Holy Food Trail: Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, New Delhi

My association with religious places begins and ends with food. Every religious faith has its own way of feeding the hungry but langar – a practice common to Sufi Chisthi and Sikh traditions remains special for several reasons. People across faiths, and backgrounds are invited to sit and eat a hot piping vegetarian meal in regular intervals. The hot piping meal comes from a community run free kitchen housed in Gurudwaras. Sikh-langar, or free community kitchen draws upon earlier Sufi Chisthi practices where people across faiths could eat hot cooked meals in Dargahs. Harsh Mander in an article “From langar, with love” ( The Hindu, 12 January 2013) draws our attention to etymology of the word ‘langar’ which in Persian means a feeding centre and a resting place for travellers. He mentions of the round the clock kitchens run by Nizamuddin Auliya Chisti – a sufi saint.

???????????????????????????????

Langar’ or any communal eating practices are particularly relevant in India as several registers of taboo prohibited people across caste groups to consume food together. Under such proscriptions, ‘langar’ as a free community kitchen challenges that social order. Though there have been reports of segregated spaces for homeless  in Gurudwaras across Delhi, the spirit of ‘langar’ needs to be uphold in the right spirit. With shrinking public spaces which are accessible to all, the idea of a free community kitchen accessible to all remains special.  My initiation to langar meal began in an all girls trip to Golden Temple of Amritsar and to this date I remember the fast pace and grace with which thousands of us consumed meal. The synchronised service between the kitchen staff and volunteers distributing food in the dining hall left me awestruck. A trip to Golden Temple of Amritsar will remain incomplete without an experience of langar. Closer home, Delhi, a langar at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in Connaught Place runs a langar at regular intervals.

Easily accessible via Patel Chowk Metro Station on Yellow line, the Gurudwara is teaming with devotees on a Sunday afternoon. As you make your way through the entrance you will be asked to leave your shoes at the shoe counter.

???????????????????????????????

A visit to Bangla Sahib as it is popularly addressed remains incomplete without the karah prasad. Walk up to the counter on the left buy your coupons starting from Rs 11 to whatever you wish to offer and walk up to the counter to offer some and relish the karah prasad. The generous dollops of ghee holds the whole wheat flour, sugar and ghee together. Check a fellow blogger’s link for the recipe.

After a tour of holy shrine, sarovar head to the langar to not only have a lovely vegetarian meal of piping hot rotis, parathas, dal, vegetable curry and lovely kheer ( rice pudding) but also to offer voluntary service at the community kitchen.

people eating

People across age groups ( from old and young ) make rotis and serve the devotees across faith who walk in queues for langar meals. As the devotees return their steel plates and another batch of people wait near the door to walk in, volunteers sweep the floor and welcome people in. Every partake of langar be it in Amritsar or here is an experience to be cherished.

If you are in Delhi or planning your next weekend halt, drop by at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib for a meal at langar, and karah prasad.

Check out the following link on karah prasad

http://a-hint-of-spice.blogspot.in/2010/03/karah-prashad.html; Accessed on 23 November 2014.

Other links and references on Langar and Gurudwara Bangla Sahib

For Harsh Mander’s article please click on http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/Harsh_Mander/from-langar-with-love/article4294049.ece; Accessed on 23 November 2014.

And of course, The Delhiwalla for all matters related to the city…

http://www.thedelhiwalla.com/2012/02/01/city-monument-gurudwara-bangla-sahib-central-delhi/; Accessed on 23 November 2014

©itiriti

Unwind over Rampuri delicacies @ Rampur Kitchen, New Friends Colony.

After a hiatus, I present itiriti readers a place tucked away on the first floor of the India Mall, New Friends Colony Community Centre which I want to rename as a paradise of kebabs. For all those in Delhi, and for all of us who love kebabs, our share of  succulent mutton pieces in an aromatic gravy, time to settle for Rampur Kitchen, New Friends Colony community Centre. Last year, I was introduced to this place by Vi and Sa. Four of us trekked down to New Friend’s Colony, a place etched in my memory since college days for serving the best Shawarma (Al Bake) for Rs 20. The place has a neat, comfortable seating arrangement for a leisurely meal for family dinners, and quiet lunch and dinners as well.

“Rampur kitchen”, true to its name offers some of the prized dishes from Rampur. Where is Rampur? Not far away from Delhi it boasts of a royal past which cascades into its cuisine and it is a place known for the knives, as a centre for arts and academics, distilleries and much more. Anoothi Vishal in a piece “Royal Rampuri cuisine, a blend of Delhi’s Mughlai tradition and Avadhi food” (The Economic Times, 3 November 2013)1  points out that this court cuisine is a melting pot of Mughlai, Afghani, Avadhi and Rajput influence after it became a stable princely state when the Nawab sided with the British following the revolt of 1857. Rampuri cuisine, Anoothi Vishal points out is known for taar qorma, shambhal ke sheekh, home style urad gosht and lauki gosht.

