Weekend in Pictures

Onion Rawa Masala Dosa
South Indian Thali
Not exactly weekend, but Thursday afternoon, Honey, my cousin popped up, and we decided to go out for lunch. Not looking beyond our neighboring Karol Bagh, he suggested we eat at a Udupi that he has been to, and he liked their food. However that particular Udupi was closed for renovation, and we settled at Sri Krishna Udupi on Saraswati Marg. Nothing extraordinary in terms of food and quality. However be careful when you order an ‘unlimited’ meal, they might put some ‘limits’ on it.
Cheese and Corn Maggi
Bun Maska and Chai
Fast forward to Friday evening, I was with Ashish Tulsian at DLF Place, in Saket. Ashish, though a non-smoker, is a big fan of Hookah or Sheesha, and a regular at Mocha. We settled in their open air lounging area, with  an absolutely fantastic Pan Hookah. Soon we were joined by Moumita Rudra, and we spent hours there talking about theories of god knows what. Coming to food we ordered a ‘Cheese & Corn Maggi’, and ‘Bun Maska & Chai’. Though I did not fancy the Maggi much, however I liked the Bun Maska & Chai, first for the taste, then for the concept. I have never had it in Mumbai, however after eating it at Mocha, I cannot wait to gobble it down at one of the Iranian cafes.
Fish From Bijoli Grill
Chicken Biryani from Karim’s
Saturday evening was the day for FED walk, and we had decided to explore the ‘Food Chowk’, again at DLF Place in Saket. Even though I have no affinity to the ‘mall food’, however Food Chowk brings some of the better known names in Delhi food Scene under same roof, and that is what attracted me to visit that place. And I was not disappointed at all. Nizam’s, Karim’s, Rajdhani, Nathu’s, Prince Pan, Nirula’s etc all coming under the same roof, is a foodie’s delight. And visiting this place with a bunch of foodies, allows you to sample multiple things.

Aamras
Egg and Paneer Roll
Dal Baati Choorma

Rolls from Nizam’s were just fabulous, I had heard about them before, however never got around to having them. However every bite lived upto its reputation. Then we moved on to Rajdhani, and had Dal Baati Churma. Now this was one of the rare occasions where I actually loved Dal Baati Churma made outside my home. There are only two other places where I liked them, one was in Chokhi Dhani, and other at an Interstate Bus station, incidentally both in Jaipur. Another thing that interested me was Aamras, again from Rajdhani. Have heard a lot about it, however never had it before. Not sure how it tastes otherwise, however I quite liked what Rajdhani had to offer.

The weekend also comprised a late night visit to Yashwant Place for Momos and Fried rice, home cooked Pao Bhaaji, Kachoris from Shyam Sweets, home made Paapdi Chaat, Pan kulfi, Pan and Mufarrah Sharbat from prince pan and I guess I am still missing a few things. Quite an amazing weekend it was, lets see what next one has in store.


PS : All the pictures in this post have been shot by using my mobile phone camera, so pardon the quality.

