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Delhi 6: Royalty to street food

Dilli 6 Food Festival traces the food history of the narrow lanes of Old Delhi that is beyond just chaats

Rakesh Kumar | New Delhi |

When one talks about Delhi food, it begins with crisp fried Aloo Chaat in a mélange of chutneys, or thick and juicy jalebis glistening with ghee. Certainly, these food items are appetizing. But is that all? Of course not ~ the food platter of Delhi 6 has much more than just chaat pakora. The old city shares an intimate relationship with food across the dynasties that have ruled the mainland, including Pandavas, Tomars, Mughals and Britishers.

They have brought their flavours to Delhi’s platter. The same goes for all migrant communities, who came here, settled down and made Delhi their home. These communities include Kayasthas, Baniyas and Punjabis. Therefore, one can find a mix of all those recipes ~ from the royal kitchens to roadside chaats. And the food at Purani Dilli (Old Delhi) is sumptuously garnished with culinary secrets that have been passed down through generations. “There is much more than just the chaat pakora in Delhi. We should not stereotype. Delhi has such a rich and vast variety of cuisines,” said Swaminadan, executive chef Crowne Plaza.

The Punjabis gave the city its widely-acclaimed Dal Makhani, Tandoori Chicken and Butter Chicken. Similarly, the Kolkata Kathi Rolls, Mughlai Parothas and Fish cutlets were brought by Bengali settlers. At the same time, Dosas, Iddiappams and Utthapams of the South Indian inhabitants further add to the richness of the local cuisine.

In a bid to apprise Delhi’ites about the rich food culture of their city, Edesia, a restaurant at Crowne Plaza Okhla, hosted the 9th edition of their annual Dilli 6 Food Festival from 16 February to 3 March. “One may say Delhi’s food has the influence of Mughals only. But doing a deep study, one would find that food of Delhi is a mélange of different rulers,” informed Swaminandan.

To give a look of Old Delhi, the restaurant features a red letter box with the postal code 110006, Chandni Chowk decor with silver fairy lights across the ceiling, Red Fort as the entrance gate, single screen theatre ticket counter, old style scooter for photo-ops, chaat thelas, Metro stations, historical monuments, photo series of posters of all iconic movies that have been shot at Old Delhi, several real elements (from a real Pandit ji to a paanwalaand bootwala), a market place consisting of elements from popular markets of Old Delhi such as Khari Baoli, Gulab Singh Johrimal, Katra Neel, Ballimaran Market, Khadi Baoli and Bhagirath Palace for shopaholics.

As for food, the well-crafted menu at the fest featured Subz-e-Zar, Mahi Subz Posh, BiBi Maryam ki Roti, Naan-e-Pista, Sarai ki Gosht Biryani, Jahangiri Quorma, Mian ki Halim, Prithvi Murgh ka Salan, Gosht Lagan Mela, Sunehri Tinda Moti, Nimone ki Dal, Matar Paneer Neze, Bharta Telai, Dil Bahar Do Piaza and much more.

For those who love the whiff of hot oil from the kadhai and tawas to indulge in tangy and spicy street food, there were Matra Kulcha, Aloo Tikki, Golguppa, Dahi Bhalle, Aloo Puri, Chole Bhature and Samosa.

The mithai section featured Gali Dariba ki Jalebi, Feroze ka Habshi Halwa, Shafiq Kheer wale, Chaina Ram ka Karachi Halwa, Kuremal ki Matka Kulfi, Daulat ki Chaat, More Lala ka Kada Doodh and Fatehpuri Lachcha Rabri to name a few.

The iconic Paranthe wali Gali was also recreated for guests to experience the deep fried, golden paranthas stuffed with delicious fillings ~ mirchi, nimbu, gobhi, methi, matar, papad, mix veg, mooli and mewa.