In spite of living for a long time in NCR I have hardly explored Old Delhi. So when I saw an invitation from Delhipedia for a food walk in Chandni Chowk I accepted it without hesitation. It was an afternoon walk. I was so excited about it that I didn’t even consider the weather. But the weather cooperated with us. The day was not so hot. So without any further delay let me take you on the food trail in Old Delhi that I did. We had 5 food stops- Natraj Dhai Bhalla Corner, Amritsai Lassi Wala, Gole Hatti, JB Kachori Wala and Old Famous Jalebi Wala. We also stopped at the famous spice market in the Khari Baoli area, considered to be the Asia’s largest spice market. You can see it all in the video by the Delhipedia team.
Our first stop was Natraj Dhai Bhalla Corner. As soon as we climbed up the stairs, the place felt familiar to me. I actually went to Old Delhi once with Chhavi and just to escape the crowd we climbed up the stairs of this shop and had food there. I didn’t know then that it was a famous shop.
We had Dhai Bhalla and Aloo Tikki at this place. I liked the Dhai Bhalla a lot. It was lip smacking good, the dhai (curd) was quite creamy and the overall taste wonderful. The Aloo Tikki was good too but the inner filling was too spicy for me. In the end I had to leave a small portion of the inner filling in the plate. I felt guilty but I could not finish it. This shop is quite close to the Chandni Chowk Metro Station.
After having the chaat most of us protested that ordering one plate for each person was just too much. At other stops we would share food. That was a good idea except at Amritsari Lassi Wala. I had a Mango Lassi and I had it all to myself. It was full of malai and I enjoyed eating it the most. The Lassi was delicious too. When I go back to Chandni Chowk again, I am going there for sure. Amritsari Lassi Wala is right across the Odeion Sweets.
After having such rich foodstuff we decided to walk to the spice market at Khari Baoli. This was my first visit to the spice market and it was a revelation to me. The place has such a unique smell of various spices floating in the air. The smell of dry chili predominates, making everyone sneeze liberally.
The colors then catch your attention, yellow of the haldi (turmeric), red of the chilies, green of the cardamom and much more. The streets were full of carts and sacks taking the produce to its destination!
There is Seth Lakshmi Narayan Garodia Market right next to the Fatehpuri Mosque. It is an old crumbling complex with many levels all full of spices. We climbed the stairs into the complex and explored it a bit. It was like entering another era!
I do not have much imagination but even I was left wondering about the place and its history. I am sure it would have been a grand place in its heydays!
We left the market sneezing and coughing. Our next stop was Gole Hatti which is famous for its rice with chole palak. I loved the pickled carrot that came with the main dish. I also enjoyed the imli (tamarind) ki chatani. This time I shared food. There was no way I could eat a plate all by myself.
Our next food stop was JB Kachori Wala. They are on FB and Twitter too. Once again we shared food. The kachoris were absolutely khasta (crisp) but once again way too spicy for me. I could eat only a little. Don’t go by my definition of spicy though, I am known as the European in the family! The gentleman at the shop was extremely courteous and happy to pose for me more than once! Right across it is Kedarnath Premchand Halwai who makes excellent Nagori Halwa. I tried them on my previous visit to Chandni Chowk.
Our final stop was the Old Famous Jalebi Wala. Now I have a big sweet tooth and this was my favorite stop! I loved the jalebi with rabri. They were perfectly sweet, not too much and not too little. This shop takes the top spot in my list closely followed by the Amritsari Lassi Wala.
I had been on Chandni Chowk Food Walk for about four hours and I was worried about hitting the peak traffic on my way back home. I just barely missed it in the metro.
Over all it was a delightful food walk that was organized by Delhipedia.
I went on a photowalk through Chandni Chowk recently. It left me with thoroughly mixed feelings. On one hand it offered good food and a peek into the past. But there were so many people who were living on the streets. Some of them quite old too. I wonder what got them there in life. But then I am get ahead of the story.
The white haired man was sitting in front of a sweet shop peeling potatoes. He told us they peel about 20 kilo of potatoes in a day.
He was the young helper of the white haired man. I wonder what is it that ties their fates together, one so young and the other all white hair- both peeling potatoes together! The potatoes are used in making samosas they told us! Both of them were quite cool about us clicking their pictures.
