Tag Archives: Street food

Shahjahanabad coolers

Street the heat ♦

Feeling a bit parched in puraani Dilli? Quench your thirst at these local institutions. Read the Time Out Delhi (July 2009) story as a PDF, find the text reproduced below, or download it here.

(Pairs well with this story on old Delhi street food.)

Amritsari Lassi Wala

The thickest lassi we’ve found in old Delhi is available at this wellknown neon-yellow shop. Very much of the heartland, the lassi is served with a spoon and plenty of malai chunks. It’s also ice-cold and available in flavours like banana, jeera namkeen, mango and rose. Amritsari Lassi Wale has been around in Delhi since 1974 and is conveniently located next to a number of chhola bhatura walas. 295 Fatehpuri Chowk, at Chandni Chowk (2394-2260). Metro Chandni Chowk. Rs 8-20.

Bikaner Sweet Shop

Compared to some surrounding vendors, this namkeen shop is a newbie, having been established only 27 years ago. That certainly doesn’t stop passers-by from availing of the shop’s convenient location in Dariba, just out of the sun of Chandni Chowk. A bucket of ice holds bottles of kaju milk, pista milk and badam milk. 255 Dariba Kalan, off Chandni Chowk (2328-1971). Metro Chandni Chowk. Rs 20.

Jain Coffee House

Perhaps better-known for his fruit-and-cream sandwiches, Pawan Kumar at the Jain Coffee House also whips up some sweet milkshakes. Available in seasonal flavours, the whole milk shakes are frothier than the little-girl party frocks on Chandni Chowk. Mango, apple and coffee were the choices when we visited. Raghu Ganj, Chawri Bazaar (2391-8925). Metro Chawri Bazaar. From the station, take the main road towards Jama Masjid. You’ll walk past a big shop called Gujarat Namkeen Bhandar on your left. Watch for an iron gate on the left side that says Raghu Ganj. Go through this to a courtyard – JCH is on the left corner. Mon-Sat 9am-7.30pm. Rs 25. If you’re closer to Chandni Chowk, try Kamdhenu Family Corner, which has mango, chocolate and other seasonal shakes. 5469 Nai Sarak, corner of Chandni Chowk, opposite Town Hall (2394-4386). m Chandni Chowk. Daily 9.30am-8pm. Rs 20.

Murarilal Inderjit Sharma

The crowd outside Murari’s lassi, dahi, milk and paneer outlet in Kinari Bazaar is relentless. Established about 60 years ago, the dairy stall uses two of Delhi’s classic “Sultan” machines to churn creamy – but not excessively thick – lassi in kullars and steel glasses. Some of the area’s merchants bring their own silver cups to be filled. A squirt of kewra is added and the glass is topped with a thin, creamy-crisp slab of malai before serving. A namkeen version is also available. 2178 Kinari Bazaar (2327-1464). Metro Chandni Chowk. Rs 20.

Oberoi Sindhi Lemonade

This neat little stall stocks shikanji masala powder, bottles of banta and neat little bottles of jeera masala soda. The concept is identical to Pandit Ved Prakash (see p38), but this stall is a little quieter, cleaner and almost next door. Nai Sarak. Turn left on Nai Sarak off Chandni Chowk and the stall is on your right. Metro Chandni Chowk.

Pakodimal doodhwala

This little lassi stall isn’t marked, but it’s across the road from a few others that are (Jain Bengali Sweets among them). What sets Pakodimal’s stand apart is his barfiwali lassi, in which a piece of khoya barfi is mixed in with the yogurt. According to food writer Rahul Verma, this stall might be one of the oldest doodhwalas in town. Sadly, the old man wasn’t there when we visited, and the barfiwali lassi had finished for the day. But we’ll definitely be back to try it. From Khari Baoli, turn left on Naya Bans and stop at the third or fourth stall to your left, opposite Jain Bengali Sweets. Metro Chawri Bazaar. Rs 15-20.

