Old Delhi - Eating My Way Around - Part 1
When your dealing with a place rooted in food, with each little gali aspiring to be known for something more delicious than the other, its fair to take a break . . :)
So it all began with a friend visiting, who undoubtedly had an Old Delhi tour sketched out for himself. Now what better an occasion than this to inspire my lazy behind to make a move. Of course what the poor boy was not aware of was how Jama Masjid might end up looking like a matka full of fragrant biryani or Purana Qila would resemble the narrow streets of Parathe Wali Gali. We did allow him the spectacular views of the Red Fort, it was his Old Delhi trip after all . .
Lets get down to business:
- Shree Balaji Chaat Bhandar - 2.5
After having had this name come out of my ears, every food guide, almost every food blog, of course I had to try it. A very unassuming spot that I even walked past at first. And boy oh boy do I wish I kept walking. Talk about OVER RATED! Seriously, forget recommending it at all, I wouldn't even think of doing that to you all. Lets face it there is no shortage of good even decent chaat in Delhi. It had a about five things. Out of which we got the following:
- So for those of you that don't know this is a dish with crumbled kachoris (dough thats been stuffed with dried lentils, spices, dry fruits and deep fried till its crispy), potatoes, and finally topped with curd, sweet tamarind chutney and spicy mint/coriander chutney. Dont be fooled by the pretty appetizing picture for it was not the case. Ok so its not the worst chaat in the world but definitely not worth stopping at with better options around. The flavours just didn't come together. Oil used to fry everything tasted old and over used. The worst part was the curd, that was too watery and had a gone-off way of reminding you it was after all fermented.
Kalmi Badda/Vada Chaat
- Kalmi vada/badda is essentially made of chickpea flour, these round crispy things are fried then cut then re fried to give it that added crunch. Why fry once when you can fry twice. I had never tried this before or even heard of it which was more reason for me to order it. The Kalmi vada itself was fairly tasty, but alas it was not a one man show.
I hear his gol gappas are the best but after this fiasco i didnt want to even bother testing my stomach.
In your best interest crumpets I am withholding the address. After all there should be no reason for you to go there.
2. Natraj Dahi Bhalla - 4.5
You cant miss it with the crowds around this little place.
- It was this top notch, "not your ordinary," that I was looking for. Getting to Old Delhi for me is no walk to my neighbours. Its a hike! So it better be worth it, and it was. Natraj Bhalla Walla only serves two things. Dahi Bhalla and Aloo tikki (Sadly by 5.30 the tikki was all sold out!). I didnt even know bhalla could taste all that exceptional. These spongy fluffy things are made with a paste of black gram lentils, that is made in to small balls and fried golden. What made these bhallas so delish is the savoury lentil stuffing in between each. The yogurt was the right consistency, the flavour was further enhanced with the sweet salty tamarind chutney.
Location: 1396 Chandni Chowk - Opp. Parathe Wali Gali. Narrow alley out of the metro in to Chandni Chowk, as you come out its there on the corner. Ask if lost - he is famous.
The Delights of Parathe Wali Gali
- Jai Hind Parawtha Chavan - 4.5 (Parathas), 2.5 (Veggies and chutneys)
Yup, all the different types of parathas. Something for everyone. Banana paratha anyone?
We got 3 the Radish, Peas and Cauliflower Parathas.
Pt. Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan - 3.0 (Parathas), 4.5 (Veggies and chutneys)
- Parathas - This is a flat bread made with whole wheat flour. That is usually cooked with a few spoons of ghee (clarified butter). However here they take it to the next level and deep fry it in ghee! Can be eaten plain or stuffed with just about anything. Heart attacks aside, these parathas were delicious. Normally I prefer them a little lighter, one I couldnt take to the park and toss around but I guess that is how they do it in these streets. What I liked was the freshness and generosity of the stuffing, well seasoned with salt and spices.
- All parathas were accompanied with (clockwise from left of paratha):
- Pickled radish and chilly - Best option with the parawtha. You will soon know why.
- Dry spicy potato - Too much garam masala. And masalas tasted uncooked.