In my introductory visit to Rampur kitchen Sa convinced me to order qorma. Dreading the overpowering smell of spices and the rich thick gravy that one associates with qorma, I decided to skip it. Sa ordered the qorma and when it arrived I polished it almost half of the qorma. Taar qorma a speciality of the region can be eaten when the weatherboards read 48 degree Celsius. The succulent mutton chunks in a nice rich gravy with a right amount of bite and balance of texture without an overpowering smell of the garam masala has become rare even in specialty restaurants. Taar qorma remains a favourite from the first visit and I never get tired of eating this dish. I would recommend you to order half a plate of taar qorma and I assure you will fall in love with it as much as I have.

What about starters? Hang on! There are ample choices. For kebab fanatics there is a wonderful chapli kebab. You can get an imagined sensual treat from Anoothi’s article, but you have to taste the chapli kebab with the slightly spiced mint dip. Kakori kebab tastes heavenly and galauti melts in your mouth. My favourites and recommendations for starters would remain galauti kebab rolls. The star of this roll/ wrap is the ulte tawa ki paratha which is sweet in texture and complements the mildly spiced galauti kebab which true to its fame melts in your mouth. The wrap is a mouthful of spices and the creamy light green dip adds the perfect kick start to your meal. The best part of the Rampuri food is the right balance of spices and the treatment of the spices and Rampuri kitchen lives up to that in its treatment of spices and texture.

Thankfully, neither the gravies nor the dips look or taste the same. Each of the dishes evokes a confluence of cultures and synthesis of varied culinary traditions which is a product of people’s mobility. The best food emerges as a confluence of traditions and Rampuri cuisine’s attraction lies in its ability to embrace varied traditions. This, in a way urges us to rethink of culinary traditions as torchbearers of our identity politics and instead treat it as a melting pot of varied cultures.

  1. For details visit Vishal, Anoothi.2013. “Royal Rampuri cuisine, a blend of Delhi’s Mughlai tradition and Avadhi food” The Economic Times, 3 November 2013. http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-11-03/news/43611823_1_cuisine-taar-qorma; Accessed on 9 June 2014.

Cost for two: 2 starters, one main course and rotis ( 900 INR)

For address and menu visit

http://www.zomato.com/ncr/rampur-kitchen-new-friends-colony-delhi; Accessed on 9 June 2014.

 

©itiriti

Spring feast over Qawali and Kebabs

As we approach the end of Winter Chill in Delhi it’s time to indulge amidst all the impending deadlines. As I write this post, the calendar and the deadlines that I have marked in bold stares at me with a mocking grin. Writing wishes feed into birthday wishes and much more. If you want to take a break from writing woes, take a break.  Such re-assurances are rare, and to steal a bright sunny MONDAY afternoon for such plans are some luxuries of being a student.

Last Monday afternoon, some of us decided to visit the newly renovated Humayun’s Tomb. Various sections of the historic Humayun’s Tomb have been renovated, restored in patches, blocks and columns. Aga Khan Trust for Culture’s team took six years to restore the complex and for more details on restoration work please read http://www.thedelhiwalla.com/2013/09/16/city-monument-restored-ruin-humayuns-tomb/. After a tour of the historic Humayun’s Tomb, we decided to walk down to the Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah (the shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, 14th C Sufi Saint). We had heard and read about the Basant celebrations at the Dargah. As we reached the Dargah dressed in our yellow clothes we realised that the celebrations have been shifted to the day of Basant Panchami.

Nevertheless, we were treated to wonderful qawali renditions by the qawals of the Dargah. Basant Panchami at the Dargah is a synthesthetic treat.  Poet Amir Khusro, whose grave lies at the complex had worn yellow to bring a smile to his beloved Hazrat Nizamuddin who was grieving after his nephew’s death. The tradition has continued and on this day, the qawals sing poems of Khusro. The spring festival of the Dargah is a visual treat as people are dressed in yellow and the mustard flowers and marigold flowers are offered at the shrine. For more details on Basant festivities at the Dargah visit http://www.thedelhiwalla.com/2011/02/08/city-season-%E2%80%93-the-basant-people-hazrat-nizamuddin-dargah/.  Do not miss the newly restored Mirza Ghalib’s Tomb on your way into the Dargah.

