The pious month of Ramadan is here & Old Delhi is all geared up to welcome the festive times with all its charm. The bustling bylanes of Jama Masjid at Iftar time presents a gala feast for your senses ( irrespective of your appetite) , lots of dhakka-mukki (pushes all around), sea of smiling faces — all busy in themselves inviting you to the world never explored before. And food is the bridge that connects person to person, old world to new world, culture to culture, elderly to youngster and all. That annual ritual of an Iftar food walk in should of course be followed religiously without fail, considering the special delicacies in & around Delhi 6.
WARNING: The meat served in this area is mostly buffalo meat (yes, beef is banned, but not buffalo meat, (famously known as buff meat). Biryanis and kebabs will be mostly buff meat. When in doubt , ask (the shopkeepers).
So, lets take you on the culinary journey — the Jama Masjid Iftar Foodwalk. Best way to begin is to get down at Chawari Bazar Metro Station (Gate No.3) (not bringing your vehicle is the best thing you can do) and take rickshaw/e-rickshaw for Jama Masjid Gate No. 1. And best time to begin your walk is around 7pm (else you are in grave danger of missing out on Keema Samosa and Paneer Jalebis).
Jama Masjid Food Walk Map
Jama Masjid Gate No. 1 is on Urdu Bazar Road and the road lying in front of this gate is Matia Mahal road, which changes its name to Chitli Qabar road after 500 m down the road.
If Jama Masjid Gate No.1 is behind you, and you are facing Matia Mahal Road, then walk few paces on your left on Urdu Bazar road. You will find an elderly gentleman belting out kebabs. This is Qureshi Kebabchi (and also known as Guddu Bhai ki Dukaan) and he has a long list of patrons which has made him into an iconic place to enjoy your kebabs.
Qureshi Kebabs ( Photo Credit : Sanju Aneja )
Just in front of Qureshi shop, you will see Khuloos Dry Fruit shop. If you feel like taking back home something as a souvenir , there’s no better place than Khuloos — that sells more than 350 varieties of dates, including the ones dipped in chocolate , honey , pista & even apricot.
Dates from Khuloos ( Photo Credit : The Streets of Delhi)
(A little history of Urdu Bazar — This road used to be home for many Urdu publication houses in pre-independence era but slowly the urdu readership dwindled, new printing technology came up and left this road with more of kebabchis and less of publishing houses)
Ramadan food walk in old Delhi is all about what to eat & what to leave. Coming back again to Gate No.1 , just on the corner of Matia Mahal road, on the left side, you will see Kallan Sweets (75 year old sweets shop)– and this is where you will get the minced Keema Samosa, Khoya Samosa and Paneer Jalebis. And its not an exaggeration,when we say, you just can’t eat one. Rs 10 a piece, the keema samosa and Khoya Samosa will melt in your mouth. Beware, these samosas gets out of stock in a flash. Try reaching the Kallan Sweets before the Iftaar Namaz gets over. It finds a mention too by Anurag Sapra (Foodie in chief, Delhi Food walks) in Eateries you shouldn’t miss during Ramadan .
Paneer Jalebis at Kallan Sweets
Down the road, you will find Karims on your left. A visit to Karim’s (Established in 1913) is a foregone conclusion in this glorious outing of yours. A favourite among the tourist community, it’s Phirni & Kebabs will leave you craving for more. Chicken Jehangiri and Mutton Burra is a speciality here.
Chicken Jahangiri at Karim’s ( Photo Credit — Sahil Grover)
Next stop is Old Al Jawahar Restaurant and Rahmatullah Restaurant. Both of them exists for decades competing one other and dishing out some wonderful mughlai main course dishes. Chicken Stew (Ishtu, as it is called here), Buff Nihari, Chicken Korma, Mutton Korma are some of the delicacies which are best enjoyed with soft fluffy khameeri rotis served piping hot. And this itself is enough to make you come back again and again at these two eateries. In addition to these, Mutton Biryani at Rahmatullah is also recommended.
Chicken Stew at Al Jawahar ( Photo Credits: The Big Mouth)
There is also another hidden gem, Afsar Restaurant, but it can be quite tricky to locate it, passing through the small bylanes of Matia Mahal Area. First timer will have to strictly ask for directions . Afsar serves Mutton Korma, Nihari and khameeri rotis which will make all the efforts worthwhile. Karim’s, Al Jawahar, Afsar and Rahmatullah are strictly your main course options.