Eating Out – The Health Quotient

Being a foodie and trying to loose weight, it sounds like a bad combo. But Yours truly is sailing in that boat, trying to loose weight, in worst case, not to gain more and stay as active as I can be. And this requires me to be very careful of the portions and things I eat, well, atleast for 4 days in the week ;-).
Now there are times when you need that quick breakfast or an evening snack to get you going, and everywhere you look, you find the same fried stuff. Mind you, I am talking from perspective of very average men, and food we can eat on day to day basis. Yes, Subway is there, but somehow I don’t think it would fit an average pocket for regular consumption, and we all know about that option, so there is no point in talking about it. For past few days, I have been trying to find ways to avoid Chhole Bhature, or Poori Chhole or Kachori or Samose et al, unless I really want to have them (and that is quite often 😉 ). So what does that leave me with? My office is in Old Rajendra Nagar, and I live, lets say in the underbelly of Patel Nagar. So this would be very local to my area, however I hope some of the ideas can be ‘implemented’ wherever you live.
Talking about breakfast, there are times when you cannot eat at home or do not want to eat at home, and it always leaves me scratching my head, on what can I have without sending calorie meter in an overdrive. Now if you want to avoid  Bhature/Poori/Kachori, where does that leave you? Well, the only sensible option I was able to figure out was a South Indian Cafe in the Shanker Road Market (New Rajendra Nagar). I was there a few days back and they served a fabulous Upma with Sambar and coconut Chutney. Freshly made idly tasted heavenly at that hour as well. They had vadas on offer, however they again are fried. These guys start to serve at around 7:30 AM, and by 9 odd in the morning, they have Uthapams and Dosa ready as well. What I like is that they can make a dosa for you, without using any oil, which makes it a very healthy option. Now I am assuming that such small south Indian places are aplenty in Delhi, so you might want to find one and check when they start serving. My Breakfast of Upma and an Idli was sorted out in under 50 rupees. My quest for something different, also took me to Shudh in Karol bagh, where they have a buffet breakfast for Rs. 150 per person, however then again, buffet is not my idea of on-the-go-food, and anyhow, I found it to be very average.
Upma with Chutney and Sambar
Coming to evening snacks, I have discovered couple of decent options in my area, one being a small outlet called “Tummy Tull” (I love that name :D), near Patel Nagar Metro Station, they serve various types of rolls. I am not gonna talk about all of them here, however the one that got me interested was Double Egg Nutrine roll (as they call it). Its a roll with base coated with eggs and filled with Soy nuggets. They are quite eager to oblige any special request. So I ask them to make a roll with egg whites only and fill it up with Soy Nuggets. That works out to be a very healthy option, however I have to be carefull and keep a check on the person who makes them, as he is trigger happy when it comes to use of cooking oil in making the parantha (base). I literally have to force his hand into not putting any oil in it when he makes it for me. Grab a can of diet Pepsi, and you are all set for quite filling snack for Rs.50. Again, such roll wallas are all around Delhi, and non-vegetarians can use Chicken instead of Soy Nuggets. Just find one who is ready to oblige you, and makes yours using egg whites and minimal oil.
Last one on my list is another cafe called “No Guilt Cafe” in East Patel Market (next to Domino’s), they serve Frozen Yoghurts, and snacks targeted at health concious clientele. I have been there couple of times, and encountered over-eager but much clueless staff. It gives an impression of a wannabe chain, in which money has been invested but without any sense of taste or class (in terms of decor). However I was really surprised to have their corn and Spinach grilled sandwitch. It was made in whole wheat brown bread, grilled with almost no butter, Spinach tasted deliciously smooth and sweet corns did the balancing act against the  minute bitterness of spinach. The sandwich was just above Rs.100 including taxes, not exactly cheap, however I am not complaining. Also tried their Fruit and Nut sundae with frozen yoghurt and was disappointed by the miniscule amount of nuts and fruits in it.
Corn and Spinach Sandwish
Fruit and Nut sundae with Frozen Yoghurt
No Guilt Cafe, East Patel Nagar
This is as far as I have reached as of now, however my quest conitunes and I hope to discover more such places, where one can have a quick bite, without any guilts. On that note, would love to hear your experience of finding healthy food, do let me know if you have any recommendations / solutions.
PS : All the photos have been shot by my mobile phone, so if you found the quality to be poor, my apologies.

Food walk in Old Delhi – Discovering some Legends

I think I have stated this earlier, despite all the chaos, noise, crowds and everything that is wrong about Old Delhi, it never fails to fascinate me. I go there several times a year, for various reasons, but I always end up looking like a kid who has come to Disneyland (rather Appu ghar for us Dilliwalas) for the first time. Somehow I am able to find my spot, right in the middle of that chaos and I feel like I belong there.
Coming to food, I find lot of stuff in Chandni Chowk area to be overrated, and unfortunately most of us are only aware about the much talked about joints, for eg. Natraj Dahi Bhalle or Paranthewali Gali or  Kaka or Giani. Well, some of them joints are perfectly all right, however we were more keen on life beyond them, on tasting from the unknown and finding our own gem. And this was an aimless walk, without any specific ‘agenda’ in mind, guided by our nose and ears.
As we assembled outside gate no. 5 of Chandni Chowk metro station, we could not help but spot a fruit that most of us had never seen before. Well, my introduction to it was only a couple of days back, and I knew it was called Khirni. Its easy for me to try and equate its taste with many other fruits available, however I would not do that. Lets say that its a fruit, with its own flavor, and is quite delightful to eat in this summer heat. I have been told that this comes from Gujarat and is quite popular there.

Gol Gappas we never had.
Khirni, not easy to find.

