneer, Kadhai paneer were favorites however we did not enjoy their Mutter Paneer or Malai Kofta (but they were ordered towards the end of the session, so half the Junta was already full). The food was what you would expect from a Punjabi Dhaba of highest standards, portions were extremely generous and service acceptable. At the end of it, we ended up having 15-20 Naans, 4-5 Dal Makhani, 4-5 Shahi Paneer, 3 Kadhahi Paneers, Malai Kofta, Mutter Paneer and Palak Paneer. And the bill really took us by surprise, Rs.1868 in total. 

Chandni Chowk, during rains
Giani Di Hatti

Rabri being added by the measure
Ready to be served

This is how we do it, the crowd you see, everyone if from FED
We stepped out of Kake Di Hatti to a rain soaked, glorious looking Chandni Chowk. And set our sights next door, to Gianni Di Hatti for Rabri Faluda. I have had it before once, and was quite disapponited by it, didn’t find anything special in it and was too sweet for my taste. However this visit was totally different, I planned to have a few spoonfuls only, however couple of mouthfuls later, wanted the entire glass to myself, and so did everyone else. Though I am not a big fan of faludas, however after having had it at Giani’s that day, I am going back for more. 

Stuffed like a Naan
If you care for bit of history, Kake Di Hatti was started in 1940, and is handled by the 4th generation now. As the newspaper article framed and gathering dust in the eatery tells us, current owner is a graduate from Sri Ram College of Commerce and Post Graduate from Delhi School of Economics. Must admit, pretty solid qualification for selling those legendary Naans.

PS : Pics courtesy Harjeev Singh Chadha and Nikhil Garg.