Grab the gooey magic at Jama Masjid

SWEET SAVOURY: The place offers a variety of tasty desserts

UNUSUAL COMBINATION Mohammad Zahid (extreme left) selling shahi tukda with ice cream. You’ve not seen Delhi, if you have not seen Jama Masjid. But, you’ve not felt Delhi, if you have not stopped by for some finger-licking and mouth-watering sweet nothings that dot almost every corner here.

The market comes alive at night and is lit up every day till 1 am. All you need to do is brave your way through shoppers, beggars and hawkers to get a slice of your favourite shahi tukda or phirni.

Naseeruddin decks his cart with sweet delicacies attracting evey passer-by in Urdu Bazaar. His lighting arrangements might be changeable but the taste of his sweets is not. The phirni (kheer) made of milk, rice, khoya and sugar is served throughout the winters here.

Walk a little further, and you enter a foodies’ paradise called Matiya Mahal. The narrow street with shops on both sides get further contracted, with makeshift shops selling sweets, which start shaping up as the night sets in.

Kamaluddin sits at a stool in his sartorial elegance with another stool, full of small transparent cups filled with phirni. Making this gooey dessert since 1979, Kamaluddin reveals, “I make and sell phirni out of passion otherwise by God’s grace I have everything to live a satisfied life.”

The same street also has a number of joints serving hot shahi tukda with fried bread as its base and a rich topping of rabri and dry fruits in a liquid pool of desi ghee and chashni.

Nayyar Iqbal has been making shahi tukda since last six years and regards it as one of the most favourite sweets in winters which makes people from all parts of the world, come to Chandni Chowk. But Mohammad Zahid sells it with a combination of his ice creams. A confident Zahid says, “I have been making shahi tukda for the last 25 years and I believe it tastes the best with ice cream.” In reality, his shahi tukda with mango ice cream, is the best combination and a must try for all!

But, there is more to be unravelled here. Kallan Sweets kadai ka dudh with chunks of cream and sugar is a temporary respite from the chilling winter. The USP of this joint is its habshi halwa which is a recipe that came to India during the time of Mughals. Mehboob Illahi, Kallan’s brother (who started the shop in 1938), explains, “The habshi halwa is specially made during winters with wheat, sugar, gondh, javitri, jayfal, ilaichi, laung and desi ghee.” The brown coloured halwa is not too sweet in taste and is also known to provide immunity against cough and cold.

Gajar ka halwa and moong dal ka halwa are also few of the winter specials that people look out for. Ravi Behl, an NRI, on his visit to India, doesn’t miss a chance to taste the gajar ka halwa from this food paradise. Ravi says, “Whenever I come back to India, I try to visit this market at least once because I love the desi ghee ka gajar ka halwa at this place which doesn’t taste as good in other place.”

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