The best time to organise a food walk one is the month of Ramzaan. This is the time when every dilliwala makes a trip to Jama Masjid to savour the flavors of iftar. A good starting point to this trail is the Chawri Bazaar metro station. Step out of gate no. 3 and a lane from the Hauz Qazi roundabout leads to Sitaram Bazaar which houses the shop in Kucha Pati Ram.There are 3-4 kulfi shops in this kucha, but Mahavir Prasad Kuremal is the best of the lot. We started out food walk with a range of kulfis: plain matka kulfi, rose, jamun with a sprinkling of rock salt, paan kulfi, khatta meetha, litchi, stuffed apple and stuffed mango, plain mango, chikoo, aam panna kulfi to name a few!!!! Kucha Pati Ram also has some interesting haveli facades. Before making the next food stop we visited a small local mosque nearby. This is the Ruknuddaulah masjid, built in the 18th century. Its caretaker is a gentle named Nuruddin who is a resident of Churiwalan & a darner by profession. An extremely warm person, he ensures that visitors to the mosque are always welcome. The mosque is an exquisite example of carved stone work which is in a good shape. Take a look at the pictures to get an idea of the craftsmanship on stone.
The next stop on our walk was Hira Lal chaat corner in Chawri Bazaar. And their specialty is the kulle or kuliya ki chaat. These are pieces of vegetables or fruits filled with gram, peas, pomegranate, boiled potato & topped with spices & lemon. And consider the variety of items that can be stuffed: tomato, potato, apple, oranges, sweet potato, mango, cucumber, bananas!!!! So popular is this item here that he ran out of provisions by the time we reached his shop. Still, he managed to serve us a sample of the famous mango kulle. We satisfied ourselves with a round of crispy aaloo chaat.
A few steps ahead is a complex called Raghuganj, a part of Chawri Bazaar. Ask for the Jain Coffee House here. This stall is practically hidden away behind a grain market. The ‘secret passage’ leading to their shop is not more than 2 feet wide!!! And their specialty is fruit sandwiches: mango, pineapple, chikoo, grapes, apple. These guys even slice the grapes, so fine that each slice is transparent! Not to be missed is the range of shakes, coffee & tea to go along with the sandwich. And lest you think that you are not up for a sweet tasting sandwich, they also have a vegetable & samosa sandwich served with a dash of green chutney!
By this time most are full up to their necks. We take a short break by visiting the Jama Masjid. The best time to go there would be towards the evening when everyone is preparing to break the fast. You might even get invited to share the iftaar with some families in the courtyard of Jama Masjid. An excellent way to digest all that you have eaten so far would be climbing the minaret here. The southern minaret in the Jama Masjid is open for climbing and even though the stairs are narrow, step and one too many, the view from the top is worth it! You get a bird’s eye view of the Jama Masjid, the Red Fort nearby, & on a clear day, even as far as the river Yamuna. Not to mention the help in digesting all the chaat & kulfis.
Walking out of the Jama Masjid, enter the Matia Mahal area. On both sides of the street you will be greeted by stall of food, each more exotic than the other. Vermicelli piled up in heaps, dates, shahi tukda, ice cream, kababs, meat balls, lassi, sweets, dates, fruits…everything is here. It is a wonderland for gluttons! You could try Haji Mohd Hussain’s shop, famous for its fried chicken & fried fish. Sample some beef based ‘keema golis’ – an iftaar special. These are spicy keema balls best combined with onion and green chutney. Kallan Sweets, another famous shop here, has a range of sweets: meetha samosa filled with khoya, coconut and dipped in sweet chashni, paneer jalebis, phirni. We ended our food walk here with lassi, meetha samosa & sumptuous paneer jalebis!!
(posted by Kanika Singh & Kavita Singh, team members, Delhi Heritage Walks. Photos by Vinay Kumar & Amitabh Srivastava, regulars at our walks)