Pandit Ved Prakash Lemon Wale

The Pandit’s progeny claim that their ancestor popularised the nimbu-soda banta. The family has been in the cold drinks line for about 150 years, according to Chinibhai, one of the brothers who runs the stalls in Dariba Kalan and near the Town Hall. Until the British introduced the Codd-neck bottle to India (it was invented by Hiram Codd in 1872), the family was in the sharbat business. In the early 1900s, they began focusing their efforts on banta, mixed with their own house masala. They also sell their own jeera masala soda. 5466 Chandni Chowk (2392-0931); 266 Dariba Kalan (2325-5259). Metro Chandni Chowk. Rs 7-9 per glass.

Sheher-e-sharbat

Finding the rainbow connection in Khari Baoli

If, on a hot summer day, you happen to visit Harnarain Gokalchand’s murabba and pickle shop, you’ll be offered a cup of bright green liquid, with a scent like rain over dusty leaves. Khus (vetiver) sharbat is just one of the elixirs stocked at this store, that is now more than 70 years old. Though many of the murabba-achaar stores along the wholesale spice market stock sharbat, Harnarain is one of the few that still manufactures it. Of course, the manufacturing process has changed a bit since the shop first opened (it used to have a branch in Connaught Place as well). Though the line of sharbats is manufactured in the dusty industrial area of Lawrence Road and despite the fact that most of the ingredients listed involve preservatives, the objective of this implausibly coloured arsenal of mixers remains the same: to cool you down. The Arora family, which owns the store, manufactures bel, amla, kewra, chandan (sandal), khus and rose sharbats as well as mango panna – all priced under Rs 75 per bottle. Perhaps the snazziest sharbat line on the market, though, is the Shri Guruji brand, also available at a few shops in Khari Baoli. Founded in Kolkata in 1970, the company drew its inspiration from family patriarch Shree Jagdeeshprasad from Shekhavati, Rajasthan. The guruji is said to have once held a 16-day satsang, during which he served 16 different cold drinks. The company – now based in Indore – makes kesariya thandai; sharbats in flavours including badam kesar, chandan, kesar pista, kesar, khus, rose and “panchamrit” (intriguingly, the bottle only lists gulab, kewra, chandan and kesar: what is the mystery fifth ingredient?); squashes like amla, bel, jamun, lemon, lemon barley, lemony ginger, litchi, orange, and pineapple; and fruit cordial. Harnarain Gokalchand 6678 Khari Baoli (2399-2590). Metro Chawri Bazaar. Mon-Sat 11am- 8pm. Sharbat Rs 65-75. Ram Lal Om Prakash (For Guruji sharbats) 6542 Khari Baoli, Fatehpuri (2396-7853). Metro Chawri Bazaar. Mon-Sat 10am-7pm. Sharbat Rs 85-140. 

Pink drink

Before Campa, there was kewra

If Delhi can claim any drink as its own, it’s Rooh Afza. The sharbat, almost synonymous with sweetness in our city, has an intriguing family story behind it. In 1906, Hakim Abdul Majeed, a Unani medicine practitioner who had studied under Ajmal Khan, started his own clinic in Lal Kuan. The next year, he started selling bottles of the rose-red concentrate. His son, Hakim Abdul Hameed, expanded the Hamdard Dawakhana and popularised his father’s summer sharbat beyond the walled city. After Partition, his brother Mohammad Said went to Karachi to take care of Hamdard’s operations in Pakistan. The brothers kept in constant touch and the Indian and Pakistani companies grew together. They both set up universities and Said did a turn in politics as well. Eventually, he was assassinated and, within a year, his brother in Delhi also passed away. The company is still in the family’s hands, with Majeed’s greatgrandsons Hamid Ahmed and Asad Mueed working on revamping Rooh Afza’s image with Juhi Chawla ads and new jingles. The taste of the drink, however, remains the same, just as the Hamdard Dawakhana still stands as a major landmark in Lal Kuan. A lot of components go into that indescribable flavour: sugar syrup; pineapple juice and orange juice; extract of dhania, gajjar (carrot), khurfa (bara lunia or purslane), tarbooz (watermelon), palak (spinach), pudina (mint), hara ghia (luffa), kasni (chicory), munaqqa (raisins), sandal, khus (vetiver), chharrila (stone flower lichen), gul nilofar (waterlily), gaozaban (borage or starflower), citrus flowers, kewra and rose. Available at general stores across the city. Rs 90 for 700ml.