And then there was this old woman sitting all alone close to Sis Ganj Sahib Gurudwara. She certainly was of the age when she should sit at home surrounded by grandchildren. And here she was, all alone with a bag next to her. I can only wonder what is her story.
I wonder how old is this green door and where would the narrow staircases would take me? I am sure if the door could speak it would have some stories to tell!
This old man was opening his shop. I wonder for how long has he done the same? I wonder if likes the way his days go by? I wonder what he considers to be a good day at work?
There is no such suspense surrounding this gobhi ka paratha. It was damn tasty and I ate it all. I cold have had one more, but the paratha was deep fried. So, I stopped at one.
The young boys in Chandni Chowk were the ones who would demand that I should click a picture of them! Now only if they knew how I wanted to do just that, only I am quite timid. For a person like me ‘take my picture’ are sweet words!
It was through the stories of friends I realized that Old Delhi was once synonym with grandeur! There were water canals flowing in the middle of the city, moonlight would reflect in its tans, hence the name Chandni (moon) Chowk (square). Now I have been to a few squares in other countries, like Syntagma Square in Greece. Why is it that Chandni Chowk has no obvious traces of its old glory? Why is it that someone has to point it out to the unimaginative me! Chandni Chowk is heritage and yet it is hard to see.
And in the end the bull seems to say, “a penny for all your thoughts!” And that probably sums it up well too!
When I woke up 15 minutes before the alarm would go, at 5.45 am, I had a great temptation to just turn the other way and go back to sleep again. However, I made it to the metro, only to yawn continuously all through the journey. In spite of living in NCR for a long time, I have not frequented Chandni Chowk. So, when friends at Darter announced a Chandni Chowk Photowalk for today, I decided to join in. We met at Digamber Jain Temple and then leisurely walked through the streets of Chandni Chowk.
Some people in our group were very knowledgeable about the area, they knew which was the oldest shop (Ghantewala), they knew it recently got closed and they knew where you got good things to eat! While talking of such things we paused at this shop. We asked this beaming man if we could click pictures! He was quite alright with it.
His shop had an amazing display of imartis! I wonder why I didn’t buy any but I made up for it by buying jalebis later on!
However, what hit me most was the number of people who were on the streets in the area! It was staggering. As soon as I got out of metro I saw a long queue which left me wondering. I thought it was a queue of daily wagers waiting to get work. As I walked more I realized it was a queue for free food! The whole scenario of homeless people makes me wonder what are we all doing as a nation?
This quiet man was sitting on the steps of his home, I guess. All he wanted was to read his newspaper and talk on his cell phone. Instead he had a group of people with SLRs descend on him, each interested in clicking his picture. He was a pro, he ignored us all while we all aimed our cameras at him! Photowalks in Chandni Chowk seem to be a regular thing, he must be used to it!
It was extremely humid today in the morning. All of us were sweating buckets. We were happy to sit down at a paratha shop and have breakfast at the famous Parathe Wali Gali. You can see that the parathas are deep fried but for one day it was fun eating them for breakfast!
Our next food stop was this shop were I bought the jalebis. He told me to wait, he would give me hot ones. And hot they were when they came and delicious too! We also tried Nagori Halwa at his shop. If you have not tasted it, do give it a try the next time you are in Old Delhi!
As it is Eid today we thought the area would be very crowded. But in the morning, it was not so! We came across this feast in the area. An elderly person came and asked one of us if we were freelancers! I am sure by next visit they would ask if we are bloggers or freelancers!
I loved the henna streaks on his beard. He was also quite tolerant of a bunch of people with cameras all pointing at him!
I wonder what the great poet would say if he could witness this scene? Our last official stop on this walk was Mirza Ghalib’s Haveli. I for my life cannot appreciate poetry but I love this man’s work, the little that I know!
I can however tell you what this fellow blogger with the smartphone says! He is a well known blogger and yet he always pleads with all of us not to tag him in his pictures! I was telling him he has no business being in online space if we can’t tag his pictures! But till he comes around, I will let it be.
So this is a short glimpse of the Chandni Chowk Photo Walk with #DelhiDarter! I hope you enjoyed it too.