Dilli – a foodie’s delight and Green Peas Parantha

Thankfully, it’s still January and I’m in time to wish you a delicious new year! May you experiment, cook, eat and share a lot more than the year that went by, and still be hungry for more.

As for me, I am one content girl right at the beginning of this year. All credit goes to my year-end vacation in North India. If I have it my way, I’m going to end every year gorging the amazing food from the colder parts of India. And if I had to sum up my food trail vacation in Delhi-Chandigarh-Amritsar in one word, I’d say it was- B-L-I-S-S-F-U-L. I may have added a lot of extra kilos, but it was totally worth it. On the brighter side, I’m now a lot more dedicated to my physical fitness than ever before. Got to lose the extra weight 🙂

But, before I begin to share the wonderful stories and pictures from my trip, I want to say Kanika, your post on the family recipe of Gosht do Piaza Lal Mirch was so tempting that for a moment I forgot I was vegetarian. And I unabashedly admit that I would have made a dash for that sumptuous dish had I been sitting across it in your cozy little dining space. It looked heavenly!

Back to my food trail, let me begin with Delhi. Even before I set foot in the capital city, I was dreaming about Paranthas with lots of makkhan (homemade butter), Lassi (the traditional Indian yoghurt drink, yes! I was craving for it even in the winters), Kulche and Chole and other lip smacking street food.

This eatery serving Paneer Kulcha and Chole is right at the beginning of the Paranthe wali gully in Chandni Chowk. If you’re looking for a hygienic place to eat at, then don’t venture into Chandni Chowk at all. It’s like any other old-city area in an Indian city but replete with recipes that have lasted much longer than our lifetime. My adventure of eating from these roadside shops wasn’t bad at all, but then I have cultivated a robust digestive system by now 🙂

However, the Kulchas were fried to perfection and the Chole with Pyaaz (onions) were just perfect. I shared this plate with a dear friend, and the least to say was that it was clean in minutes.

Kulche-Chole

The kulcha melted in the mouth, literally. The chole were the best I had tasted during my entire trip.

Inside the Parantha wali gullly in Chandni Chowk were these naan khatai (desi cookies) sellers. Fresh bhatti (oven) baked, these pure ghee biscuits simply melted away in the mouth. They are slightly sweet and best had warm. The ones I kept for a while became soggy and didn’t have the same taste as the ones we had warm.

Naan-Khatai

One of these naan-khatai sellers clearly didn’t have any time for me, while the other had plenty of time to pose for a picture.

The parantha wali gully is named after the famous parantha eateries in this area. I was expecting there to be a dozen or so at least, but was surprised to find about three such eateries. My high expectations led to a little bit of disappointment when I saw them fry the Parantha in oil. I lost my appetite right then. Despite being a foodie, I couldn’t get myself to enjoy the Parantha at all. The paranthas by themselves weren’t too great and the accompaniments served were average too. The experience by itself was insane, with people queuing up to eat these Paranthas.

Parantha-Gully1
Preparing the masala to be stuffed inside the Parantha
Parantha-Gully2

Left: Our plate with an Aloo Gobhi ka Parantha and accompaniments- kaddu ki sabzi, aloo matar, pickled vegetables
Right: The cook preparing the masala to be stuffed in the parantha, the parantha being fried in oil and our plate waiting for the parantha

After stuffing ourselves with Paranthas, we headed to explore the Spice Market in Chandni Chowk where spices, dry fruits, farsan (snacks) and sweets are sold in large quantities. There was a crazy energy to this area and it smelled heavenly. An intoxication of some of the best spices like chillies, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, elaichi, fenugreek created such a riot of a smell which was further enhanced by the visual treat of large cartons being packed and shipped, workers laden with sacks of spices, rickshaw wallahs carrying away loads of secret spices.

spice-market

The spice market a few gullies away from the Parantha wali gully. Farsan (or fried snacks) and sweets sold wholesale in the spice market

I chanced upon this Jalebi wala preparing this traditional,  mouthwatering Indian sweet. He was happy to pose for me and even checked the pictures to evaluate whether I am a good photographer or not. FYI, I got his nod of approval 🙂

Jalebi

The Jalebiwala who posed for this wandering tourist-foodie

Lassi, or the traditional north Indian sweet yoghurt drink, is one of my favourite drinks. Mostly people would stick to tea, coffee or badam milk during the chilling winters, but I had to have the Lassi. Hardly do you get the original thing in Bombay. We tried the Lassi with Roohafza (a concentrated squash made of fruits) from Gianiji, a shop in Chandni Chowk.