After the qawali, some of us headed back and some of swarmed through the serpentine lane and made our way to Ghalib Kebab Corner. Do not be misled with the poetic connection in the signboard.  It is named after Ghalib road that connects to the poet’s tomb.

The Signboard Photo : Hoda Bandeh- Ahmadi

The Signboard
Photo : Hoda Bandeh- Ahmadi

The signboard of the Ghalib Kebab Corner read that it had won the best kebab in the kebab festival hosted by Hotel Maurya Sheraton. Established in 1971, this place is a kebab lover’s delight. Apart from Paneer tikka and Paneer Tikka Roll, there are no vegetarian options here. The shop has a modest seating arrangement with six tables and benches and as soon as you enter you will be spoiled for choices with the cook spreading out mincemeat mix along the skewers… It is an appetizing scene in chilly winter evening.

The man behind the scenes Photo: Siddhi Bhandari

The man behind the scenes
Photo: Siddhi Bhandari

We settled for Beef Kebab Rolls, mutton shammi kebab, beef kebab and Sheer Mal.

Beef Kebab Rolls  Photo : Hoda Bandeh-Ahmadi

Beef Kebab Rolls
Photo : Hoda Bandeh-Ahmadi

The juicy kebabs rolled like a wrap in romali roti melted in our mouth, the mutton shammi kebab had a lovely spicy touch to the mincemeat and the sheer mal added the perfect sweet touch to every bite of spicy shammi kebab… A treat and must visit!!!!

Sheermal and Beef Kebab Photo: Siddhi Bhandari

Sheermal and Beef Kebab
Photo: Siddhi Bhandari

The kebabs are priced between Rs 50 to Rs 100. Some of our friends recommended Mutton Qurma  but itiriti recommends you to try out their Beef Kebab Roll, Mutton Shammi Kebab and Sheermal. I am definitely going back for a lunch / dinner treat after I finish my chapter. So in case you are yet to plan your weekend stopover at Ghalib Kebab Corner for kebab treats!

——————————————————————————————

Address: Ghalib Kebab Corner

Shop No : 57, Near Lal Mahal, Ghalib Road, Hazrat Nizamuddin, New Delhi-110013. Phone: 9810786479.

Nearest Metro Station to Nizamuddin: Jungpura ( on violet Line)

——————————————————————————————

©itiriti

Unwinding with litti, taas kebab and more @ Street Food Festival organised by NASVI

Do you want to unwind a busy day with piping hot crab curry with steamed rice in a chilly winter evening in Delhi without leaving a hole in your pocket? If you like to savour street food and looking for some delectable items from across India head to National Association of Street Vendors of India’s (NASVI) Street Food Festival which has opened yesterday in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Premises.

NASVI has been championing the rights of street food vendors and has been instrumental in campaigning for the Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill, 2012 which was recently passed in parliament.  (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/a-historic-day-for-street-vendors/article5103508.ece) NASVI has been instrumental in bringing to the capital’s food lovers street food across India for the second consecutive year. The street food festival has brought together street foods from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Punjab and Rajasthan for a three day extravaganza – a treat to city’s food lovers.

Last afternoon J, C, M and I trekked down to the street food festival.  We started our food trail with ghee pulao and chicken curry from the Kerala stall. The long grains of rice coated with ghee and the tender succulent chicken cooked neatly wrapped with spices to beat off Delhi chill was a perfect start to the street food trail.  The creamy raita (beaten and seasoned yoghurt) with a mix of  onion, cucumber and green chillies blended well with the ghee soaked rice and spicy chicken.  And all for RS 100/-A perfect start for the hungry souls!

edit2

Our next stop was Moong Dal Chilha with a filling of spicy potato and paneer (Rs 50). Personally I am not a paneer fan but the Moong Dal wrap seemed like the perfect snack, lunch item.

edit1

Served with mint and coriander chutney and tangy sauce this truly took me by surprise. I strongly recommend you to try this!

edit 3

We thought of taking a break and stopped by to see a roller ice-cream machine at work. Though the texture of the ice-cream was nice, the rose essence put me off. If you like rose essence and want some fresh ice-cream (Rs 50) being churned out you can give it a try.

edit5

Then we headed to the award winning team of Chicken 65 to spice up our taste buds. If you are a fan of fried chicken with no frills, you are bound to fall in love with this layered dish of crispness at the first bite, juicy spices at the second and then it melts into your mouth.  Chicken 65 is a perfect accompaniment with a steaming cup of chai or “spirits” as well. So if you are planning to throw a pre-Christmas  party tomorrow, pack some Chicken 65 from this stall or pack yourself a treat to unwind a weekend evening.