(Pairs well with this story on old Delhi street food.)

Originally published in Time Out Delhi, July 2009. 

Published: July 24, 2009

Amritsari Meatwala

Khau gali ♦

AmritsariMeat_TimeOutDelhi_Shah

(Photos: Paroma Mukherjee)

The market under the Defence Colony flyover is possibly one of the least savoury destinations inside the Ring Road. Just behind red and shiny Nirula’s, behind the thekas, men in banians guzzle beer and chomp on kababs at an Afghan chicken stop. We’re more interested in the other side of the bridge, however, where one of Lajpat’s premier street food vendors serves meat for four hours a day to a clamouring horde.

Amritsari Meatwala is a bit hard to find these days, because of Metro construction. Just follow the flies, turning left after the Metro boards into a gali sandwiched between buildings and the construction ditch. Turn right around the corner, and the elevated shop is to your right. Owner Narender Kumar sweats between two giant cauldrons filled with disintegrating brown meat mush; his minions chop onions and fling newspaper-wrapped potlis with plastic containers of meat at the outstretched hands of the customers. There’s a small seating area in the back as well.

AmritsariMeat_TimeOutDelhi_Shah2We can honestly say that if you can handle this meal, you can handle anything. About two-parts chilly-spiked desi ghee to one-part melted meat, the variations are simple: keema with meat lumps on the bone, keema kaleji and keema anda. (There’s biryani as well, but we ignored it.) We got a plate each of keema meat and keema anda, and several thick crusty rotis. The meat retains its heat for ages because of all the ghee. It’s also infused with cardamom, kali mirch, chilly and, we suspect, something of its creator’s essence as well. We especially liked the softness of the crumbling, cooked-through egg yolks. The curries would make a good addition to a boozy dinner party, but we’d recommend you get there early – the meat runs out faster at the stall than it does through your system.

C-125 Lajpat Nagar-I, Defence Colony Flyover Market (98189-95844).  Rs. 70 per plate.

Originally published in Time Out Delhi, July 2009.

Published: July 24, 2009

Mirdard Lane

Khau gali ♦

MirdardLane_1

(Photos: Paroma Mukherjee)

New Delhi gives way to the old city as you cross the railway line northeast of Connaught Place. A little before Shahjahanabad proper, however, the area between Ferozeshah Kotla, Gandhi Market and ITO already feels more like Sheher than Nai Dilli. This is where the balance of traffic switches from cars to cycle-rickshaws and pedestrians. Along Mirdard Lane, near Mata Sundri Road, there are innumerable barber shops and a masjid and kabristan called Takia Kale Khan. Mata Sundri gurudwara isn’t far, and the Aiwan-e-Ghalib auditorium is close at hand as well.

Watch for a little stretch of food stalls, with people and flies buzzing away with abandon, and meaty aromas you won’t find in your local adda. A number of stalls sell fried, griddled and flamed foodstuffs in the evening. In between are a few butcher shops selling poultry, mutton, and goat heads (the animals themselves are tied up outside the DDA flats just behind the stalls). The faint-hearted needn’t quail, however – the atmosphere of butchery is far tamer than the back-lanes of INA market on any given day. And the regular patrons make for a pretty cosmopolitan mix. In the evenings, you’ll find autowalas in their gray uniforms, neighbourhood families, children from a nearby madrassa in their dun-coloured kurta-pyjamas and a few hopeful cats and dogs.

