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The Iftar Foodies

Even in my wildest of dreams (which I often pursue in) I had never imagined to be sitting one day in The Jama Masjid but the EOiD Group surely changed my viewpoint and I am glad I was able to shed away the inhibitions and go there and be part of the Iftar Gathering…
Well for the uninitiated EOiD is Eating Out in Delhi…It’s a group of Foodies who explore non-descript eating joints serving the most amazing food in town and the moment I got to know I just wanted to join the group and be a part of this amazing community to share their expertise wrt food…there are some 422 members on the EOiD Orkut Community but I don’t know how many of them are actually active and actually participate in meets…I joined this group recently through a friend Shashank Khandelwal and invites were sent to me by the founder of the group Hemanshu for the Iftaar Walk in Old Delhi which was happening on 28th September 2008…in my excitement I almost reached the venue much before time but then Shashank came to my rescue and we spent some time roaming around in CP…and to start the long food fiesta ahead I had my favourite Butterscotch Milk Shake at Keventer`s…
We took the Metro from CP for Chawri Baazaar which was the rendezvous point and Shashank started to explain me the various places around…I was interested in knowing where all the lanes lead to…he told me about Lal Kuan Road & Sitaaraam Baazaar…name which I had heard a million times but did’nt even get close to actually visiting them…but I thought today is the day to explore these places and go on a Food Mission !!! the wait did’nt last very long…Shashank soon took me to his favourite Matar-Kulcha joint where I ate the best Matar I ever had in my life and it’s not an understatement as till date I must have eaten Matar at almost 50 different places. The Spices were perfectly balanced…and the Matar were so succulent and almost melted in the mouth…just loved it…
After that he told me about one of the most famous Chaat Shops…and as you all guess correctly I could not resist much and had a plate of Golgappas !!! once again the spices were mixed perfectly and the taste was simply amazing !!!
By the time I finished the entire group had come…the 3 Flash Gaming experts all the way from Noida :Satyaarth, Rohit & Himanshu, Hemanshu :the founding member, Supratim : the profusely sweating foodie, Meenakshi : The vegetarian Journalist, we also had 2 expats with us whose names I have forgotten (somebody please help me with their names) and then we started our walk towards Jama Masjid amidst hundreds of Cycle Rickshaws and the bells tinkling all over…the big relief was that the Markets were closed due to it being Sunday and one can easily imagine the mess on the roads when the markets are in full bang !!! all the famous Wedding Cards shops are in the this market : Chawri Bazaar where millions of dreams are printed each year and as they say “Matches are made in Heaven”…the same applies to the market “Wedding Cards are made in Chawri Bazaar” !!!
Amidst utter confusion and non-sensical crowd of people we reached the legendary Jama Masjid where people were rushing in for the Iftaar Namaaz which was supposed to start at 6:15…we removed our shoes and sat down amongst thouands of people around us… huddled up in groups with their foods ready…Pakodas, Fruit Chaat, Kale Chane, Khajur (Dates), Potato Chips…you could find so many varities…a kind soul gave us Khajurs as according to Muslim Traditions the Roza(fast) is broken generally with a khajur…we kept holding the same wondering when we get the indication from others and we gobble it up !!!
Me & Supratim decided to click some snaps from the rear-gate view and then we got one of the biggest scare of our lives…when we were gleefully clicking away to glory we heard 2 loud bangs resembling the sound of a Bomb Blast !!! we were shell-shocked s the news of Terror Strikes had became too common lately…but to our surprise nobody panicked and no confusion at all !!! and soon the Maulvi started his Namaaz Recital and then we realized that this explosion might be a sort of a signal for people to break their fast !!! we all heaved a sigh of relief and sat down again admiring people happily gobbling up food with their families…children running around and their parents scolding them ( a common sight everywhere)…the best scene I saw was a young child breaking his fast with Lays Chips that too American Onion Flavour !!! what an irony it was…his innocence was all over his face and the fundamentalists could see that and get themselves buried somewhere !!! it was surely a sight I would never forget in time to come…