edit7

Next stop was Litti- Mutton. To my mind, NASVI’s street food festival has brought out the best of Bihar’s street food to the capital’s food lovers.

litti

This time, street food festival has three stalls from Bihar, one serving Litti- Mutton and Litti- Chokha and the second serving Litti –Chicken and Litti-Chokha. We treated ourselves into piping hot littis with dollops of ghee from both these stalls. And even got it packed. If you are a garlic fan try Litti Mutton. The mutton curry has a fainting fragrance of mustard cooked with whole garlic soft with the spices … it leaves you yearning for more. Must Try !

edit5

The sattu mix of the Litti –Mutton was a little bland compared to Litti-Chokha we had from the stall serving Litti- Chicken.  The mix had the perfect blend of mustard oil and pickles. My  mouth waters as I recall the taste…  Pack yourself a box of  Litti – Chokha if you are full with Litti- Mutton. After our litti trail we decided to take a break.

edit65

We thought  of taking a break and headed for our evening chai ( tea). After a chai– break we headed for Chura with Taas Kebab from Motihari ( East Champaran) which reminded me of  buff kebab, spiced chana served with chura in streets of Kathmandu.

edit88

The tender, soft pieces of chicken kebab served with crisp chura brought me back memories of my lunch on Kathmandu streets and unveil a completely different side of Bihari street food. I don’t recall tasting Chura with Taas Kebab in last year’s food festival so this was a welcome surprise.

edit44

Finally we waited for half an hour chatting away to wait for our friends from Odisha to dish out a crab curry and rice (Rs 180).  If you are self-proclaimed crab lover you have to use your hands to scoop out the crab meat from the claws which carried a faint heat of the spices in the light gravy. Though the seasoning could have been a little better, we loved it…

I was a little disappointed with my home turf – West Bengal which is known for its street food starting from rolls, chop to rice meals.  The West Bengal stall had varieties of fish and rice. I wish winter varieties of ghugni and peas kachori with alur dom was there. For sweet lovers there is a stall fom West Bengal serving date palm jaggery sweets and Assam stall serving pithas.

Other than these, there there is a grand spread from Maharastra, Bhopal, Tamil Nadu which we failed to explore.  Starting from Makki Roti to mirchi pakora, there are ample choices for lunch, evening snack or dinner. So beat the winter chill with street food festival.

Till then happy eating !

Photo : Jyoti Gupta

Important tips

How to reach : Nearest Metro Station – JLN Stadium on Violet Line ( Central Secretariat-Badarpur). Get out from Gate No.3 (Exit) and JLN stadium is round the corner.

Entry Fee: Rs 30. You can even buy coupons online else from the ticket counters at the entrance of JLN stadium.

Payment by coupons:  Stock yourself with cash as they do not accept cards. There are lots of coupon counters so buy coupons when you need them.

Date : 20-22 December 2013

Check NASVI’s fb page https://www.facebook.com/Nasviindia?fref=ts.

©itiriti

Feasting @ Mela (Fair) grounds…

Anybody who has grown up in the city of joy and has been a regular in the mela (fair) circuit will fondly remember the line of food stalls that adorned these fairs.  Most of us who had been to book fairs in Maidan area before it shifted to Milan Mela ( opposite Science City) would remember queuing up for their favourite Benfish products at Book fair.  After I finished my quota of buying books, I hated waiting with my parents at UBI auditorium listening to panel discussions or dragging my feet along with their snail paced stroll around the little magazine stalls. My mother sensing my irritation would whisper into my ears that the Benfish stall is another 5 min walk and I would cheer up. Reminiscing about childhood and Kolkata book fair another blogger proudly announced to a T.V reporter that she came to book fair for ice-cream.

Read her post http://roadtoneverland.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/why-i-dont-love-books/ as she fondly shares her experience.

Similarly I never missed a trip to the Durga Puja at Park Circus Maidan, Kolkata for the sheer joy of attending a mela(fair).  What I love about Durga Puja in Chittaranjan Park, Delhi are the food stalls. The variety of food that one gets to gorge on is a pure delight for an epicurean.  In Delhi, Bijoli Grill had replaced my craving for Benfish products.  I made it a point to call up Bijoli Grill to figure out their stall. I wish Bijoli Grill served their ice-cream soda.

