Monday, January 31, 2011

Vrindavan ki Tikki

I agree, one goes to Vrindavan to visit the temples, to pay homage, to get rid of their sins: but if there is sinful bliss available right in the heart of Vrindavan, shouldn we just follow it as 'The Path' and basically indulge.

Well thats what my heart said, and my tummy, when in Vrindavan ki galliyaan....

I immediately fell in love with this place when i was offered fresh ' Safed Makkhan' (white butter) as the Prasad in the temple... what nice ppl... :)

Well as we walked out, we couldnt resist the look of shops filled from top to bottom with pedas and burfis... who could resist them... they literally screamed... "come for me".

But after sooooooo much of sweetness we so needed somethin non sweet... We came across a shop that sold tikki chholey... we really dint think that this mere potato dumpling and completely mashed up green pea stuff would blow our minds away...

Every tikki that i have ever had.. and trust me i've had many.... should bow down to the one in Vrindavan... its a sin worth commiting... Its crispness taken to another level. The three humble ingredients being potatoes, curd and arrowroot...

When i was a kid, i would rip the tikki apart, eat allthe crispy edges and leave the sticky potatoey inside for anyone esle interested. Here i had the entire thing.

The chutneys are outstanding... be it the khajur ki chutney, or the pudina- dhaniya chutney... since we're in Vrindvan there is no usage of garlic or onion, but a hint of asafoetida does the trick. I so now agree of it being an aphrodasiac.

Though i'm not a very big fan of the chholey that they serve here in Delhi; personal taste; but the green pea mash here in Vrindavan was spectacular. The right amount of spices and the Hing( asafoetida)............... God help me... Dramatic.

Vrindavan is so on my cullinary trips now.

Where: Vrindavan Ki galliyaan
When: All thru the day
How Much: Rs. 20 a plate. ( You could easily gobble 3)

keema samosa

in the fourteenth century, one would have found them in the sultans court. loved and respected by the sultan and his courtiers.

i had read about them in the books, but always thought of them to be fictitious characters like the fiery dragons and the hobbits.

somewhere in a book last year i read that "keema samosas" are yet not extinct they are just endangered, you can spot them around the jama masjid (chandni chowk) at times in the evening.

hadn't been so lucky to find one, asked a few people with no satisfactory answers.

finally one day during Ramazan as i stepped out of jama masjid right outside the gate i could hear some shouting " कीमा समोसा पांच रूपए के दो " i could not believe my years but as i followed the voice i had to believe my eyes.

yes! it is true sumptuous samosas stuffed with keema and dhaniya chutney are available outside jama masjid.

as i had my first bite of those samosas only i know how myths turned into reality.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Luck by chance ( Adarsh Vegetarian )

Plans went wrong.
PLAN 1: parathewali gali- too crowded. a waiting of atleast 15-20mins. too hard to handle our hunger.
PLAN 2: fatehpuri area- mostly closed on a sunday i guess. only some sweets were available. we need to have a full meal.

Net Result:
two hungry guys
We chanced to stop by and have some super sweet rabri from roadside vendor. 2 good things happened.
1) the sugar kick made sure we survive for the next few minutes
2) the rabri guy suggested us to hop across the road for to get our lunch

Across the road in the not so narrow lane was Aadarsh Vegetarian. surely it didn't look like one of the joints for which we come all the way to Chandni Chowk. it was not one of those who may have a heritage dating back to the days of the Mughals or maybe of a more recent date like that of the Britishers. well this one had nothing to boost about in those sense. lets be real we can't wait for this restaurant to grow old. we need to have something on our plates right now as in RIGHT NOW. and we walked into this modest restaurant. nothing to be talked about the interiors or the other customers around, everything is just as regular as it could be.

adarsh vegetarian
we asked for the menu in return we where directed towards the cash counter to pay before we eat. there was nothing like a menu. simple thali system. and soon after paying infront of us landed little katoris (bowls) and a big thali. one by one the katoris got filled up accompanied by parathas followed by tawa rotis (layered in ghee) and then rice. the quantity and sequence can be of your choice. get as much as you want as whatever you want, refills are encouraged. the spread was not too wide, but well prepared.

the thali

THE SPREAD: Aloo Capsicum (Shimla Mirch) + Dal + Mungoori + Lauki ka Koofta + Kheer + Papad + Rice + Roti + Aalo/Paneer Paratha + Chutni + Neembu

What made me fall in love with the food was it's non-spicy, non-oily character. i have a long list of stuff i love to eat in purani dilli, but seldom have i come across food which i can manage to have day after day, food which may not threaten my digestive system. well here is one such thing.
a thali which i may not remember for long, as it lack those typical dilli flavours, what it has is the flavour of home cooked food. a plain simple thali which is probably the everyday meal for the nearby shop keeper. maybe one day some other hungry guy gets lucky to land up at Adarsh Vegetarian.

Where: Aadarsh Vegetarian, 483, haider Kuli Corner, Main Chandni Chowk
When: opens at 10:30 (i would say lunch time is ideal)
What you pay: Rs.100/- for unlimited refills

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chaina Ram ki Jai ho

Today hunger took me to Chaina Ram's Sweet Shop (famous for it's karachi halwa) more than a century old shop right next to Fatehpuri Masjid, Delhi.
The smoky little joint doesn't give an impression of it's sitting facility, inside the smoky screen are a few tables and chairs where one can sit and comfortably munch.
The... wait was not to long to get our Chole Bhature. The nice, crispy and oily Bhature's were served followed by the Chole. Definitely the recipe was somewhat different from the regular Delhi Chole-Bhature on the look of it. Soon i had my first bite of this yummy stuff. The Bhatura's where not bland like most of the other places and the Chole had a bit of a gravy not the regular dry version.
The whole place was still having a low hanging smoky cloud which was smelling of the Bhature itself. Everybody around us was busy having their probably first meal of the day. The amount of people ordering Chole-Bhature was sign of Chaina Ram's excellence in making of Chole-Bhature.


where: Chaina Ram, next to fatehpuri masjid, chandni chowk, delhi, new delhi
when: anytime i guess
price: Rs 40/- (two bhatures and portion of chole)



One of the good things the winters in Delhipresent is the mesmerizing Daulat-ki-chaat. Although I am not too sure whether it originated in Delhi or not but I am sure that anyone who eats this once, will simply fall in love with it.