The first food stall sells fried chicken: a golden ring of battered birds laid out around a giant kadhai. Next are stalls selling tandoori chicken, Changezi chicken, biryani, korma, fish tikkas and other kababs. The last stall, just before Maharaja Ranjeet Singh Marg, is an unmarked green-tiled kitchen with a photo of the Taj Mahal as its only ornamentation. The establishment is known locally as “Mumtaz tikkewala” and it serves meat seekhs and tikkas (Rs 3 each). The tikkas are small and soft little morsels, properly burnt around the edges. The seekhs are slender rolls of granular meat, flecked with little juicy bits of garlic. These are served with roomali rotis (Rs 2), a wedge of lime, a mass of onions and a salty, tangy chutney made of “khattai” (tamarind and other spices) and yoghurt. The stall’s speciality is a seekh-tikka combination roomali roll. The adjacent general store will supply you with a cold drink to wash down the grease and spice.

MirdardLane_2Top off these cheap thrills with an even cheaper one: a piping hot, juicy jalebi (Rs 1 each), from the cart across the road. An andawala, fruit-vendors and chaiwalas are also installed in the area. Best of all, these local delights are a mere two-minute drive from CP.

From Barakhamba Road, take Maharaja Ranjeet Singh Marg. Proceed over the flyover and take the first right at the signal (at Mother Dairy). Follow your nose to the stalls at your right. Daily 6.30- 11pm. Metro Barakhamba Road

Originally published in Time Out Delhi, May 2009.

Published: May 1, 2009

Stirring the pot

Delhi’s culinary melange ♦

Part of a Time Out Delhi food cover story, this is a short history of Delhi food, plus a guide to eating in the old city (published in 2008). Read the story as a PDF, find the text reproduced below, or download the PDF here.

(Pairs well with this story on old Delhi drinks.)

Great cities are defined, at least to some degree, by great cuisines: either through an easily available and intrinsic tradition, or through making choices available that draw the culinary traveller from far and wide. Paris and Shanghai are examples of the former, London and New York perhaps of the latter. We’ve checked off the monuments and the Metro in our own Delhi, we’re well-stocked with netas, bade baap ka betas and SUVs, but what do we have to offer in terms of a culinary narrative? In a city as old as ours, surely our food isn’t only about butter chicken, qorma and kababs?

Some of the earliest accounts of food in Delhi come from the fourteenth century traveller Ibn Battuta’s writing. In her The Essential Delhi Cookbook, Priti Narain (who is herself from a Kayasth Mathur Delhi family) paraphrases Battuta’s descriptions of Sultanate feasts. She writes that these rulers brought with them the habit of communal dining, with people seated hierarchically. Battuta also describes beginning the meal with a sharbat and ending it with paan. But then, written traces of “Sultanate food” pretty much disappear.

According to educator and activist Sohail Hashmi, Delhi court cuisine was an amalgam of Central Asian (Turkic, Persian etc) and local techniques. As he said, “In Central Asia, most food is cooked on spits or in ovens and in animal fat. You have very limited use of spices. The chunks of meat are large and not as soft as we cook them. When the Central Asians came, the tradition of bhun-na, using ghee as an agent, was added. These two mixed to create what we know today as Mughlai food.”

While most scholars and foodies claim that what we call Mughlai is possibly more influenced by Awadhi or Nizami cuisine than what the Mughals ate, there are references to food and cooking in various Mughal documents: the Baburnama, the Ain-i-Akbari and other, less formal sources. A section of the Baburnama describes how Babur brought certain fruits like melons and grapes to India. (It appears the ruler missed these so much that he once became teary-eyed upon cutting open a melon.) It also talks of the local edible flora and fauna and describes concoctions like murabba. The Ain-i-Akbari has a section with price lists for various foodstuffs, as well as full recipes with measurements of several dishes.

Much of the variety of these ingredients has disappeared. Hashmi told us how many saag varieties are no longer cooked, or indeed, aren’t even available anymore. The Ain-i-Akbari’s regional specifications of goat and lamb varieties seem unimaginably exotic today. Other ingredients, which we take completely for granted, are newer additions. Narain writes that potatoes only came to North India by about 1830. Tomatoes came only about 20 years after that. Chillies were introduced to South India by the Portuguese in the 1500s, but probably took longer to reach Delhi, as they are not mentioned in the Ain-i-Akbari.