After viewing the people frenzy and clicking some amazing pics we moved on and started our Matia Mahal Walk till the very end of the road…the best part was that I have been to the Karim’s atleast 20 times but haven’t gone ahead to explore…this meet gave me a good opportunity to roam around and view the scenes around and this being the best time of the year to visit…with the Ramzaan & Eid festivities overflowing !!! Hemanshu wanted to take us all to the Badaam Milk guy but sadly he had not put up his stall this year…soon the empty stomach bug hit us suddenly (as expected)…as we just could not avoid it…the smell of kebabs & biryani was just hitting us vigorously…and nobody could avoid these violent fume strokes !!! we ordered Chicken Tikkas which were getting smoked on the Coal Fire…also Chicken Biryani from the shop nearby…both the flavours were amazing…the spices were not to heavy and were not over-towering the taste of the chicken…we gorged up 6 plates of chicken and 3 plates of Biryani in no time !!! Meenakshi was gleefully nibbling away the rice from the Biryani Plate without having ay qualms of being a vegetarian !!! hats off to her spirit…we need more open-minded foodies like her and then this world would be a much better place to share & eat together !!! After the chicken treat all of us were feeling thirsty and we all went to a Neebu-Lemon joint serving Banta Lemon !!! Meenakshi started jumping up and down reminiscing about her childhood days when she used to enjoy Banta with her Grand-Dad !!! the Banta was surely refreshing and cooled our tummies to get ready for some vegetarian feast awaiting us in Sitaaraam Bazaar !!!
We all decided to make a move towards The Chawri Bazaar Roundabout again to gorge on some Chaat and desserts…but on the way we tried the Habshi Halwa at a sweets shop right next to Al-Jawahar…it was amazingly heavy and delicious…Meenakshi also bought her Tin Box from that shop to store the Sewain which she wanted to courier for her Dad in Mumbai…just 5 mins into our walk we realized that we had forgotten one of her expat friends in Matia Mahal and he had just vanished…me, her & Supratim decided to go back and look for him as good Samaritans !!! it was surely a tough task looking for a lone person amidst that mad rush of people wandering around…but soon we hit jackpot and found him wandering around looking at shops and what not !!! we decided to celebrate this victory of ours with a plate of Locally made Ice-cream !!! Mango & Cream flavour…after the first bout of dessert and many more waiting for us we started to walk briskly to join the group and also to gorge again !!!
Our next stop was Heera Lal Chaat Bhandaar which is extremely famous for serving Pao Bhaaji w/o Onion & Garlic but we all gave it a miss and instead went for the Chaat…we had Banana Chaat & Aloo Chaat…once again a totally new flavour for some us but absolutely awesome…the caravan trudged along again towards our next pit-stop…the world-famous Kuremal Kulfi Bhandaar !!! it was a shop with no frills attached…just some plastic chairs and a huge refrigerator…but what we wanted was in abundance !!! Kulfis !!! of so many different flavours…we ate Anar, Aam, Cream & Kesar Pista flavours…also tried the most innovative kind of Kulfi…the Bharvan Aam Kulfi(that’s what I named it) the modus operandi to prepare it : remove the guthli inside, stuff it with Kesar Rabri / Milk, pack it with Atta to close the contents, freeze it to Death and ten slice it…presenting to the world with the twin flavours of Rabri & Aam so delicately intertwined with each other that they just melt in the mouth !!! You get such kulfis in the Haldirams & the Bikanerwalas of the world but the Kuremal Stuff is simply divine !!! but the rarest breed of Kulfi was saved for the end by the owner who joined the shop late !!! that was the PHAALSE Kulfi…it’s a seasonal wild fruit (did some googling and it is translated to Blackberry in English)…don’t know whether its right or wrong as normally this word is associated with Garments !!! and not with some variety of wild fruit…the flavour was simply out of this world…with a sour flavour hitting our tounges and mixed with the sweetness of the Phaalse…we lost count of the number of Kulfis we all gobbled up in some 3-35 mins but the shopkeeper was just piling away the Kulfi Scoops used to freeze them…we ate Kulfis worth 850 bucks !!! I am sure this record would stand the test of time for years to come !!! I followed the Kulfi tryst with a Saada Kimaam Pan to end the food extravaganza…
But wait…the food journey was not over…Bade Mian’s Kheer was waiting for us !!! one of the most obscure looking shops you would ever look at but man the Kheer !!! that’s better than any dessert you would ever taste at any seven star hotel of the world…I can bet my life on this fact !!! the subtle sweetness is so light & mild that the kheer can be advertised as a Diabetic Delicacy but on the taste front nothing free or less about it !!!
Sadly this was the last thing we all ate that night but the kind of delicacies we had I am sure all of you who haven’t been there are missing and its high time you boarded the Delhi Metro and get off at the Chawri Bazaar Station and get lost in the magical world of myriad Food Destinations !!! I am damn sure nobody would get back home carrying anything sad except some extra calories to boot !!! I can safely say that out of the 16-18 items I tried nothing was disappointing and would qualify as bad !!! rather everything was just about perfect…one word of foodie advice…have your breakfast early and skip the lunch before you go there to enjoy to the brim !!!
This was one hell of a gastronomical experience and one which gave me enough calories for the week !!! and also to get geared up for the 8th October Navratra Walk in and around Chawri Bazaar to enjoy the North Indian Tradition of Chaat during the Holy 9 days of Navratras…
You can check all the pics at http://picasaweb.google.com/jha.nishant/EOiDMeetOldDelhiFeast?authkey=7r5kHqaTYdU#
Till then…keep eating…and have safe sex…
Che Guevara would be back on the road again !!!

