Take a casual stroll in the spider-web like lanes of Old Delhi and relish the delicious biryani, chocolate paan, keema samosa and so much more to feast on during Ramzan.
With the onset of Ramzan, Old Delhi becomes a great one-stop shop for Iftar delicacies. As the sun sets, Muslim families break their fasts with a feast they refer to as Iftar. And all roads seem to lead to Old Delhi, drawing people towards it with its blissful aromas.
To enjoy the true charm of Ramzan feasts, we decided to walk into the lanes of Old Delhi with its spider’s web of small food shops and corners. And what better way to do it than with a guide? We joined an Iftar Walk organised by Anubhav from Delhi Food Walk.
This food walk is conducted mostly for visitors who have never experienced the food culture of Old Delhi especially during Ramzan. Moderately priced at Rs 800 per person, we started from Chawri Bazaar metro station, Gate no. 3 and stopped at Jama Masjid for a brief 30-minute orientation on Ramzan and Iftar.
Orientation done, we moved towards Old Matia Mahal road to understand their food culture. Most of the dishes we encountered were those that are prepared only during Ramzan, especially for Iftar. The best time to be here is at 7.30pm, after which the streets get really crowded with people flocking here to enjoy the food on offer.
We started with the Special Kheema Samosa with chutney from a street-food vendor located a few steps away from Jama Masjid. It had a rich cardamom and garlic flavour and was soft and chewy. It tasted even more fabulous because we were having it hot from the pan.
Then we moved onto the one-of-a-kind Fried Chicken at Haji Mohammad Hussain food stall. Now if there’s anything which gives tough competition to KFC, it is this. We are still guessing if its crispness came from beaten eggs, but the cook refused to share the secret.
And then there was the utterly sublime, butter chicken at Aslam Chicken Corner. This is the king of all butter chickens. Moti Mahal et al, don’t come anywhere close to it. Roasted chicken is simmered in a gravy topped with melted Amul butter and served with Roomali Roti. You have to taste it to believe it.
After OD-ing on chicken and manoeuvring through the crowds in the hot, humid weather, we needed some respite. So we made our way to a roadside vendor serving Sharbat. We drank a glass of Tarbooz Sharbat which had chunks of watermelon, a spoon of Roohafza syrup, milk and lots of ice cubes to beat the prickly heat.
After which, we walked further into the market, passing many kurta and burkha shops and smaller shops selling coloured bangles and ittar fragrances and many, almost way too many, food stalls. Anubhav, who seems to know the lanes of Old Delhi like the back of his hand, then halted at Dil Pasand Biryani where we all savoured a plate of beef biryani. Chunks of fried beef were cooked in refined oil and mixed with long grains of rice.
After walking kilometers and stuffing ourselves with authentic Iftar food, we were craving some sweets. Our first stop for dessert were some small sweet shops adjacent to each other, sharing the same wall. First up was, Khoya Samosa – fried sweet samosa made with flour and stuffed with khoya and dry fruits. Up next was, Phirni – a rice and milk-based dessert flavoured with cardamom and saffron. The last on the list was Kulfi Falooda. While it sadly wasn’t topped with rose syrup, the chilled kulfi mixed with the noodle like falooda was a delicious end to our long, tiring and absolutely fulfilling foodie-walk.
But it’s never over until it’s over. The same vendor offered us all a complimentary Iced Chocolate Pan – which was the most unique combination of chocolate syrup and crushed ice spread on betel leaves. Nothing authentic or traditional about this – but we weren’t complaining. With flavours of iced chocolate still lingering on our taste buds, we rolled back satiated towards the metro station.
Anubhav is organizing two Iftar food walks this Ramzan, timings will be – 6.00pm from Chawri Bazaar metro station, Old Delhi to anytime until 10:00pm.. If you want to get a guided culinary tour, you could always book a space for yourself, contact Anubhav from Delhi Food Walk at #9891121333. Otherwise, it’s as much fun to venture through the lanes on your own. There’s a lot to discover and even more to eat.
Must try: Kheema Samosa, Butter Chicken and Phirni
Meal per person: Rs 850 (all inclusive)