All of us delhiites know about the amazing food on offer in Old Delhi. We make sure our non-Delhi friends visit Karim’s and Old Famous JalebiWala. However, deep inside, we all know we are cheating ourselves–we know there is more to Old Delhi than this, we just haven’t been able to get off our asses for long enough to find it.
Enter Anubhav Sapra, the foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He has been conducting food walks for nearly 5 years now, and he personally conducts each walk himself. His knowledge of Old Delhi extends beyond just the food and drinks–he’ll tell you about the history, architecture and culture of a place, while he simultaneously navigates you to the best kulfi in the locality.
This depth of knowledge has translated into very dynamic walks, which Anubhav tailors to best fulfil the desires of the group. Hence, there are rarely two walks to cover the same places.
Our walk was themed as a ‘Beat the Heat’ walk to help tame the effects of Delhi’s summer, and was conducted in and around the unexplored lanes of Chandni Chowk.
We started off with fruit ice cream sold by Deepak Diwan, who is one of the two surviving ice cream cart owners in the area. What amazed me the most about this walk was the heritage of the food in Old Delhi. Deepak Diwan has been around for 35 years, which is an incredible amount of time, but still pales in comparison to the other places we visited. Kanwarji’s sweets and Ved Prakash Lemon Wale soda shop have been around for more than three generations!
This dal bijji has probably been eaten by everyone from the Mughals to the freedom revolutionaries.
After the ice cream, we had 3 drinks in quick succession–badam milk at Kanwarji’s, lemon banta at Ved Prakash Lemon Wale and finally flavoured lassi. My favourite was the lemon banta.
Mr. Prakash, a third generation businessman, proudly told us about how his grandfather started this lemon soda stall and explained how they developed the machines to carbonate the banta bottles with engineers from Germany.
The walls on the interior have developed a glorious patina, the result of having been left untouched for nearly half a century. Mr. Prakash has no plans to touch the walls up–he says that visitors love the feel of going to a really old shop.
After the drinks, we headed over to Giani’s for their kulfi falooda. I was so full at this point, I could only get a couple bites in. Post this, we took a short rickshaw ride to the Jama Masjid area, where we made our way into what I fondly call Meat Street.
This is the street which houses the culinary heavyweights of Karim’s and Al Jawahar. We walked right past those, and stopped at Haji Mohd. Hussain. Right at the entrance, workers were marinating, frying and cutting mountains of chicken, which hungry customers lapped up greedily. We joined the crowd that had spilled outside the restaurant and awaited our turn for seconds and thirds.
After the chicken, we sampled some kheer before walking to Kurelal Mahavir Prasad Kulfiwale, which due to Anubhav’s magic had remained open past its 9 pm closing time, specially for us.
Here we had what was, for me, the highlight of the walk–anar (pomegrenate) kulfi. I absolutely loved it. While the others tried flavour after flavour of kulfi (I think they had about 25), I resolutely stuck to the anar. The only thing that took my attention off of the anar kulfi was the stuffed mango kulfi.
This kulfi represented the tip of frozen dessert hedonism–the chef scooped out most of a mango including the seed, added kulfi inside and let it freeze. He then proceeded to peel the mango, slice it up and serve it. What an awful lot of work, but so worth it.
By now, we had been walking and eating for about 4.5 hours, and the time had really flown. Anubhav, the man behind Delhi Food Walks had ensured that we remained engaged throughout without getting bored. I am really thankful for his guidance–had it not been for him, I probably wouldn’t have visited most of these places even in the next dozen times I visited the area.
Such an experience reminds you to look within the folds, to read between the lines. There’s always a slightly less beaten path, even when you least expect to find it. I’m looking forward to my next food walk–do yourself a favour and join me!
Special thanks to Delhi Food Walks for inviting Spoon UDelhi to this wonderful walk. you can find them here on Facebook.