Shahjanabad – Delhi’s eating district

Memory is funny, it is something to be cherished as it gives joy but also that it cages one in its extremities, especially when people are going through these difficult times of the current pandemic. Fond memories of childhood days in the Old Delhi erstwhile known as Shahjahanabad engulf with a sense of nostalgia and especially the streets where food smell swamps the entire atmosphere.

The walls and the magnificent minarets of the Jama Masjid are always been a nectar to the eyes and looks imposing every time, but even more is the flavours of food which through small shops.  Life in the walled city of Shahjahanabad was a delight for people from all walks of life and for all age groups. The food here is blend from different cultures making it more composite but yet flavourful.  Everyday seemed to be like a feast, there was also a sense of caring for others and that’s how food was shared with others.

Halwa or semolina sweet sold in narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad and eaten with crisp savoury crackers called mathi is in itself a weird combination especially for people who have not experienced the life in Old Delhi

Matri Kulcha along with a spicy mix of peas and potatoes sold out of small boxes secured safely on the back of a bicycle especially it’s a fun to have this type of a meal during summers and there is a desire to eat which is not hot. It’s a simple meal, tasty, tangy and yet affordable by the masses.

Tangy Chhat

To everyone’s delight there is always and the timeless Dilli ki Chaat to suit different tastes. Large varieties of chaat includes the irresistible  Pani-puri, papri chaat, chole mathri and also some unique innovations like palak ki chaat made from spinach which today one even finds in fancy eating joints.

The Satpura samosa which gets its name from the seven times twisted border which turned up in the evenings and the aloo tikkis or potato patty sometimes to make it a bit extravagant stuffed with sliced nuts for a bit of a crunchy touch and then fried till those days all seemed to be clean and hygienic to be had at the street side.

Now a famous brand Giani’s ice cream, but initially it was just a small shop selling kulfi and kids would line up the shop to enjoy the cold delight in the sultry afternoons. The meat delights often came from Karim’s now that too has become a big name. Karim’s was a name for the meat loving people know for its fine kebabs and other meat dishes.

Distant, but taste calls back

As the affluent migrated from the Old Delhi towards Southern part the culture of the old Delhi started to dwindle. Today when we have big malls and fancy restaurants but still they can never produce the same aroma and taste which is lost in the childhood days spent in Shahjahanabad.

In this pandemic, which also makes us look inwards, about our own selves, of the childhood days as compared to the present generation and many such thoughts which baffle our memories, many must have tried their hands upon various dishes which once they favoured the most and fed their children who are often in the opinion of ordering food online, but alas none can replicate those beautiful smells and the taste buds that tickle for those flavours which are lost in thin lanes of Shahjahanabad. Cooking and feeding family and to the unprivileged is truly relaxing as a lot many sleep without a morsel, so food we eat should be with gratitude

Today’s generation have no clue of what the life was at Shahjahanabad, the foods and flavours and as the saying goes that there is always something to feed upon and that no one goes hungry in Shahjahanabad.