From the Kitchens of The Mughals: Old Delhi Food Walk

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Photo of From the Kitchens of The Mughals: Old Delhi Food Walk by Suvro Banerjee

Every city has a story to tell. Hidden in the nooks and corners of the labyrinthine lanes of Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi) are many such stories waiting to be heard. But of all the many stories, the most famous are those told by the flavours and spices. By the dishes, some of whose recipes are centuries old. As old as the Mughal sultanate.

Winter is a great time for a food walk in this part of the National capital. Thus, I embarked on a gastronomic adventure to try some of the famous delicacies of Old Delhi and also set out on a quest to find something new.

The culinary fare in this part of the city is quite different from the rest. The naan or the butter chicken here is not how a typical north Indian knows it to be.

1) Abdul Ghani Qureshi Kabab Corner

The prelude to every culinary journey is the starter, and what can be a better dish but Kebabs to kick off this epic journey. Mashed meat, marinated in spices, and roasted slowly over charcoal to perfection is what makes a perfect kebab. And this place, located just opposite Jama Masjid in Old Delhi, does know its way around. The kebabs here sell like hot cakes. While some like to have just the kebabs, others prefer it wrapped in Roomali Roti. But however you have it, these are one of the best kebabs available in the area.

Seekh Kebabs lined up atop a charcoal oven getting ready to be served

Photo of Abdul Ghani Qureshi Kabab Corner, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Suvro Banerjee

2) Al Jawahar

Moving on to the main fair, my personal favourite among all the different types of bread available in this area is the Sheer Maal. This extremely soft hand tossed bread is baked inside and clay oven to perfection. But that's not all. The bread is then brushed with ghee (vanaspati) and sweet syrup before being served. Typically a Persian dish, there are very few places in Delhi that serve quality Sheer Maal.

Sheer Maal. Derived from the Persian Saffron Flatbread

Photo of Al Jawahar Restaurant, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Suvro Banerjee

Just like every superhero needs a sidekick, the perfect bread deserves a perfect side dish and the Chicken Korma here is the dish you must order. The sweetness of the bread and the spices in the korma creates an explosion of flavour in the mouth.

Typical to any Indian dish, the Chicken Korma is rich in colour and flavour due to the generous use of spices in its preparation

Photo of From the Kitchens of The Mughals: Old Delhi Food Walk by Suvro Banerjee

3) Aslam Chicken

Probably one of the most visited restaurants in Old Delhi, Aslam Chicken prepares Tandoori Butter Chicken, unlike none. The chicken pieces are first roasted over charcoal, then mixed in yoghurt, spices and finally a generous pouring of molten butter.

Chicken lined up on the charcoal oven. The saucepan on the extreme end of the oven contains molten butter waiting to be poured over the chicken.

Photo of Aslam Chicken Corner, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Suvro Banerjee

From preparation to licking the bowl clean, every part is an experience in itself. Served with roomali roti, the dish will leave you craving for more. However, on a weekend you must be prepared to wait for a good 20 minutes for the place is packed to capacity.

Served in a very simplistic manner, the pieces of chicken literally floats on butter.

Photo of From the Kitchens of The Mughals: Old Delhi Food Walk by Suvro Banerjee

4) Haji Shabrati Nihariwale

Neatly tucked inside a narrow lane, the first glimpse of the shop is really not that attractive. But as the saying goes, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Makers of one of the best Nihari, this shop has been serving Nihari for over half a century now!

The preparation of Nihari is a very long process. Cooked slowly in a wide variety of spices on a wood-fueled clay ovens, it takes over eight hours to prepare this dish. The result, juicy, succulent chunks of meat that just melts in the mouth. Nihari is best had with naan.

Mutton Nihari in rich spicy gravy.

Photo of Haji Shabrati Nihariwale, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Suvro Banerjee

5) Kallan Sweets

"All's well, that ends well" and what can be a better ending to this culinary journey than a heart-melting sweet dish. Arguably one of the riches sweet dishes in the Mughlai cuisine is the Shahi Tukda. The primary ingredient being bread, this dish is rich in dry fruits and ghee (vanaspati). Served warm, the aroma of ghee and the flavour of dry fruits makes for a true delight.

Shahi Tukda. A dry fruit and ghee loaded sweet dish.

Photo of Kallan Sweets, New Delhi, Delhi, India by Suvro Banerjee

Lastly, the rarest of all sweets, Daulat Ki Chaat. Rare because this sweet dish is only available during the winter month, sold on small handcarts in the various lanes of Old Delhi. It takes an entire night's time to prepare this heritage sweet and one of the key ingredients in it is the morning dew. Resembling like whipped cream, but much lighter and fluffier, this is a sweet you must try before it's gone.

Daulat ki Chaat a heritage sweet dish unique to the lanes of Old Delhi.

Photo of From the Kitchens of The Mughals: Old Delhi Food Walk by Suvro Banerjee

Inclusion:

- Cost of food

- One bottle of 1L Packaged drinking water

- All taxes

Exclusion:

Any sort of tipping, shopping etc.

Extra portions of food ordered

Transportation

Anything not mentioned in inclusions

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