Eateries of Old Delhi: A cruise to culinary delights

Qureshi’s kebab corner at Urdu Bazaar, Jama Masjid attracts in hordes many foodies and food connoisseurs. They have lately expanded the outlet to east Delhi’s Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar street number 10

Eateries of Old Delhi: A cruise to culinary delights
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Syed Wajid

If you are a food connoisseur and love to explore places to satiate your hunger pangs with toothsome and finger licking grub to tuck in even without making a dent in your wallet, old Delhi aka purani dilli comes flashing across your mind.

Braving Delhi traffic jams and hassle free parking is a problem. If you want to avoid all this and those congested lanes and labyrinths in the walled city you have another option beckoning to you. Place an order with Chicken Bakery for mutton nihari, Taufiq for pickled chicken biryani or mutton and chicken steaks at Qureshi top the culinary cruise.

Diners like Karim and Al Jawahar are known to be serving the best and most exquisite and palatable food. Qureshi's succulent and melt-in-your mouth chicken and mutton kebabs are quite inviting somewhat like Tunday's Kabab in Lucknow that was a very humble stall selling Bade ke Kebab to the working class till they decided to adopt the story of being Nawabi cooks and their secret 120 kinds of spices that go into the making of the kebabs.

Qureshi's kebab corner at Urdu Bazaar, Jama Masjid attracts in hordes many foodies and food connoisseurs. They have lately expanded the outlet to east Delhi's Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar street number 10. Their traditional charcoal sigri for skewering kebabs steaks wrapped in roomali roti with rings of onions and luscious chutney, wrapped in papery roomali roti calls attention. The show runs till 10 in the evening.

Nihari at Shabrati since 1957 in the walled city of Chitli Qabr's Haveli Azam Khan was a perfect treat of an authentic platter of nihari served with bone marrow and brain seasoned with ghee, sprinkled with ginger juliennes to dress the meaty bowl and served with piping hot khameeri roti straight from the oven in the front.

This wallet friendly Nihari hotel felt the pinch of lockdown, had to wrap up this long- decade gourmet journey. Mohammad Iliyas, the owner has come up with a new venture that deals in spices and groceries.

Shabrati was on a par with Haji Noora in Bada Hindu Rao, Kallu (both brothers no more, left legacy to the sons) at Chhatta Lal Mian, behind Delite Cinema, Nikka and Zafar's nihari in Jafrabad, north east Delhi, all are vying with each other to make a landmark on the menu of the mughlai cuisine. Kallu beats all at the race as his food show is well over within two hours.

Shahid's mutton Nihari and Baked Chicken

He alone gives a run to many veteran cooks in the city of Delhi for their money with his unique preparation of nihari, haleem or ragda in Mumbai or Khichda in Uttar Pradesh; expert at authentic mughlai a la carte. RJs Naved and Sayyed Arshad are immensely fond of Shahid for his culinary craft.

They call Shahid Khan 'master chef' for all that he cooks, particularly his juicy baked chicken served in one piece and relished with olive oil based dip (hollandaise sauce). "Chicken Bakery serves the best of mutton nihari and fat-free biryani. Baked chicken is our USP. Our finger-licking firni is one of a kind." Shahid famous in the fraternity of gastronomic delights, told in an excited tone. There are many passionately fallen in love with his banquet; he has on his list, a wide clientele of creamy strata of society.

Hailing from a humble background of Muzaffar Nagar, Khan took to the art of cooking like a duck to water. In the family, his mother was excellent at cooking all types of food.

The humble Khan is particular about condiments and oil used in preparation. "I do not compromise on ingredients whether it be meat, condiments or oil. Hygiene is my top priority.' the chef concluded on a note hospitality. Shahid specializes in catering rich authentic food on the doorstep on a shoestring budget.

Taufiq's Dil Pasand Biryani at Chitli Qabr

Biryani at Yameen in Jafrabad or Babu Shahi Bawarchi at Matka Peer near Pragati MaidanAchaari has few parallels in town. Moradabadi and Hyderabadi briyani sound more of a farce, a fake trending across the city.

However, there are many other eateries popular for their best preparation; pickled biryani at Taufiq is superb that invites the fancy of food lovers from across Delhi.

Tucked away in the of Haveli Azam Khan, the wafting aroma guides your nose if your olfactory senses are acute enough. Next moment you land up holding the tail of the queue leading to the joint with a couple of tall tables and one sitting area. You need to make your way through the crowd that throngs the eatery all day long; the crowd thins a little in the evening but picks up speed post 8. Worth a visit !

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