We all know how bad Delhi summers are, and as we started to walk towards Khari Baoli, we passed Pundit Vedprakash Lemon wale at Ghantaghar, and suddenly a temptation to moisten our parched throats arose, and at FED, we love to give in to temptations.Now what is so special about Pundit Vedprakash, that makes him so popular? What differentiates one Lemon or Nimbu Lemon or Banta from another? Its the masala that goes into it. Most popular Lemon and Shikanji vendors have their own secret recipes for the masala, and Pundit Vedprakash is no different, i.e. his special masala makes him special.

Pundit Vedprakah Lemon Wale

We decided to give rest of Chandni Chowk a skip, and briskly walked towards Khari Baoli, where Hemanshu’s (from EOiD) friend shared with us his knowledge about the spice and dry fruit business in that part of city. Talking about Khari Baoli, it is not an easy place to be, especially if you have a sensitive nose. Passing through, there is a constant buildup to a sneeze, which takes its own sweet time coming through. There are certain points where the smell of spices is so strong that you cannot stand there for more than a few seconds, and in those few seconds you would have sneezed several times.

Various Dry Fruits on Sale in Khari Baoli

Post the ‘knowledge session’, some members went to Fatehpuri Masjid to get a birds eye view of that part of the city, however more dedicated foodies like me stayed back and decided to gorge chaats from an unnamed and unknown khomcha. We started off with Gol Gappas, then moved on to Kalmi Vada Chaat and Kachori Chaat, all washed down with Thandai from the neighboring peddler (without the negative connotations ofcourse). Now this is Dilli 6, so even average chaat of the area would be better than or at par with the finer stuff we get elsewhere in the city, or if I may say, anywhere else in the world. At this point, it is important to mention that most of people were surprised to see kachoris being served in Chaat form, and they had never heard of Kalmi Vada or kachalu before in their life. So don’t worry, you are not alone.

The Unknown Chaat wala khomcha

From there we entered a street, which would lead us to Naya Baans, while on that street, we sampled Mutter Kachori of what looked like a sweet shop, and was either named Thakur or Thakuran, then Hing Kachori with Aloo subzi from a khomcha in the same street. Mutter Kachoris were served with mithi chutney and were quite awesome, I also liked the taste of Hing Kachori, but subzi served with it left a bit to be desired. However if I am in the area, I am definitely going to give it another shot. At Naya Baans, we again had a kachori from a different vendor, whose subzi was much better than the first one, however I have had lot better stuff in walled city.

From there, we headed straight to Lal Kuan, and landed near Hamdard Dawa Khana. Being a vegetarian I had no clue that it was the corner of Master Skewer, the beef Kebab maker Ustad Moinuddin. I knew it had to be something special, what with that glitter in Hemanshu’s eyes, his ears refused to hear and when they heard something, his head refused to turn, and when his head turned, he was not able to speak, what with all the drool he had in anticipation of the Kebabs. ‘Ustad’ is an informal honorary social title, reserved for the finest artisans and musicians. And when that title is bestowed on a Kebab waala, I can only imagine what kind of magic he weaves with this culinary skills.

Anyhow, while the non vegetarians were busy with Kebabs, we satisfied ourselves with Stick Kulfi sold on the otherside of the street. Not the best I had, however at Rs.5 a pop, very good value for money.

Kulfi wala at Lal Kuan

Our little group of vegetarians, decided to walk further down the Lal Kuan bazaar, towards Hauz Qazi, trying to spot whatever vegetarian we can find. However at that hour, there was not even a single joint in the bazaar, which even resembled to serve anything vegetarian. Then I spotted a small nondescript looking shop, which was selling kheer, an elderly gentleman was at helm of things. Having had Kulfi a few minutes back, I was not in mood for more ‘dessert’ and wanted something spicy/tangy for my taste-buds. However I decided to ask others if they were keen, and too my surprise no one refused.

Now this was a small shop opposite Badal Beg Mosque, with no customers and nothing interesting at first glance, we decided to start with one helping of Kheer for Rs.20. As the first morsel went into my mouth, I knew I had stumbled on something great. It was not our usual kheer, it was very thick in consistency, rich and had a brown layer on it, which seemed be the caramel color of thickened milk. We ordered few more helpings and I could not stop but notice the grace and tehzeeb of the elderly ‘Mian’ ji serving us. Exchanged a couple of words with him on Urdu and Lucknow, while we savored every spoonful of his kheer. And Reena, our American friend in the group, tried to pronounce a name with ‘B’, who she said was a very famous Kheer wala, unfortunately no one in the group had any clue about it. Soon we moved on, and a couple of calls to other members of the group were made to coordinate, and that is when we realised that Mian ji serving us were actually Bade Mian, a man whose name commands respect in foodie circles, who is loved by locals and visitors alike.