This Puja I am looking forward to an interesting stall called Bento Bong. As its facebook page claims, the idea of the stall stemmed from a lazy lunch of friends and transformed into a business venture.  Anumitra Ghosh Dastidar, who wears many a hats (linguist, photographer and a trained kitchen hand) is a one woman army.  As I jokingly remind her about the impending thesis submission she says Bento Bong will help her to put together her act. She takes out a sample of Bentobong box from her backpack and her eyes light up as she passionately weaves a tale of Bengali food that she will be cooking and serving along with two other helping hands. The meals will be served in handy boxes.

Kicking off on 9 October three Bento boxes will be available in the following combinations:-

Snack Bento – I ( Fish Fry, Veg Cutlet, French Heart Cookie, Salad, Kasundi) – Rs 120

Snack Bento –II ( Prawn Orley, Fish Fry, Veg Cutlet, French Heart Cookie, Salad, Kasundi)- Rs 180

Meal Bento ( Rice, Moong Dal, Bora, GaldaChingriMalaiCurry,DoiRui, Mishti Pan)- Rs 320

As she gives me a tour of the stall in Co-operative Ground, Chittaranjan Park explaining to me her plans, a surprise waits for me.  She asks for two chairs and we sit in the empty stall. She opens a flap and takes out a Bento Box . Anumitra says, “Try it out”.

I open the box with care and find a gift of “fish fry”- a nice generous fillet of fish coated with breadcrumbs sitting pretty in front of me. The juicy, moist pieces of fillet fill my mouth and secretly I yearn to taste the Meal Bento where my favourite GaldaChingrir Malai Curry – a prawn preparation in coconut milk will be served. I leave the Co-operative Ground with content and intention of getting back to try Bento Bong and other food stalls in the vicinity of Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi.

For more details and updates visit Bento Bong page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BB.bentobong).

©itiriti

 

Chop, Cutlet and More…

Today I met a friend briefly in the corridors of University. Commenting on my interests in life she wished me good bye with an exclamation Bhalo theko (Stay well) with Machh, Mishti and More (Fish, Sweets and More). She was recollecting about her latest trek to Chittaranjan Park Market from where she picked up Lal Shak ( a type of greens which we chop and cook with a tempering of garlic, ajwain and finish it off with a drizzle of poppy seeds. Please add garlic after you hear the crackling sound of dry red chilly!!!), Morola Machch/ Mola Carplet ( a finger –sized shape fish found in rivers, some varieties are also know as Gang- Morola and the explanation is its origins in the Ganges…) and much more. For Morola Recipes visit the following link

http://eso-bosho-ahare.blogspot.in/2012/06/morola-macher-jhal.html

Despite our mutual allergy of people calling us “Bongs”, the affection for all things seemingly Bengali gets more attractive when you move out of the comforts of home. After I shifted to Delhi I missed the chotomachch ( small sized fish) that I  hated as a kid.  As I long to go back home in a week’s time I look forward to a generous sized portions of all sorts of dishes that could be prepared with Morola Machch ( from fries, to mustard curry to chutney with tamarind pulp). Slurrrpp!!!

Such cravings for Bengali food and food items have led to niche markets in every city across India and particularly Delhi. Chittaranjan Park credits with selling food items, fish, vegetables, sauces, oils, spices and everything “authentic” that should make its way for a “Bengali” kitchen at an above average price. But we don’t seem to mind. After all phish, phood and phoodball are our passion(s) and we live by it…  Market No. 1 and Market No. 2 claims to house some of the popular eating joints serving Bengali food. I will dedicate a separate post on sweets and will list of must have/s of sn(e)cks in Market No. 1, 2 and 3. Spare me if I forget to add your list of favourite/s from these three Markets.

My five top picks

1. Maa Tara … (Market No.2)

Anybody who wanted their simple fare of veg and non veg thali or exotic vegetable dishes would brave waiting in the queue for a generous helping of Mochar Tarkari,  Fish Curry with a generous layer of oil staring at you and some runny alu posto. Despite its flaws I continue to adore and love the food of Maa Tara.  Every time you have surprise guests and you want to take a break from cooking chores “Dial Maa Tara” and they won’t disappoint you.

USP:  Simple, delicious and moderately priced.

2. Kolkata Biryani House (Market No.1)

Kolkata Biryani House: For all those who love meat, potato and egg in their Biryani, please try out their Biryani. Their Chicken and Mutton Rolls are good as well. Though they have started serving south Indian breakfast I have not tried it.

USP: Best Chicken/ Mutton Biryani. Warning : Do not order via Just eat. Last time they messed up an order at a friend’s place.