While Muslim cuisine is perhaps the best recorded, Delhi cuisine was and is made up of the traditions of several communities. Delhi’s sizeable Kayasth community were scribes and officials in the imperial courts and, as such, their food habits were heavily influenced by Muslim ones. There was also an inventive vegetarian tradition: Narain mentions several dishes that featured vegetables masquerading as meat. Kayasth recipes and menu plans could be found – along with Muslim ones – in Urdu cookbooks that were possibly originally put together by housewives. Indeed, Mathur found some of her recipes in these unfortunately no-longer-available treasure troves.

Banias, particularly Marwaris, and Khatris are chiefly responsible for Delhi’s vegetarian traditions. The hallowed tradition of Delhi chaat may have come from the Bania community, according to several sources. Hashmi is of the opinion that khomchawalas (gents carrying their wares in baskets on their heads) would hawk their kulfi and chaat from store to store, and the storekeepers would call them over to keep the snack train going. Or, the khomchawalas would be called home for family feasts. These street traditions continue alongside their non-vegetarian counterparts in the walled city. The newer tradition of Punjabi and frontier food and the attendant popularity of chicken and tandoori items have been added to the mix since Partition.

Uniformly, every food-lover or scholar we spoke to said that the best examples of any of Delhi’s cuisines – whether from the “traditional” resident communities of the sheher or newer migrant ones – can be found in people’s homes. We can’t provide you with a list of people’s phone numbers, obviously. But if you start in the old city, a quick course in the evolution of our city’s khana is possible. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best, most authentic, most inventive or just most popular places to eat out in purani Dilli, as well as a list of caterers and bawarchis to start with. Happy exploring.

Meat

Al Jawahar Jawahar’s new and old branches serve “Mughlai” (kababs and oily curries) in a slightly more laid-back fashion than Karim’s. According to Hashmi, Jawahar was founded by a family of butchers; food critic Marryam Reshii holds that their cuts are better than Karim’s. 65 Bazaar Matia Mahal, opposite Gate 1, Jama Masjid (2326-9241); metro Chawri Bazaar. Daily 7am-midnight. Meal for two Rs. 300.

Kallu Nihari Beloved nihariwala of Delhi foodies (and their patron saint, writer Rahul Verma) – but you’ll have to get there early; this stuff runs out fast. Verma suggests Haji Noora ki nihari at Bara Hindu Rao for a spicier version of the dish. Kallu: 180 Chhatta Lal Mian, Jama Masjid, approach via Churiwalan and ask for Tiraha Behram Khan; Metro Chawri Bazaar; daily 5-7pm. Haji Noora ki nihari: 3576 Bara Hindu Rao, Thelewali Gali, Sangtarashan; daily 6-8am, 6-9pm.

Karim’s Hotel The classic, if only by virtue of reputation. While Charmaine O’Brien mentions in her book Flavours of Delhi that the Karim progenitor was an Arabian soldier-turned-personal cook for Babur, Hashmi told us that “Karim has very cleverly invented himself. It is in Gali Kababian – this is a family of kababchis who then said, ‘shahi hain’.” Whatever the true story, it won’t make a jot of difference to the popularity of the famous burras. 16 Gali Kababian, Bazaar Matia Mahal, opposite Gate 1, Jama Masjid (2326-9880); Metro Chawri Bazaar; Daily 7am-midnight; Meal for two Rs 300.

Super Meat Stall Avtar Singh’s family used to sell swords in the underground market at gurudwara Sis Ganj. In 1966, Singh’s grandfather and father set up Super Meat Stall, popularly known as “Super Meat Wale”. Try their hot, spicy curries of mutton pieces or keema with phulkas, or the mutton pulao with gravy. 937 HC Sen Road, Chandni Chowk, near Fountain, next to HSBC ATM (6990-2920); Metro Chandni Chowk; daily 10am-9pm.