Bade Mian, with his Kheer

Post Bade Mian, we moved on to Hauz Qazi, which opened a sea of options for vegetarians, as Chawri Bazaar and Sita Ram Bazaar, have traditionally been populated by trader class (baniyas) and hence are predominantly vegetarian. We skipped both Ashok’s (Chaat Corners) and slipped into the Chawri Bazaar. Stopping at the first joint we came across, we sampled Dal Cheela or Chilla, Aloo Tikki and Rabri Falooda, everything was strictly OK for walled city, however would have been good outside it.

Aloo Tikki

Bhaaji of Pao bhaaji, which we skipped.

Dal Cheela or Chilla
Making Aloo Tikkis

 Then we entered Sita Ram Bazaar for what would be our final stop for the evening. And what a finale it was !  Kuremal Kulfi came into the picture with Jamun Kulfi as a show stopper, followed by pomegranate, falsa, mango, kesar pista, fruit cream and several other varieties of delightful kulfi. Kuremal needs no introduction for people who follow and are passionate about food in Delhi. Kuremal’s name is nothing short of a legend now. His shop is based out of Kucha Pati Ram, in Sitaram Bazaar, and attracts absolutely no attention. We were told that most of his business was through major hotels, where he supplied Kulfis, however were we delighted to sample his summer delights ! I can continue raving about how good they were, however Kuremal, along with other legends in this post, deserve their independent space on FED blog.

Shani Dev doing duty in Kucha Pati Ram.

The Show Stopper – Delightful Jamun Kulfi

There are no conclusions to this post, all I can say is that I would be soon headed back, for more adevntures, for the fun of exploring the unknown and stumbling on legends like Ustad Moinuddin, Bade Mian and Kuremal. The Walled City has many Aces up its sleeves, and the treasure chest has just started to open up.

Moolchand Paranthewaala – An Institution

A portion of this post comes from my earlier post on the same outlet written on 1st January, 2010.
The other day I was going to Bahai House of worship, and hunger pangs took over me. Suddenly my proximity to Moolchand Paranthe-waala came to mind and I thought missing this opportunity to have them would be a sacrilege.
I was there around 5 pm, it was not as crowded as it is in late evenings and night, however there were still enough customers to keep him busy. A quick chat with the owner revealed that it was setup by his father around 35-36 years, and earlier they used to start in evenings and operate through the night. However off-late, they have started to serve in days and wind up their operation maximum by mid-night. Metro work has forced them to move a bit, however that has not made any difference to the business and clientele.

The Ubiquitous Parantha, the way it is served.

That is my Order 😀
Now this one is another legend of the city. If one tries to think of Delhi and Paranthas, its quite easy to assume that Paranthas would be sold at every nook and corner of the city, as we do swear by our paranthas. But unfortunately that is not the case. In this parantha crazy city, everyone only likes what their mom makes (or wife maybe) and do not generally go out for paranthas.  And yes, the legendary Paranthe waali gali is alive in  legends only, its a sham.
However the Paranthe-waala sitting opposite Vikran Hotel, near Moolchand Hospital in Lajpat Nagar is one of the few that has been able to make a name for itself. It is known by many names, but yes, most of the foodies in the city would know about this place for sure. Its an institution in itself, and one of the most popular ones at that.

Prantha, from another angle
As any other famous roadside joint, this place is often crowded, hygiene is not what you are looking for, food comes cheap and there are not many who do better than them. I guess the most expensive Parantha on the menu would not cross Rs.20, and they have a good variety of those. The most famous one being Egg Parantha.You can have them with combination of Rajma/Dal, Boondi Raita, butter or either one of those. They serve it with Masala on top and bunch of spiced up green chillies.

Bowl of Boondi Raita
Green Chillies and Masala that is served with Paranthas

And yes, coming to actual praranthas they are quite good, made on a giant Tawa with perfection of an assembly line. Its the stuff that Taxi waalas eat for a days heavy lunch and youngsters after their evening party sessions in fancy clubs and pubs.

Owner with the Giant Tawa
In my opinion, they are quite good, however I still feel Delhi needs a paranthe-waala that can satisfy the most discerning mom’s parantha lovers. However till we find him, Moolchand Paranthe-waala shall hold the crown.