3. Ashirbad Caterers and Snack Corners( Market No.3)

Are you a fan of Fish Fry and Mochar Chop? Head to this shop where both these items are sold at Rs 10 each. This shop is open from 10am -11pm and sells rolls, cutlets and fries. My favourite picks are Fish Fry, Fish Chop, and Mochar chop. A party at my house is incomplete without Fish Fry and Mochar Chop. Manipuri Friend of mine treks down at least thrice a month to savour their delicacies. Need I say more!!!!! I am quite a fan of their simple egg rolls.

USP: Tasty and moderately priced.

4. Phuchka

Time and again I have wondered about how semolina is used to prepare this item in Northern India and  how atta ( wheat based flour) is used in West Bengal and Eastern parts of India to prepare this savoury dish. You will like Phucka across any C.R. Park stall if you like water prepared from tamarind pulp, green chillies, kagchi lebu ( a special variety of lemon). Best kick is the phucka with mashed potato stuffing with lots of tamarind pulp, green chillies and a squeeze of lime …. Yummmmm…

5. Tea

If you miss you Lemon Tea served in tiniest possible plastic cups back in West Bengal, head to a tea stall in Market No. 2 who makes the most amazing lemon tea with rocksalt and lime.

If you want all of these, you have to hit the den of Bengali food in New Delhi- Chittaranjan Park.

Nearest Metro Station : Hauz Khas  and Nehru Place.

Please memorise the market no.s you have to head before stepping into your vehicle as people use Market No./s for local navigation…

©itiriti

On a Nostalgic note: Re-tracing “Shagun” moments

Sometimes you don’t notice the obvious. Such is the way of life.  As I finished my meal at Shagun Restaurant a restaurant that has been witness to my many a hunger pangs, irritation, anger and happiness I wondered why it did not feature in my Eating Out Column.

For all those who are not familiar with the geography of North Campus, Delhi University Shagun Restaurant is located slightly ahead of Patel Chest.  My first meal in Shagun dates back to 2005 when Z had taken me there. The dimly lit restaurant did not impress me and I was comfortable enjoying my dinner in Zee’s Kitchen ( a restaurant offering cheap, greasy  tandoor food).

Cut to 2010 when Noodles ( a popular restaurant in Kamala Nagar) closed doors Z took me to Shagun and ordered for Pork Steamed Momos. As I took a bite into the juicy Momos I did my visual calculation of how many momos I should settle for and asked Z to order another plate.  I rediscovered Shagun.  Though the dim lights were still there I didn’t mind till I could savour my Pork Spare Ribs and Juicy Momos.  For a long time I kept on savouring their Pork Spare Ribs till Summer of 2012 when I fell in love with another dish Shanghai Stewed Noodles ( a gravy noodles dish mildly spiced).  There have been times when one has ordered some Burmese dishes and they didn’t disappoint me. Best part is one could walk down enjoy your lonely meal within Rs 150. What more do you need to enjoy a little luxury in the mundane Campus Life?

Shagun has been witness to many a campus romance, birthdays, breakups and lonely sad lunch and dinners. As every generation walk in and walk out of Shagun’s doors when you start leaving a generous tip and waiters ask you if anyone is going to join you that comes as a warning signal that you have been around in Campus for too long and it’s time to bid adieu.

As we enjoyed our evening meal of Chicken Momos, Pork Momos, Pork Pepper Chilly and Shanghai Stewed Noodles (all for Rs 825!!!!!) a group of college students were having their farewell meal. As they fought over two momos I remembered how I longed for restaurants to change their servings so that we could have equal shares and I would not have to wait for some generous soul to come to my rescue or how quickly we slipped into making wishes about handsome husband/ boyfriend before digging into the “last momo” on the plate. I am sure places like these exist in every campus.

So, all of those who want to savour delights available at Shagun you can choose from my favourite picks:-

  1. Chicken/Pork steamed Momos
  2. Pork Spare Ribs
  3. Shanghai Stewed Noodles (Non-Veg)
  4. Burmese Chicken Curry
  5. Mee- Goreng
  6. Chicken thentuk

Next time you are in Delhi University (North Campus) stop by this place.

For Menu, Location details check the following link on Zomato

 

http://www.zomato.com/ncr/shagun-vijay-nagar-delhi

 

©itiriti

 

Feasting during Durga Puja III

Today is Navami- practically the last day of the Puja. As a child I dreaded this day and to compensate for the end to the four days of fun and frolic I used to keep aside the best of the five dresses for the pandal hopping. Cut to 2012. One had heard that Chittaranjan Park (popularly known as C.R. Park) the Bengali neighbourhood puts on its festive colours during Durga Puja and I thought it would not be like Kolkata in terms of the crowd,the endless queues. Well, I was wrong.

