They say the best time to visit Old Delhi is during Ramadan. Rakesh Kumar didn’t miss the chance this year and went on a food trail of four iconic eateries of Chandni Chowk
It was 7.30 pm and rainy too. Yet we could see a sea of people, wearing white kurta and skull caps, emerging from India’s biggest mosque, Jama Masjid. Yes, we were in Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, on a food trail just a week before Eid-ul-Fitr. After offering prayers in Jama Masjid, all the devotees were preparing for Iftar or their meal to break their day-long fast. The congested lanes of Old Delhi became more packed, and different aromas of food wafted everywhere. From the mosque to shops, from eatery to dhaba, every nook and corner was gaily lit-up and decorated. The food walk was organised by Abhishek Basu, executive chef of luxury boutique hotel The Park, and our purpose was to taste all the popular cuisines of the old city. After gathering at Gate No 1 of the iconic mosque, we had to visit four popular eateries ~ Anwar Food Corner, Al-Jawahar Restaurant, Karim’s and Haji Tea Point.
“The idea behind organising the food walk is to make people aware of the rich cultural heritage of Delhi. We have seen people talk a lot about the history and culture of the city, but very few get an insightful idea about it. With the Ramadan walk, we aim to acquaint our guests with the delicious cuisines of Old Delhi,” said Basu.
Chef Basu explained to our group, which included several foreigners, about the inception of the mosque, how it survived and who was the current authority of this mosque. As the devotees were going ahead for Iftar, we also proceeded for our first stoppage at Anwar Food Corner. Compared to the other eateries, Anwar Food Corner, opposite Jama Masjid, is the youngest. Here we tried three dishes: Chicken Haleem, Chicken Tikka with butter and Boneless Fish Surmai with butter. Among them Chicken Haleem stole the show with its tangy and soupy taste, mixed with chicken, lentils and cardamom. However, Chicken Tikka and Boneless Fish Surmai also couldn’t be ignored. However, chef kept warning us not to overeat as there were three more destinations to visit.
Then it was time to taste Rumali Roti and Shami Kebab at Al-Jawahar restaurant. The kababs tasted really good and turned out to be a perfect combination with Rumali Roti and mint chutney.
Any trip to Old Delhi, especially a food walk, is incomplete without visiting Karims. So our final destination for dinner was at the iconic Karim’s restaurant. Buzzing with visitors, including foreigners, we had to wait a short while to get inside the eatery. But the place was worth the wait. At Karim’s we were served mouth-watering mutton Seekh Kebab, Chicken Burrah and Nihari along with Tandoori Roti. The chef informed that Nihari, takes about eight hours of preparation to extract the best possible flavour from the spices and make the meat tender, making the dish even more special and tempting. Not to mention, the dishes at Karim’s mesmerised everyone.
The epic food walk came to a close with a cup of hot milk-rich tea at the Haji Tea Point, which was brimming with visitors even at midnight. We were left thinking: Will the magic happen again next year?