Chicken Korma at Rahmatullah
Just opposite Rahmatullah, you will spot Cool Point. But lets cover desserts little later . Aakhir meetha to khane ke baad hi pasand karenge aap. Hai na!!!
Walking ahead, crossing Rahmatullah, you will be greeted by fried chicken from Haji Mohammad. It’s finger licking juicy chicken coated with chickpea flour & marinated in spices will convince you that heavens can exist in a dish too (since 1975). KFC is passe. It’s HFC that rules the roost at Old Delhi. Served with rumali roti , onions & not to be missed spicy tangy chutney -it can give a good competition to Tabasco sauce .It’s must try food item in Old Delhi this Ramadan.
Fried Chicken From Haji Mohammad (Photo Credit — Nadeem Khan)
Nearby Haji Mohd, the next pit stop for you is the Biryani at Bilal that will make you choke with emotions. We don’t appreciate dishes so easily & believe us — it’ll make your day. So, fight it out for your turn even if hordes of people are scrambling for a bite & space here. The tender meat is cooked for hours & then simmered in gravy with spices and layered with long grained rice making it worthwhile going to Jama Masjid.
If the word Butter chicken brings some pleasant memories to you, then it’s time to re-jig all those memories of yours because Butter chicken (with a twist )here will blow away your mind. In true sense, Aslam serves tandoori chicken tikka in a gravy of curd and chutney with luxurious amount of melting butter on top of it. Chicken pieces literally float in curd and butter. This is now better known as Butter Chicken here, rather than chicken tikka or tandoori chicken. It is best enjoyed with roomali rotis and gulped down with cold drinks. You will see hordes of people around you spread on 4 floors of Aslam Chicken ordering only this — Butter Chicken — and enjoying at their own pace. Butter Chicken full plate which is sufficient for 3 people (even if they are the biggest meat lovers you have ever known) for Rs 400 and roomali roti costs you Rs10 apiece. No tomato purees here , only butter & only chicken. Yeah , the proof of pudding is in the eating. Delhi food walks have awarded them as the best butter chicken.
Butter Chicken from Aslam (Photo Credits — Chandni Sahni)
Just few paces away from Aslam is, Kale Baba Sutli Kebab Wale. And this is one new entrant that has taken the wind out of the sails of other Kebab outlets Sutli Kebas — they are so soft that they have to be held together with a twine of thread. Served on a green leaf, when unfolded , they will spread on your plate & you can wipe them off with mint chutney.
Beef Kebab from Kale Baba ke Kebab (Photo credit — Pratik Gulati)
One dish that can set your pulse racing is authentic Nihari from Haji Shabrati Nihari Wale . It is served with hot khameeri rotis. No wonder, it’s one of the best Nihari in Delhi.
Nihari from Haji Shabrati Nihari Wale (Photo Credits — Scoopwhoop)
And if you thought Roohafza Mojito at Crusty and Roohafza Milk at Indian Coffee House was perhaps the best Roohafza drink you had, then this refreshing drink called Pyar Mohabbat Mazaa ( the owner Nawab Qureshi calls it Mohabbat ka sharbat) is surely a strong contender to beat them. Mix of water, milk and Roohafza and topped with chunks of watermelon makes it one refreshing drink you can’t have enough of. To beat this prickly heat, this remedy is only for Rs 10 a glass. Jama Masjid Food Walk can’t be complete without it.
Watermelon drink -Pyar Mohabbat Mazaa ( Photo Credit : NDTV Food)
And just round the corner, walking towards Chitli Qabar Mosque, near the police barricades , you will find a big copper paraat filled with Gur ka Sharbat. Akhil Ahmed, the owner can be found sitting atop his non descripit shop without any board or sign selling gur ka sharbat for Rs 5 a glass. This sharbat is made of jiggery (gur) soaked in ice cold water, strained and served chilled cold. And it surely quenches your thirst , almost giving you wings. The brass spoon used to mix the two has seen everything from 1947 when the drink was being sold for 1 paisa. The Delhi summers might force you to say “Bhaiya, ek aur dena”. But, do remember, there are several other frontiers yet to be conquered.