If you are wondering that pandal hopping is an easy exercise in CR Park let me give you a word of caution. If you hate traffic, avoid travelling near 5km radius of C.R. Park. You might have to walk down. Its as simple as that. All the entry points to C.R. Park are barred and only vehicles with passes are allowed to enter and exit. Basically, you need to brave the traffic regulations around Chittaranjan Park (C.R.Park) – the Bengali neighbourhood of Delhi to see how festivities grip this otherwise quite neighbourhood in Delhi. The strings of bulbs hang from the trees welcoming the devotees and leading the way to the theme based pandal. As you enter, each of the pandals you will be led to three distinct spaces- first, designated to Goddess Durga, second to the food court and third to the cultural programmes that are held from Saptami to Navami.

The food courts of the pandals have all the known names in the business giving food stalls to make most of the business. B-Block Puja Pandal Food court had food stalls by Karims to Yo China. Beyond that the famous egg rolls, chicken rolls and Fish Fry were all there. The Puja Pandal adjacent to GK II Gurudwara also had an interesting mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian affair in their food court. Shiv Mandir Puja ground saw some interesting stalls of Phuchka, Ghugni and Biryani. The most interesting part about the food and festivities during Durga Puja is also how people occupy the streets and pavements for food stalls. For instance, the otherwise busy Kalibari Mandir Marg near Connaught Place which wears a busy traffic during weekdays has made way for a string of food stalls selling Ghugni, Jhal Muri ( infact one of the stalls claimed famous Jhal Muri from Burdwan), Mughlai Parantha, Rolls with various fillings like egg, chicken and mutton, Fried Rice and Chilli Chicken, tandoor items and of course Biryani.

The by lanes of CR Park have been taken over by people selling Ghugni, Kachori Alur Dam and even Masala Papad and various fries. The neighbourhood is buzzing with people making their way out from the pandals and the faint screeching noise of the traffic signalling how the life changes during festivities. As I struggle my way through the by lanes to reach Market No 1 to take my friends on a guided tour of the pandals I receive a call, “ We are stuck in traffic. It does not seem to move”. I wait patiently hanging around the magazine stall, flipping through all the Puja Barshiki (special editions that are published during Puja), make a wish list of all the new songs that I must try to listen to on youtube ( songs/ music albums are also released during this time) and of course collect a menu from all the food stalls. I begin my evening food trail with a plate of Phuchka popularly known as Panipuri in Delhi. In Bengal we use tamarind water flavoured with Gandhoraaj Lebu and the potato is mashed and mixed with chana, masala and tamarind pulp. The phucka prepared from Atta is peculiar to Bengal as well. As I wait for my friends to arrive I also head towards Kamala Sweets to help myself with a sweet dish- Chhanar Jilipi. Around 8pm my friends arrive and we head straight to Annapurna Hotel which has closed its air conditioned outlets (Shop no 142 and 143) and laid out chairs and tables in the open space of Market No 1. We decide to head straight for “fish” y meal thalis of Pabda, Hilsa and Rui. The Hilsa Curry was the perfect way to end a Navami Dinner- a day when we are allowed to have non vegetarian food and most households cook Panthar Jhol ( Mutton). The Hilsa Curry was spot on. As one my uncles would say, “ Maa Annapurna ( also the Goddess of Rice in other words, provider of food has blessed this place… there is magic and it is because of Annapurna’s blessing..”. I left the place and might go back again to have a Hilsa thali all for Rs 180/-

Ilish…

Time to get some rest and get ready for Bijoya Dashami…

© itiriti

Break-fast @ Parantha Wali Galli (the lane of Paranthas), Delhi

Image

Khurchan Paratha (Photo by Rajat Kanti Sur)

The lane of Paranthas tucked away at walking distance from the Chandni Chowk metro station has always fascinated me ever since I stepped my feet in Delhi some ten years back. As a student of North Campus, Delhi University the food ritual trips to Old Delhi was not uncommon. My tryst with Parantha Wali Galli began in one such food trips when my roommate had to shop some chiffon sareers from by-lanes in Chandni Chowk. Considering she was a Jalebi lover I bribed her with a plateful of jalebi from Jaleba and made her promise to accompany me to Paratha Wali Gali. It was late in the evening and the lane is dotted with the aroma of Ghee and various Paratha flavours coming out of the three shops of the twenty shops that existed at one point. I remember trying out the Papad ka Paratha and falling in love with the vegetable curry prepared of humble pumpkins in Pandit Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan Shop which was established way back in 1872.

