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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

MASTERS OF DIFFERENT LEAGUE

Article » Asia

Old DelhiDelhiIndia

Submitted by: Nikki Utpaul

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Any mention of Delhi’s foodlife is incomplete without a chapter on Chandni Chowk. What is it about these street delights that makes you go back for more? We check out

The chaotic rumble, symbo- lic of Old Delhi, just like Giani, Karim’s and the Parathewali Gali, does not quite end there. Giani and Karim’s have expanded their horizon and spread wings outside the confines of the Walled City. Parathewali Gali is just another apology of a memory. But there are others who have have chosen to stay put and continue serving mouth-watering Indian fast food to their millions of fans. With this walk, we attempt to revisit the gastronomic tradition that not only sustains our sense of comfort but also anchors our well-being.

It is quite hard to miss the tantalising aroma of freshly made jalebi as you enter Dariba. It is an entirely different thing that you probably won’t spot where it is coming from given the crowd that surrounds the shop. I make my way past the crowd to have a look and give up, almost, as I find it difficult to hold my ground in the front. The man at the stove scoops a lot of brown spirals out of the hot oil and dunks it into sugar syrup. The wait seems endless. The recipe, says Kailash Jain, the fourth generation owner, is very simple. “We use flour, pure/desi ghee and sugar of top notch quality and make sure that the batter is made in front of us each day.” This is also the reason why their jalebis don’t taste sour. As Jain offers me a piece of the heavenly looking delight, he tells me what big a fan Raj Kapoor was of their jalebis. “There were times we would open the shop at four in the morning for Raj Kapoor’s bulk orders. We have also had the pleasure of serving all our Prime Ministers service since Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru,” he adds.

NATRAJ DAHI BHALLA @ MAIN ROAD
People who take the Metro to commute to Chandni Chowk would find it hard not to notice a serpentine queue outside this corner shop to buy a plate of Dahi Bhalla. Looking at Jitin Sharma, the third generation owner, so busy behind the counter, I wonder if he would even look up to acknowledge my presence. But he obliges me. “If I tell you the secret then it wouldn’t be one anymore,” he says dodging my question. “What makes our dahi bhallas different from the rest is the fact that we use home made masalas in all our chutneys in the correct measure to get the apt taste. Most important, we do not compromise on quality and use only the best of ingredients,” he says, directing the man sitting next to him to pack six plates for a customer. He turns back to flash a quick smile. “A pinch of misri (sugar) in your yogurt would go a long way,” he says before getting busy, all over again.

The fact that this shop has been continuously wining the coveted title of the best sweetmeat shop in food guides says it all. Fifth generation owner Mohan Kidwai tells me that the recipe for Karachi Halwa that has been handed down the generations is the one that belonged to the halwais who came to India from Karachi with the owners in 1901. Prepared and packed with utmost care, this sweet is available in four varieties — Pista Karachi Halwa, Pista Badam, Kesar Karachi Halwa, Kahu and Pista Karachi Halwa and Kaju-Badam Karachi Halwa. Those who find this halwa a bit too sticky and sweet for their tooth, try the traditional Sindhi Gujiya, which looks every bit inviting with the glistening layer covering the stuffing of khoya, kesar and dry fruits.  

DINESH KUMAR KACHORI WALA@NAI SARAK
It is the same with Dinesh Kumar who is busy fixing kachoris to be served with masaledar aloo and kachaloo ki subzi. “It is all a play of spices,” he says as he hands over a plate to a child who has been waiting impatiently for his order. I agree as I take in the whiff of the masala — it’s strong enough to give me a running nose. “We use quality ingredients and mix them with our own hands. Some of the masalas used for making the stuffing for kachori include dried Mango powder, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, mace, cumin, red chilli powder and salts (black and white),”  he says. Like others he talks of the strict adherence to the family recipe that has been handed down generations. “After 70 years, the taste of our kachoris remains unchanged. Our USP — ghar ka swaad — continues to hold true even today,” he boasts. Given that Kumar has taken his kachoris to countries like Tokyo, Amsterdam and Korea, he has a reason to do so. Arun Jain, an accountant and a local, vouches for Dinesh’s kachoris. “They are a must-have,” he tells me. “I often get my friends here to eat. These kachoris are not in the least oily and remind me of my childhood days,” he avers. The spicy chutney added to the aloo subzi packs a powerful sour punch as I try it, making the dish more fiery. For once I don’t mind the heat puffing out of my ears.

ASHOK CHAAT CORNER@CHAWRI BAZAAR
Iwait for the crowds to disperse before I can get Pradeep Kumar Jaiswal to talk to me. It is the busiest time of the day. Instead, I order a plate for myself. The crispy papri seasoned with yogurt and various chutneys is definitely different than any other that I have ever tasted. “Did you like it?” he asks when he does manage to take time out. I nod in response and urge him to share his secret. “It is made of raw mango. In fact, this is the base of all chutneys that we prepare as also the water that we use to go with gol gappas,” he shares. Adding spice and flavour to the chutney is a mix of as many as 17 masalas, he adds. The real speciality, he points out, is kalmi wade made out of chane ki dal (bengal gram) and only two masalas — salt and baking soda. “You won’t find any thing like this else where,” he says with supreme confidence. I believe it.

DULI CHAND GUPTA’S KULFI@SITA RAM BAZAAR
Hidden in the confines of a Kucha Patiram Gali in Sita Ram Bazaar is a small shop that supplies this Indian dessert to the high-end restaurants and chains like Sagar Ratna, Not Just Paranthas, Ashoka Hotel, Kwality restaurant, Embassy Hotel and restaurants at Pandara Road. There is much to choose from the long list of flavoured kulfis like, Anar, kulfi faluda, Mango, plain cream kulfi, fruit cream kulfi, Orange- stuffed kulfi, Apple-stuffed kulfi and the most in demand Matka kulfi. “They started out as mobile vendors, but grew to be a big chain by sheer hardwork and honesty,” said an attendant behind the counter. And for sure there are no branches to look out for. I try out the fruit-stuffed kulfis and am instantly smitten. It is not for nothing that people keep coming back for more. I know I would for sure. And you would too, if you tried them once.

Parathewali Gali, Dariba

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