If you are a foodie, Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi would be nothing short of paradise for you. There is something interesting called the “paranthe wali gali” here. Parantha is a flatbread that was conceived in ancient North India especially in the region of Punjab. It is usually made with whole-wheat flour, pan fried in ghee or cooking oil, and often stuffed with vegetables, especially boiled potatoes, radish or cauliflower and/or Paneer (cottage cheese). A parantha (especially a stuffed one) can be eaten simply with a blob of butter spread on top but it is best served with pickles and yoghurt, or thick spicy curries of meat and vegetables.
Literally translated, parathe wali gali would mean the lane of flat-breads. This place is a must try for every foodie. Even if you have a hectic travel or volunteering schedule, do find some time to do some binge eating here. The food here is strictly vegetarian and the dishes do not even contain onion or garlic because their owners are Brahmins(the priest class who do not eat non vegetarian food) and traditionally their clientele includes Jains(again a class of Hindus who are strictly vegetarian for religious reasons). Chandni Chowk has been a home for diverse religious and ethnic groups, so the Gali has seen its fair share of history. In the past, the Gali had over ten to twelve shops parantha selling shops, but today there are only five left.
You can get off at the Chandni Chowk metro station and take a rickshaw to “paranthe wali gali” from there, or walk. Localites are usually friendly and asking for directions helps. As you enter the narrow lanes, an overwhelming aroma shall greet your nostrils. Once at the destination, you would be spoilt for choice. The first parantha shop in the gali is Pandit Devi Dayal’s. Babu Ram, the seventy-year old owner of the shop sits at the entrance, overseeing the making of the paranthas. A direct descendant of the original owners, Babu Ram said that the variety that is present today is a totally new phenomenon. He says, “50 years back, the paranthas were just of 3-4 types – the usual aloo gobi and matar (potato, cauliflower and peas) ones. But today, you can get almost 20 varieties of paranthas.” Babu Ram reminisces a time when the paranthas were served to patrons seated on the floor, on leaf plates with water in clay pots called kullars. Now however, benches and tables are mandatory. There are a few classics, like the aloo parantha(the parantha with a potato stuffing which is a household favorite in North India), mooli parantha(radish stuffing), gobi parantha(cauliflower stuffing) served with mint chutney. You also get an interesting spread- kaju, badam (dry fruits)and even rabri parantha (rabri is a thick creamy dish made from milk)! The paranthas are fried in pure ghee in cast-iron kadhais and are served steaming hot with a mind boggling variety of chutneys, vegetable pickles and raitas.
An aspect of historical significance- in the years just after independence, the late Jawahar Lal Nehru and Indira Gandhi came to take their parantha meals in this gali! Not just that, several famous Bollywood personalities like Vidya Balan & Rajat Barmecha have also been here. The popular actor, Akshay Kumar once lived on this street & is known to be very fond of this haunt! There are approximately 20 parantha shops and interestingly all belong to the same family! Don’t forget to choose from the delectable menu of desserts they have to offer! My personal favorite is “Badam Halwa”. No translation for that one, try it and find out what it is for yourself! 😉
Nearest Metro: Chandni Chowk
Sundays closed, open through the week
Caution: Beware of pickpockets
Clothing : Indian (Cover yourself)