Ustad Moinudeen Rahul Verma’s pick of the kababchis. He vouched that “the seekh kabab is very soft, not rubbery like you get in most places”. And it’s not made of mutton. Gali Qasim Jaan, Lal Kuan, in front of Hamdard Dawakhana; Metro Chawri Bazaar; daily noon-8.30pm.

Vegetarian meals

Adarsh Bhojanalaya The few sit-down places to eat ghar ka khana out in the old city are Marwari-style bhojanalayas. Verma recommended Adarsh to us, despite its lack of good seating. Order the separate special tadka along with your unlimited thali. Verma also recommends nearby Annapurna. We also like New Soni’s thali of unlimited dal, aloo-tamatar and phulka and limited daily sabzi, raita and sweet. Adarsh: 483 Haider Quli Corner, below Andhra Bank, Chandni Chowk (2398-7576); Metro Chandni Chowk; daily 10.30am-6pm, 6-11pm. Annapurna Guest House: 680 Church Mission Road, Fatehpuri (2396-6680); Metro Chandni Chowk; daily 10.30am-3pm, 6.30 -11pm. New Soni: 5568 Nai Sarak (2393-6143); Metro Chandni Chowk; Mon-Sat 11am-4pm, 7pm- 11pm.

Chacha Di Hatti This chhole-bhatura wala staple is not strictly within the old city, but according to Verma, Kamala Nagar was where the first generation of migrants out of purani Dilli shifted to in the 1950s. Limited supply, so get there early. 32 Bungalow Road, Delhi University, behind Kirori Mal College; Metro Vishwavidyalaya. Daily 9.30am-3pm.

Kake Di Hatti This nondescript but famous eatery was started about 63 years ago by owner Gurdeep Singh’s great-grandfather. Kake’s lunch thali is minimal but memorable, the rotis simply enormous, the dal makhani legendary, and the 11 kinds of stuffed paratha less greasy than the ones in Parathewali Gali. 654 Church Mission Road, Fatehpuri (98109-09754); Metro Chandni Chowk; daily 7.30am-12.30pm.

Makhan Lal Tikka Ram This one is the place to try a Delhi breakfast favourite: bedmi-aloo. Almost before you enter the old city from the north, in the midst of the auto parts market opposite St James Church, is a little shop whose board reads “Makhan Lal Tika Ram – mltr”, but which has for years been known as Mitthan Ki Bedmi (despite the fact that the gentleman at the counter insists that Mitthan’s sweet shop closed down circa 1975 and all that remains of it is Mitthan Motors three shops down). Strictly speaking, it’s a sweet-shop, but it has a tiny balcony into which you can cram yourself (along with about seven other people) and eat fantastic bedmis (Rs 7 a plate). Served with a mixed aloo-chhole ki sabzi and khatte aam ki launji, two of these are a meal. Try their matthri and nagori-halwa as well. If you’re in the Chawri Bazaar area, try Ram Swarup’s or Shyam Sweets for more of the same. If you’re closer to Chandni Chowk, head to Shiv Mishtan Bhandar – an institution as much for its bedmi as for its political celebrity client list. MLTR: 1259- 60 Bara Bazaar, Kashmere Gate (3255-9415); Metro Kashmere Gate; daily 5.30am-10.30pm. Ram Swarup: 3284 Bazaar Sita Ram (2395-5569); Metro Chawri Bazaar; daily 6am-10pm. Shyam Sweets: 114 Chowk Barshabulla, Chawri Bazaar (2326-8087); Metro Chawri Bazaar; daily 6.30am-10pm. Shiv Mishtan Bhandar: 375 Kucha Ghasi Ram, Chandni Chowk (2392- 1406); Metro Chandni Chowk; daily 6am-10pm.