Gur ka Sharbat (Photo Credits — Scoopwhoop)
On your left of police barricades, you will see a narrow street leading you to Pehalwan ki Biryani and Ameer Sweets. and any feast to Jama Masjid can’t be complete without Pehelwan ki Biryani. The saffron flavoured rice intermingled with pieces of meat (cooked seperately & marinated with salt & chillies) will fulfill the wish of your taste buds in style. Their Mirchi Masala Biryani is must try . The owner, Haji Mohd. Anwar opens his shop at 5 pm & serves Biryani till 2am.
Pehalwan’s Biryani ( Photo Credit- Huffingnton Post)
Ameer Sweets serves you piping hot Khoya Samosa which are hot selling during Ramadan. A Keema samosa that is racing up the popularity charts can be found at Ameer Sweet House . It has been selling sweets since the last 100 years. You’ll find a lot of people here gorging into gulab jamuns & balushahi. Ameer and Kallan Sweets compete among themselves for Khoya and Keema Samosa and believe us, both are winners.
And deeper inside the same lane as of Pehalwan Biryani, the biryani lovers will also love to feast at Dilpasand Biryani following the aroma of kewaras (flowers of pandanus) .
Dilpasand Biryani (Photo Credits — Sanju Aneja)
From gur ka Sharbat shop, keep walking on Chitli Qabar road and you will find a small (means very small) blue board on your right , written “Babu Bhai Kebab Wale”. Yes, the famous Babu Bhai Dori Kebab wala is here. Dori Kebabs & Jigar kebabs from Babu bhai ke kebab will tempt you to stop by and savour these buff meat delicacies. Though enjoying the taste of Jigar kebab is difficult for beginners, but dori kebab will vanish from your plates in no time. It’s guaranteed. . The crisp spicy kebabs melt in your mouth & seeing it getting skewered with threads before getting grilled is a delight. The two brothers have mastered the art of delighting the foodies like you through kebabs. It’s even featured in Best Kebabs of Delhi by LBB.
Kebabs Babu bhai Kebab Wale (Photo Credit — Yummraj)
After this, keep walking for another 100m and you will find Hamdard Dawakhana, and beside it you will Laung Churey Wala in a handheld cart. And this is vegetarian dish in all the dishes covered so far. Laung churey kebab are served with red chillies, amchur , salt & garam masala . We didn’t find them great though. But don’t stop here, make your own judgement.
One last stop, before we start walking back, there is Flora Bakery in Chitli Qabar Extension. Sheermal bread (contains flour, semoline , jams & butter) from Flora bakery is our personal favourite. Famous for it’s cakes & pastries, the bakery makes special breads during Ramadan to be eaten with milk for Sehri.
Floral Bakery ( Photo Credits — Hindustan Times)
Now coming back near to Rahmatullah, the ones with sweet tooth definitely need to park themselves at Cool Point (below Garib Niwaz guest house) for Shahi tukda(read deep fried in pure ghee and then dipped in thick cream and sugar syrup) for a delightful sugar rush in the bloodstream. After this hot dessert, you need to order for Mango ice cream and you wont have made better choice in your life (except for choosing to read this before going to Jama Masjid) (another pro tip — ask for single scoop of ice cream, before you decide whether to go for more or not, else you will be straight away served two scoops… see, we saved you some money there :)) . Rabri, Phirni and Badam Milk are other desserts which should not be missed here.
Shahi Tukda from Cool Point ( Photo Credits — Salt & Sandals)
Rounding off the Ramzan foodwalk at Old Delhi would be a visit to Haji tea stall (which is just 2 shops away towards Jama Masjid) which serves khalijas ( a kind of pancake) & Pheni (vermicelli dish) from 1am till dawn for Sehri mainly.
Haji Tea Stall
Looking out for special dishes( which are healthy too) for Sehri , we will come back again. Keep looking out for us. For those who are fasting , Google companion will take care of your little things , while you focus on bigger ones. If you are looking for the company for Foodwalk , you can join the TimeOut Foodwalk Old Delhi starting from today or Delhi Food Walks who have carved in niche for themselves.. The ones in Bengaluru , Hyderabad & Mumbai can have taste trails guidance here.
Originally published on Wordpress