My Rating : 3.5 / 5

PS : For those who don’t know, this Paranthewaala actually has no name, however is called Moolchand Paranthewala, because of his proximity to “Moolchand Hospital” in south Delhi.

Exploring Street Food, Bengali Style in CR Park -> Photolog

Bengali and vegetarian in the same sentence? Something just does not sound right, does it? However Barnali Ganguly and Moumita Rudra insisted that their is plenty to offer in terms to street food, and offered to take us to Chitranjan Park (CR Park for some) Market in south of Delhi to do some exploration, and FEDs jumped on the offer. Around 10 of us assembled in CR Park market no. 2, for what was a delicious and fun filled evening. Here are some pics
FEDs in Chitranjan Park market
FEDs in CR Park market, with yours Truly in the pic this time.
 We started at Dadu’s Cutlet Shop, which accounted for most of the food we had in our stomachs that evening.

Non-vegetarians kick started their evening with Egg Devil and Fish Cutlet
While the Vegetarians enjoyed the Samosas and Pyazi

Here I must point out, though Pyazi felt like the Bhajiya I had in Mumbai, however the masalas in Samosas were different than what we are used to having in Delhi. Rate list made for a happy reading, as most of the things were reasonably priced.

Veg Chop and Mocha Chop

The highlight of the evening for me was the veg chop, and Mocha chop was one of the most interesting things. Mocha (pronounced with Ch in Chai) is Banana flower, and it has a bit bitterness in the taste. I was told that it was quite good for health, but I feel its going to be an acquired taste, something you would get to like after your have it a few times.

Samosas

It was still around 7 pm and people at Dadu’s were still making Samosas, however Barnali was literally not eating anything. On being asked, she said that they started serving Aloo Chops at 7:30 pm and she was waiting for them. A hard core non vegetarian, waiting for Aloo Chops, we were intrigued.

The Delightful Aloo Chop
Stack of Aloo Chops

And when they started making it, they were just not able to make enough. Every round was immediately lapped up by the crowd.  From the looks of it, its similar to Batata  Vada or Aloo Bonda, as the basic ingredients remain the same, however there was a distinct difference in spices and this lens the chop a unique taste.

Sandesh or Sondesh
Now with Annapurna Sweets next door, desserts came in a little early.
Chanar Jilipi or Chhaina jalebi
 More Chanar Jilipi
Mishti Doi
Jilipi was introduced to me as Chhaina Jalebi and somehow I was expecting it to be hot, which ofcourse it was not. I was left wondering if it would taste better if served a bit warm. Then the ubiquitous Sondesh was there, however I was more keen on Mishti Doi. Have heard great things about it, and I was not disappointed.  I was told that this mishti doi was as good as what they serve in Bengal and the packaged ones, do not even come close.
Already feeling full, we were wondering what we can eat or rather handle next. However when the name Puchka came up, we all agreed in unison.

 

The Puchka Stall
A mix of Potatoes and Chana, used to stuff Puchka

Now this was really different, first many Delhiites, including myself, like to have their Gol Gappas or Pani Puris or Puchkas made of Suji, however the Bengali Variety only comes in Atta. And then Aloo and Chana that they stufff in it is mixed with various spices and herbs, unlike Delhi, where they just put boiled potato and/or chana.

Unfortunately this turned out to be disappointment, no one enjoyed it, including our Bengali ladies. Who later explained and this was a specially bad day and their regular guy was not there. Well, we live to try them some other time.

Other major attraction of the area is the fish market, which most of us had no intention of going with our stomachs full. I guess even for non-vegetarian North Indians, the stench is unbearable. However Barnali did point out couple of vegetables at the grocer which were used  in Bengali cuisine and would be hard to find anywhere in Delhi.

Lal Saag, cooked and eaten with rice
Lau or Bengali Ghia, well not my cup of tea
Stem of Banana tree

Now we were done with the market no. 2, however Ghugni was still on agenda, and we trekked to market no. 1 for that.

Ghugni
Non-vegetarians in the group were delighted with what they had, however me an Ashish (vegetarian) were indifferent to what we had. very similar to Chana or Chhole, and nothing very interesting.

Well, there are no conclusions to this one, however as mentioned earlier, it was an evening well spent, eating what most of us had not eaten before, meeting old and new faces, laughing and having fun.

Also read :

Exploring Street Food, Bengali Style in CR Park – Part 2 

Conncet with me on Twitter – @Sh_AGer