Nirmal Restaurant Try this alternative to the famous fried breads at Pandit Babu Ram Devi Dayal and its ilk in Parathewali Gali. “Asha Ram ke parathe” (named for the original owner three generations ago) are richly stuffed and include some of the best paneer parathas (Rs 16) around. Even better, there are three large rooms to eat in – with a view across the Town Hall chowk. 756 Chandni Chowk, opposite Town Hall; Metro Chandni Chowk; daily 6.30am-midnight. Pandit Babu Ram Devi Dayal Parathewali Gali, Chandni Chowk (98116- 02460); Metro Chandni Chowk; Daily 9am-midnight.

Snacks and chaat

Ashok Chaat Bhandar This award-winning chaatwala (as opposed to the other Ashok across the road) has kalmi vada and kachalu chutney to make the chaat pop with flavour. 3611 Hauz Qazi Chowk, entrance of Bazaar Sita Ram (2382-7740), Metro Chawri Bazaar, daily 11am-9pm.

Natraj Café Known locally as “bank ki pakodi”, the dahi bhallas (Rs 20) served here are well-known beyond the walled city as well. The dahi is the winning factor: it’s perfectly balanced between sweet and tangy. They do aloo tikkis in desi ghee as well and have a full menu and upstairs seating every day but Sunday. 1396 Chandni Chowk, next to Central Bank of India (6576-4631, 98111- 67400); Metro Chandni Chowk; daily 10am-7pm.

Padam Chaat Bhandar Caterer Gunjan Goela’s favorite golgappas, served, as she put it, “with nakhra”. Usually stationed nearby, just outside Naugharana, is another golguppa cart with colourful palak and chukandar golguppas. Outside Baraf Wali Gali, Kinari Bazaar, Metro Chandni Chowk; Mon- Sat noon-8pm.

Sultan Kullewala Kulle is a true Delhi snack invented about 50 years ago. Today, Sultan’s grandson Sanjay sells the chaat in a busy gali. The chaat itself is a basket of peeled potato, filled with anardana, boiled channa and fine strips of ginger, and the whole sprinkled with a number of homemade masalas. Be warned though, when Sanjay asks you how spicy you like your kulle, say medium, unless you’re readying for a blast. Cheera Khana, Roshan Pura, Nai Sarak (2328-2848). m Chawri Bazaar. Mon-Sat 1-6pm. Rs 20 for eight.

Sweets

Afreen & Zayed Sweets One of a couple of shahi tukda walas around the Jama Masjid/Matia Mahal area. Delhi’s most unholy triumvirate: bread, cream and a swimming pool of ghee. Near Hussain Chicken Corner, Jama Masjid (93502-17460); Metro Chawri Bazaar. Daily noon-midnight.

Daulat Ki Chaat No, not chaat, and it isn’t sold by a man named Daulat, but this soft whipped milk topped with kesar-flavoured whipped milk, ground brown sugar, pista and varq is the Chandni Chowk foodie’s holy grail. Monu Singh and his khomcha can be found Mon-Sat 9am-7pm at Dariba Kalan; Sun 9am-7pm at the intersection of Parathewali Gali and Kinari Bazaar (98731-32271/98738- 41912). Rs 10 per plate.

Deepak Dewan Fruit Cream This sweet little red cart can be found floating around Dariba and Kinari Bazaar. Within it is the most delicious thing: pieces of banana, pineapple and apple sunk in soft cream. Daily noon- 8pm. Rs 10 per cup.

Giani Di Hatti Started in 1951 by Lyallpur immigrant Giani Gurcharan Singh, this rabri falooda joint soon expanded to shakes, moong dal halwa and ice cream. Pretty soon it expanded to other parts of the city as well. Church Mission Road, Fatehpuri (2393- 6174); Metro Chandni Chowk; Daily 11am-midnight. Also caters.

Hazari Lal Jain Stop by here for all your khurchan, malai roll and malai laddoo needs. 2225 Kinari Bazaar, Chandni Chowk (2325- 3992); Metro Chandni Chowk. Mon- Sat 7am-midnight.