Image

 

I have visited this shop since 2000 and as of 2012 you can find almost 25 kinds of Paranthas in this shop. My last trip was with a group of friends from Kolkata who braved Holi to take a tour of the Parantha Wali Galli. As soon as I entered the lane, the man who served me three years back from Pandit Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan’s shop walked up to me and greeted me with a smile. He asked, “Papad ka paratha mein time lage ga” ( It will take some time to prepare Papad ka Paratha). My friends and I were left speechless. They asked me if I came here frequently. I was touched that the cook remembered me even after three full years.

My friends went crazy and started ordering Papad Parantha, Nimbu Parantha (Parantha with Lemon zest), Gazaar ka Parantha and the icing on the cake as always was Khurchan Parantha. Well, it’s a must try for people with sweet tooth. It’s a Parantha stuffed with Malai and dozens of dryfruits. Calorie Watchers should refrain from trying this. As soon as my friend dived into his plateful of  Khurchan Parantha the Malai came oozing out. My best picks from the Paranthas on offer are:-

1)      Papad Parantha (Parantha stuffed with Fried Papad)

2)      Nimbu Parantha (Parantha stuffed with Lemon Zest and it tastes wonderfully tangy and spicy)

3)      Khurchan Parantha (Stuffed with Malai)

If you want to savour a parantha breakfast in Delhi step out to this thriving Parantha Lane of Chandni Chowk and try it out. I have posted some links from fellow bloggers who have visited this lane and you can pick up your favourite pick.

Other blog posts on the lane of Parathas (Parathe-wali-gali)

http://bhardwajme.blogspot.in/2012/03/delhi-food-yearning-parathe-wali-gali.html

http://ashokism.blogspot.in/2012/05/paranthe-wali-gali.html

http://8ate.blogspot.in/2009/01/chandni-chowks-paranthewali-gali.html

http://www.smilingmysticcloud.com/2012/05/in-bylanes-of-chatori-galiparanthe-wali.html

Newspaper articles

K.R.N. Swamy. “Frozen paranthas posing a challenge to Paranthewali Gali fare”, 10 November 2002, The Tribunehttp://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20021110/spectrum/eat.htm; Accessed on 28 August 2012.

Garima Sharma, “Bollywood’s favourite Paranthe Wali Galli”, 11 December 2010. The Times of India.http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-12-11/news-interviews/28228752_1_akshay-kumar-jama-masjid-red-fort

 

In quest for “Bengali” food in Delhi

On a cold evening, while I was unpacking, I received a call from my friend that they have discovered a place close to C.R. Park which serves “authentic” Bengali dishes and not too overpriced. Considering it was almost month end and we could spare Rs 250 per head we decided to opt for the home delivery option of this place. A quick search on google led us to the world of City of Joy- a restaurant tucked away in Aravali Shopping Complex, Alaknanda. After a listing of the menus which comprised of Bhetki Paturi, Railway Mutton Curry and Chicken DakBanglow we settled for Maa er hater atar roti ( thats what the Menu card calls Roti/ most commonly known in North India as Tawa Roti). A friendly voice listed the orders and took exactly 45 min to home deliver.

We were highly impressed by the taste and the quantity. Paturi tasted divine. The cynic that I am I thought this would be a one time performance and yesterday on a note of emergency  I called them up to check around 2.30pm if they would home deliver after 3pm since I was expecting a friend who had missed her lunch. They agreed to take the order around 3pm and the lunch spread was usually grand. I kept my fingers crossed as I unwrapped the Paturi and Aloo Posto ( Potato and Poppy seed paste) hoping that nothing should go wrong since this was practically the last order and the chefs must be retired souls. To our amazement the greenpeas stuffed kachoris were done to perfection. I could visualise the fluffy texture it might have had if I had eaten it in their restaurant. My friend was highly impressed and like a good foodie she said she does not think if any of the leftovers would make its way to my dinner. Content and relieved I said to my mind thank you City of Joy for being there.

I would recommend this place to anybody who is willing to explore Bengali cuisine as they offer quite a variety of vegetarian and non- vegetarian options which usually does not find its way to the Menu cards. Dishes like Posto Narkel Bora (a fried preparation of Poppy seeds, coconut), Data Chachori,  Echorer Guli Kofta ( Kofta of Jackfruit), mouri foron diye kalai er dal ( a lentil preparation with sauf), the list is endless and I would suggest you could browse their website www.cityofjoydelhi.com for details. 

You can also visit their restaurant which is quite cosy in its own way. So, next time you want to dig into some Bengali delicacy you can explore this place. Usual disclaimers apply: Some items are seasonal and subject to availability, particularly items to be sourced from West Bengal.

©itiriti