12 Comments

  1. Saale sab kha kar aa gaya….kuch pack bhi kar lata……..

  2. But on a serious note a child eating Lays American Onion flavour so really cute and innocent….. a must see fo Osama and Bush if they could understand what it meant.

  3. dude,
    after reading this blog…i m missing delhi toooooo much..and how can u skip the natraj key dahi bhalle and gianni’s rabri falooda..

    but over all…it one helluva experience for a foodie like u….i m gonna join this group ASAP..
    Kamal Kanwadia

  4. Oh man I miss Delhi 🙁 What a cool trip and amazing food. Wish I could have joined you.

  5. nice post…..welcome to eoid :)hope ur tummy gonna love all the places u find here 🙂

  6. After reading all this, all I can say is 3 words “YUM YUM YUM”. Gonna go and get myself some Firni and Shahi Tukda to satisfy the gastronomic pang of envy that you have just caused me… 😉

  7. Hi Che,

    I can easily relate to your trip and blog. Amazing food isn’t? We are goint to Ramlila ground today to enjoy the old Delhi delicacies. It will be all showcased today. Will come back …till then happy exploring………..

  8. Bon Appétit … 🙂

  9. That was a great post. Actually it was an unusual post from ur side since u always write on travelling. But I enjoyed reading it.

    I am always in favour of food available on roadside stalls…they r so tasty and rarely dissappoint! And next time, when I visit Delhi, I m not going to return without having some food at Chawri Bazaar!

    FENIL

  10. Sirji awesome post…i never knew there is an Eating out group in Delhi as well!

    And u went at the best place at the most appropriate time. In Bombay, there is this Mohd. Ali rd where we go to and man…the best place to eat in Bombay during Ramzan!

  11. Yummmmmeeeeee…… very nice… when i sarted reading I was wondering what would be a vegetarian there…. hmm i could see some, if only I could live thru the smell of meat near that area………(no offenses meant)

  12. whoa nice trip man..i want to do something like this..so was this just a foodie trip?…made me hungy man

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