Lala Duli Chand Naresh Gupta Across the street from better-known and older Kuremal’s kulfi dukaan. According to the attendant at Duli’s, these two shops (and a few others in the area) supply much of Delhi with kulfi. Duli supplies to the Ashok Hotel, the Taj, Bengali Market and Sagar and is 40 years old, he told us. There are 76 items on their menu card – not bad for a room with a freezer and a couple of plastic chairs. Don’t miss their fantastic stuffed kulfis (apple, orange, mango, kiwi and more). Duli Chand: 934 Kucha Pati Ram, Bazaar Sita Ram (2323-5926, 98102-02990); Metro Chawri Bazaar; daily noon- 8pm. Kuremal Mohanlal Kulfiwale: 1165-66 Kucha Pati Ram, Bazaar Sita Ram (2323-2430, 98105- 40105); Metro Chawri Bazaar; Mon- Sat noon-8pm.

Old Famous Jalebiwala The name speaks for itself at this century-old counter. They also have samosas, but it’s the rope-like jalebis (even bigger jalebas available on request) that steal the show. 1795 Chandni Chowk, corner of Dariba (2325-6973, 98110-20546); Metro Chandni Chowk; daily 8am-10pm.

Halwais Shahjahanabad boasts of several historical sweet shops – from well-known Ghantewala (established in 1790) on Chandni Chowk itself to Shireen Bhawan tucked away in Chitli Qabar. In between are Annapurna Bhandar (the second Bengali sweets shop in sheher, established after Kamala Sweets closed in 1940), Chaina Ram in Fatehpuri, Kanwarji’s (from 1830, known for its dalbiji) and others. Traditional Delhi sweets that are commonly available are pista or kaju lauj, habshi halwa (brown, burnt-milk halwa), gond halwa and laddoo, sohan halwa and ghee ghewar (in the winter). Ghantewala: 1862 Chandni Chowk (2328-0490); Metro Chandni Chowk; daily 8am- 9pm. Shireen Bhawan: 1466 Chitli Qabar, Jama Masjid (98187- 93124); Metro Chawri Bazaar; daily 8am-9pm. Annapurna Bhandar: 1463 Chandni Chowk (2396- 2050, 2386-8466); Metro Chandni Chowk; Mon-Sat 8am-8.30pm, Sun 8am-noon. Chaina Ram Sindhi Halwai: 6499-6470 Fatehpuri Chowk, Fatehpuri (2395-0747); Metro Chandni Chowk; daily 7am- 8.30pm. Kanwarji’s: 1972-73 Chandni Chowk, corner of Parathewali Gali (2326-1318); Metro Chandni Chowk; daily 9am-9pm.

Catering and cooking

Besides the fact that several of the chaatwalas and halwais that we’ve listed above will cater events (just call and ask), there are a number of bawarchis and caterers who cook for parties. You’ll have to go once to discuss your requirements – you’ll be given a shopping list and you’ll have to come back to pick up your food. We’ve been assured the effort is worth it.

Babu Khan South Delhi’s old standby for biryani, supposed to be descended from Shahjahan’s bawarchis. Good in a pinch. Matka Pir, next to Pragati Maidan (2337- 1454); Metro Pragati Maidan; daily 8am-8pm.

Gunjan Goela Daughter of an old Delhi family, Goela caters sheher ka khana for weddings and parties. She can also arrange khomchawallas for chaat and desserts from the old city. Call (98113- 49055, 92120-35323).

Hakim Bawarchi Makes excellent biryani and qorma and comes recommended by both Goela and Verma. Rodgran, Lal Kuan. Head past the Hamdard Dawakhana, reach a corner with a man selling gajak, turn left and ask; Metro Chawri Bazaar.

Idris Sohail Hashmi recommended Idris’ qorma and biryani to us. Churiwalan, opposite Metro Guest House, 639 Churiwalan, near Jama Masjid; Metro Chawri Bazaar.

SM Zaki Based in Civil Lines. Recommended by Goela. Qorma, biryani and nihari for under ten people. Call (98991-06206).

(Pairs well with this story on old Delhi drinks.)

Originally published in Time Out Delhi, November 2008.

Published: November 14, 2008