A feast from the streets of Delhi- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

CHENNAI: As a kid, my first trip to Delhi was an early morning stop at New Delhi train station. While the details of the trip are blurred, the shops and carts along the road serving rabdi and kulfi for breakfast remain fresh in my memory. A palate, accustomed to only South Indian breakfast until then, was drooling to want more. It was a déjà vu on Friday as we tasted the street delicacies of Chandni Chowk, Lajpath, Dariyaganj, Paharganj and other districts of Purani Dilli – all within two hours in namma Chennai.

Delhi in Chennai
Novotel Chennai Chamiers Road’s 12-day food festival, S’treats’ of Delhi, is a foodie fest that features live stations as part of their buffet and also sprinkles some of Delhi’s favorite dishes. Although the hotel has held many food festivals, this one seems close to the heart of chef Umesh Singh. When he takes us to explain Delhi street food – even if that’s possible – he greets us with a broad smile that gets even bigger.

Taking us to the makeshift Moolchand Parantha live station, he says: “When I was working as a Japanese chef in Delhi, we used to go to Moolchand for a snack. They make hot homemade parathas, frothed with ghee and served with chaat masala sprinkled on top. 3am in the morning. They were open until 4. That’s what we want to offer. Here we also serve the famous pan delicacies at this counter Matarlı kulcha, keema pav, a brief overview of the famous street food.

From there we make a u-turn to Prince Chat Corner. We’re told that Prince’s is a popular restaurant in the national capital known for its delicious chaat, and three to four items will be served as part of the food festival’s circular menu. On our way to the table, we stop by a stall serving chaas and rosemary made from Rooh-Afza, an instant stall, and Delhi’s famous kulfi stall.

Reproducing iconic and sought-after dishes required an experienced hand and palate. Likewise, the food festival features chef Sabir from Pullman New Delhi. “I like to spend time with my family at Purani Dilli whenever possible. The delicacies I’ve prepared here are all popular delicacies you can find in Delhi,” the slurred man says, before returning to his place and letting his creations speak, which will change every day during the festival.

menu makers
Rose milk is a refreshing start to this culinary journey. The tiny pieces of watermelon and pomegranate pearls in it not only matched the color of the drink, but also enhanced its taste. For starters, there is chaat. There are regulars on the menu – bhelpuri, genius puri, genius papdi chaat, sev puri and pani puri. Served in a sal leaf bowl, the quantity is just right for an appetizer. We prefer the genius puri, sev puri and one piece pani puri. The sweet filling of the dahi puri makes it a light votive, while a little squeezed lemon over the sev puri is a nice hug for the throat. A word from the wise chaat-lover: Stop and smell what is cooking. You don’t want to load them all before you taste them.

The fare offered to us includes specialties from around Jama Masjid in Delhi. What’s a North Indian feast without tandoori and kebab? And the menu had Tandoori Subz Khazana and Chicken Reshmi Kebab. The second, marinated in a mix of curd, cashews, and other spices, became instantly popular for its crunchy exterior and juicy interior, but the former is something we wouldn’t hesitate to skip because the vegetables, especially babies, are raw. Corn and cauliflower are not for everyone.

Cleaning our palate with thin, cold chaas, we dive straight into the pan offerings – matar kulcha, paneer paratha and keema pav. For vegetarians, the pavilion is served with paneer keema and for non-vegetarians there is chicken or mutton keema. Chef Umesh warns us that food can be spicy. But it seemed to us that the chefs deliberately lowered the spice levels to appeal to their guests. The juicy chicken keema was a bit heavy considering the ground beef was covered in butter. Delicate pieces were blended in the masala to impart a tangy flavor. Both keemas were perfectly blended with finely chopped onions and green chillies, paired with the deep-fried pavilion. If you prefer egg delicacies over meat, try the counter as soon as there are many unique options, from the bread omelette to the pavilion served with masala eggs.

“Delhi street food has a variety of non-vegetarian options. We do vegetarian varieties when specified. There are many favorites like nihari kulcha and chicken korma,” says Chef Sabir. While this is quite evident in many of the live stall offerings and sauces featured on the menu, there are also some homemade comfort foods for vegetarians that deserve a star. The ubiquitous baingan ka bharta can be paired with a simple Delhi-style aloo-beans ki subzi, chana dal tadka, and choke matar, paratha, kulcha, or any bread treat. On the other hand, the aromatic Kachche Murgh ki Biryani is a rich addition to the street food palette. Rice grains mixed into masala with tender chicken provided a fine, satisfying biryani experience. Mutton Martaban, a Purani Dilli specialty, was gooey when paired with biryani, making it even more delicious.

When we, with a hearty stomach, decided to pack it up, we were reminded of the kulfi counter – a round copper-clad vessel filled with ice cubes to cover the kulfi cones, with bowls of nuts neatly set aside to garnish. We take a deep breath and remember that there is always room for dessert. And we would be sinning if we skipped those calories. The creamy decadent dessert lavishly garnished with nuts and rabdi is the perfect way to finish off your meal and go for a second or third serving if you like.
The price is 1,450 rupees and the food festival for dinner continues until January 31st. For details call: 7825808005, 7824808013.