As the name suggests, this is no ordinary road side food but rich and creamy local dessert that leaves you yearning for more. Just head to the streets of Purani Dilli, just next to Kinari Bazaar in the peak of winters and experience this scrumptious delicacy.

The roadside stories doing the rounds suggest that the cream is set to stay in the open during the cold wintery nights. After a thin layer of dew drops add the magic, it is carefully skimmed away from the cream and is mixed with a bit of the local sugar or jaggery and served to the connoisseur. Surely, the creamy delicacy is a gift from heavens.

The way the dish is prepared, is probably why it is called a Chaat, but I am telling you, the taste is just beyond words to describe. Light as if it was cotton, it simply melts in your mouth leaving behind a flavor you will simply never forget. Even though its made of cream, you will not feel thetypical heaviness after eating such a rich concoction.

Where: Near Kinari Bazaar Area, Chandni Chowk, Delhi, New Delhi
When: Peak winters only
What price: Rs. 20/-
Grub Recommendation: Two plates per person is all that one can eat. Have some parathas at the Parathewaali Gali, followed by Daulat-ki-chaat.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bilal ki Nihari

Not many a things, I believe, are worth getting up at 5 in the morning for. Well there is this one thing that not only makes me wake up early but also leaves me dreaming the whole night. Nihari.

First and foremost I gotta thank with immense amount of love in my heart and gratitude: the Delhi Metro. For bringing Purani dilli so so close to Gurgaon. My lips curl into a smile, my eyes have a twinkle and my tummy roars.

It aint only bout the Nihari, (though my tummy disagrees) it's the entire experience. The journey, the people it makes u meet, the places it makes you reach, a whole different world that u get to see, and that sudden change that it brings about in you. We've been visiting purani dilli for the Nihari for a long time now, a few years for me since I got introduced to the Nihari, I refer to it with such respect coz its not just a mere dish served in the oldest lanes of Delhi, it’s a tradition, it’s got its own history, it's part of a culture. Its not just food, it's just something else. The fact that u wont get it in restaurants in the city only makes it more mysterious.

In very simple words a Nihari is nothing but a stew. Nihari comes from the Arabic word "Nahar" which means day. I think it's because it can get you thru the entire day.

It originally referred to a beef stew, and we hope that it is still available in Pakistan. But we mere souls here inDelhi have to suffice with either mutton Nihari or at the most a buff (buffalo) variation. The meat is cooked on a slow fire for hours together so as to not only get the spices running all through the meat also to make sure that the meat literally melts in your mouth. The actual ingredients and spices have always been kept a secret and also do vary from family to family which is proven from the fact that even though every fifth shop (if not third) serves their variation of Nihari in the Matia mahal Bazaar of Chandni chowk, each one has their own distinct flavor.

So we decided to get you a taste of a few of them. We started with the tiniest in the lane. Bilal.

""Bade ka khana na chahogay? Zyada dur nahi dus baara dukaane chhod Bilal pe chale jao"

" Shukriya Janaab"

Its strange how one starts to talk differently when in the by lanes of Purani dilli. How easy it becomes to talk to people in there, to ask directions, and how wonderful a reaction one gets when food becomes the topic of discussion.

Striding past Kareem and Jawahar, as if we had found our calling we entered into the humble corner of Bilal. Chairs and table enough for you to squeeze yourself into them had no relevance in front of the freshly baked khameeri roti

and the meaty aroma. All I could see were the mounds of chopped green chili and sliced ginger waiting to be strewn over the plate that was to have the privilege of having the Nihari served in it.

The Nihari at Bilal is robust and very well spiced. Not for the weak at heart. It literally opens up all your senses, and talks' serious business. Once it hits your tongue you feel this amazing rush and you instantly realize why this is a morning meal. One portion of the same and you are fully pumped up to take on anything during the day. It's strange when you think that this was the food of the Muslim elite and is now available to us mere mortals only because of the decline of the Mughal Empire.

Unlike the Nihari at Kareem and Jawahar, Bilal sells the Bade ki (Buff) Nihari. The meat determines the flavor of the Nihari to quite a level. Since the Buff is quite a tough meat, it does require longer cooking which, I believe, ends up making the gravy quite flavorsome. The fresh flavor of Javetri though heavily masked by the excessive use of chili was still apparent. The Nihari here is pretty thick (viscous), which I ended up enjoying a lot. The meat here is not really 'melt in the mouth' but that’s also because of the use of buff which, as I said earlier, is a tough meat. Though it did shred to pieces at the touch of the khameeri roti. The roti I would not say was much worth mentioning. But that dint stop me from using the last piece of roti to polish the plates up of the remaining stew.

For me Bilal was a thumps up and even while leaving the place all I could think of was when can I do this again…..

Where: Matia Mahal, Chandni Chowk, Delhi, New Delhi
When: Early morning between 6am and 9am
Price: Rs 46/- (1 plate of Nihari and 2 Khameeri rotis)