The delayed onset of Delhi winters had Skeety huffing and puffing, till she got a call from a friend who wanted Skeety to take a few friends on an Old Delhi trip. Skeets only likes going to Old Delhi alone, so this was a first of its kind trip. It brought much needed cheer and we were soon walking past Red Fort and entering Old Delhi. Though Skeeter did not have much time to plan this one, but she tried to make the visitors take back with them some happy Delhi food memories.
At the first halt, we had bedmi puri and a spicy aloo sabzi with a tangy, crunchy instant carrot pickle, kachoris at the mouth of Kinari Bazaar. Old marwari delicacies, these. No onions and garlic are used in the preparation of food in marwari/Jain households and yet it is so appealing to the taste buds. We proceeded to have kesar pista milk (we Delhiites call it bottle wala doodh), which is boiled with nuts and saffron and then chilled and poured into the classic old (recycled) bottles. Moving on, we had some fabled "banta" or lemon soda from the very famous Ved Prakash lemon wale. The bottle here again is iconic. Skeets read a story about the banta bottle here and would love to share it with the readers and especially Anita (the mastermind of the trip), Nandini & Ajit, Manisha who were with Skeeter on the trip.
At the onset of winter, most residents of North India begin stocking on their favourite revris and gajjak. These are sesame seed and jaggery brittle preparations (some call them nut bars/energy bars) in various shapes, sizes and flavours that keep you going when the winters unleash their cruelty. They are healthy when had in small quantities per day and well, keep you warm and going. We get ones with peanut too! Some have rose petals thrown in and others have pistachio or cardamom and other spices. You get to choose your flavour but all of them have a distinct taste that keeps your craving another bite. Inside Kinari bazaar, there are two shops that stock gajjak from Meerut. We stopped and bought our share before proceeding to the famous paranthe wali gali. We met Khemchand, the Daulat ki Chat guy on our way and everyone loved it. Manisha who had "seen" it on on of her earlier visits, got to taste it as well! You can read more about it here
Ajit really was in the mood to sample some paranthas and none of the party wanted them, but we stood by him, and helped him polish off his paranthas. He got a little shock when the parantha people told him he cannot order a single parantha. He had to order minimum of two! He observed many a things there, one them being that they "actually use shuddh ghee" in Old Delhi. He was amazed to see large cannisters of shuddh ghee or clarified butter being poured out for use. Here's some more of his observation in his words, "Lot of the base items (paranthe, bedmi puri etc) by themselves were mild (little seasoning). But when you have them with the accompaniments, they're heavenly." He observed this as he got spicy aloo sabji and instant carrot pickle with bedmis. Also, with his deep fried, artery clogging paranthas, he got Aloo matar sabji, pumpkin or kaddu sabji, meethi chutney with slices of banana, khatti chutney, some more instant carrot pickle! His Sunday was definitely made!
It was our turn now, as Ajit wiped his hands and we went across the road for Natraj Dahi bhalle and some HOT aloo tikkis. Skeeter feels the Natraj Dahi bhalle have lost their old glamour, taste and quality, nevertheless they were soft and appetizing. The HOT aloo tikkis made Skeeter's Sunday.
So while our stomachs were begging for mercy (no more food please), we went to Ballimaran to see the celebrated poet, Ghalib's haveli. On our way we stopped for some shakarkandi chaat (sweet potatoes tossed with a tangy masala and some lemon). What is a visit to Old Delhi in winters without sampling some of it. Nandini hit childhoood nostalgia on having it and told us how it was a common breakfast treat for her as a child and how we take such delicacies for granted and later, grow up to blog about them. Eh Nandini?! :-) On our way back we tried some Tiwari ke laddoo, some kulfi falooda and even packed some assorted savouries and Daulat ki Chaat for unaccompanying family members.
And last but not the least, thank you for what I call my baksheesh :D