Fasting and feasting

Authentic Mughlai

Fasting and feasting

Soulful flavours: ‘Purani Dilli’ is a tribute to the way Delhi was.

The spartan, no-nonsense eatery  attracts an  abundance of connoisseurs who come here to thoroughly enjoy their food.  After each Ramzan fast, many regulars make their way here to enjoy a sumptuous treat.

The place is always  crowded and the inner cubicles too are overflowing with families and  purdah clad women.This place may not have a mention in guides and Lonely Planet shows but it has a charm and a following of its own. And it celebrates Mughlai food as if there is no tomorrow. Mughlai culinary art is acclaimed the world over for its delectable taste, barbecuing skills, authentic spices, sizzling cooking and timeless recipes and has millions of ardent admirers. Purani Dilli  brings back the memories of Shahjahnabad. Every item on the menu harks back to days of leisurely cooking and even more leisurely eating.

To give it a genuine Shahjahanbadi touch, the joint has pictures of old Delhi on its walls that recreate the grace of Jama Masjid, the grandeur of Red Fort, Delhi Gate and Ajmeri Gate, to name a few. Many  celebrities and intellectuals gather here these days to reminisce about old times as tongue-tingling aromas of roasted chicken waft out of a tandoor and a row of chicken tikkas sizzles in a clay oven.

 Purani Dilli actually as its name states, is the perfect representative of the historic Mughlai kitchen. Though there’ s no advertising, its fame has spread word of mouth and film stars, politicians, celebrities and tourists from the West in search of esoteric experiences of the gastronomic kind, find their way here.

The best item at the restaurant is undoubtedly the sizzling hot, pliable Chicken Changezi that just melts in your mouth. Second to none in this fare is the superb barbeque spread including the meltingly delicious Surmai, a boneless and thornless fried fish, available only here.

Among its other yummy treats are mutton dishes, many types of chicken and fish dishes, kebabs, rolls, curries, rotis, dals and much more.

 Those favouring rotis will find Baqarkhani Kulcha or Khaboosh, a slightly sweetened heavy bread, traditionally eaten with Kurmas  on festive occasions,  worth a try for its inimitable taste.

Delhi has a certain flavour and a history and its food must reflect both and with the diminishing food culture in and around Delhi, it is heartening to find places that still serve food from the heart and cook to please the soul and not just the palate.

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