- Imli chutney with banana - Honestly I'm not a big fan of the over ripe banana flavour in my chutney.
- Thin gravy potato - Was too salty and eh just not so tasty.
- Coriander chutney - This was quite gross. Tasted like drain water.
- Overall I thought the parathas here were awesome and the accompaniments were really lacking! Sigh, cruel twisted world. Cant I have it all??
- We ordered the same 3 parathas to keep it consistent. Peas, Radish and Cauliflower (which we never got but a mixed one instead). I wouldnt have complained if it wasn't for the mediocre parathas. As you might be able to tell they've been to the depth of hell's fires and back. Over fried is one thing and then you are going to be stingy with the stuffing too? Where is the respite?
- Accompaniments. Here it is! Every single thing was delicious. Compensating for the parathas i guess. Starting from right of paratha clockwise:
- Sweet Tamarind Chutney - without bananas - yay! And delicious, none of that neon colour, that synthetic taste. Just pure goodness
- Thin gravy potato and peas. Solid
- Coriander Chutney. Had the right balance between salty, sour and spicy. Good stuff.
- Pumpkin - Sweet, spicy delicious.
- Pickled radish and chilly - Of course the one good accompaniment at the other place is the one bad one here. Mirror mirror?
- Dry spicy Potato - Just the way you'd want it.
- Someone really must be playing a sick joke on me because here the parathas were not all that great but the accompaniments were dee-liscious! So either you pick you battles or get parathas from next door and enjoy it with the vegetables and chutneys from here. Why settle when you can have it all I say!
Location: Parathe wali gali. Get to chandni chowk and ask its a small side street off it.
Dil Pasand Biryani Point - Mohd. Toaufiq - 3.5
Finally some meat!! So I was trying to find another place but that did not matter. Because this is where I was pointed to by most and this is where I landed up! Not a total waste. They serve only buff (buffalo) biryani. You know it was almost really good the rice was nicely flavoured each grain stood tall by itself not mushing into another. The meat was super tender but this is where it got a little iffy, it had a slightly unwelcoming taste. Once that was in my head I couldnt get past it. No I didnt waste the whole thing! I ate around the meat, happily gobbling each little grain of rice.
Location: 735 Haveli Azam Khan. Chitli Qabar, Jama Masjid
Kala/Kaley Baba ke Kebab - 3.8
- Again we found this place with a lot of people nudging us to go try along our walk. I'm glad we did. When I asked him what they have he said only buff "yaha peh chicken wicken nahi milega" (you wont get chicken or anything other than beef here). Who's complaining, because I can get "chicken wicken" just about anywhere. They offer buff seekhs or buff tikkas. We obviously got both.
- Lets dig in. Start with a generous squeeze of lemon. Now the Seekh Kebabs were definitely special. They were so soft and tender that they had to be held by a string that went around the entire kebab. It was delicious. But if you dont have an iron mouth and stomach like I, then dont tread where you may never pass through. He really just went all out with the chilly. I mean this stuff is ridiculously hot.
- Buff Tikka - So the main problem was that there were more like buff fat tikkas than the actual meat. But once you did manage to find a morsel or two. It was tender, no strange unwanted smells and tastes, thankfully. Was not as unbearably spicy either. Call me a sucker for punishment but I did still prefer the seekh.
Location: Walk down Chitli Qabar make a right just after the juice guy. Think its Suiwalan the roads name. Just ask that how we found it . And half the fun is getting lost. I hope you dont.
Bade Mian's Kheer - 5.0
This was really the highlight of this trip. Bade Mian is obviously very use to fame, he indulged us with many a pose between many a tale. A proud man because he knows what he has is the best kheer (sweet rice pudding) in town. He told us that the secret to his kheer is the slow cooking process of 6 hours over a wooden flame. Most kheer I have ever eaten has been whitish, well this was definitely not like most kheer I've eaten. I assumed its browny colour came from jaggery but he corrected me by saying he uses normal sugar. The hours of cooking seems to have caramelized all the sugar to create this beautiful golden brown crust on top. Much thicker than its counterparts Bade Mian's Kheer is really what legends are made of.
Labels: Biryani, Chaat, Old Delhi