Gianiji's-Lassi

The frothing of the yoghurt till it become sweetened by the sugar and frothy.

Street-Food

More street side food (which we didn’t have).
Left: Aloo tikkis being warmed before serving. Right: Gulab Jamuns waiting to be picked. You should try eating warm Gulab Jamuns with Ice cream. Tastes heavenly.

One afternoon, while window shopping on Janpath, we ate at Sarvanna Bhavan, the classic South Indian restaurant chain found in cities around the world. My first experience at a Sarvanna Bhavan was in Chennai and it was unforgettable, to say the least. People swarming in and out during lunch hour, the quick and no frills service, sumptuous meals and the famous filter coffee to swallow your last bite down with. So having bumped into one in Delhi, was a blessing. If we had our way, we would have ordered everything on the menu, but this was what we went for.

Sarvanna-Bhawan1

Clockwise from left: Idli, Vada, Utthapa and Idiyappam

Sarvanna-Bhawan2

We couldn’t stop with just that… so a Butter Dosa and Filter Coffee was ordered even before the earlier order was consumed

Dilli Haat reminded me of Shilparaman in Hyderabad. Handicrafts and stalls from around India. We reached there late one evening, when the buzz of the stalls was being replaced by the calm of a winter night. But, thankfully were in time for some awesome Momos and Thukpa from the Manipur stall. I can’t get enough of Tibetan and East Indian cuisine, and was naturally attracted to all the splendid stalls serving my favourite- Momos. Sadly, it was closing time for most and one stall was all I had for my temptation.

Manipuri-Stall

Thukpa with Momos and the super spicy (secret) chutney

Before visiting Delhi, I had heard that the All-day American Diner was a must-visit place to eat at. Situated at the India Habitat Centre, home to the city’s throbbing art and culture scene, this place was a winner from the moment I saw a glimpse of it. The gorgeous and fresh sunshine flowers outside were so inviting and lovely. After waiting for a good part of half an hour, we were asked to choose between the buffet or a la carte. Just one look at the Sunshine Brunch menu, and the three of us present there had that rare telepathic moment. Despite the buffet closing down in about half an hour, we choose it and were not disappointed at all.

There was a really amazing line-up of items. With the best breads, cheese, salads, there was the delightful American Roasted Tomato Halves with Garlic Oil Drizzle, Baked Lentil And Porridge With Vegetables, Baked Hash with Mushroom and Corn , Basil Flavoured Sliced Lamb with Red Wine Sauce, Five Spice Chicken, Vermicelli Fried Fish, Grilled Bacon, Grilled Chicken Sausages, Eggs to Order, Pasta (Pesto, Arabiatta, Alfredo). And this only a part of the menu 🙂

American-Diner

The outside seating under the winter sunshine, a perfect venue for the Sunshine Brunch on a lazy Saturday (or Sunday).

A visit to Delhi would be incomplete without a visit to the beautifully lit up malls for Christmas and New Year’s. So I was told. You can see the pictures yourself to imagine the grandeur and magnificence inside these malls. I savoured Pretzels while here, with a beautiful Red Velvet Cupcake from Aunty Annie’s and Cinnabon respectively.

Cinnabon

Left: Beautiful Christmas lights in Select CityWalk
Right: Garlic and Cinnamon Pretzels from Aunty Annie’s and a pretty Red Velvet Cupcake from Cinnabon

More pretty lights from DLF Place, Saket.

Xmas-celeb

The decorations at DLF Place, Saket and the small bites complementing the decor

We also did a pit-stop at Dunkin’ Donuts, only because we don’t have this American Chain in Mumbai. Greedy me wanted to lay my hands on whatever I could get hold of. The burgers were good and we got the donuts free.

Dunkin'-Donuts

Clockwise from left: Cheese and Mushroom Cupwich, Tough Guy Veg Bagel Burger, Donuts, Orange Coolatta at Dunkin’ Donuts

happiness

Lights. Lights. and Lights!

And now, to my most favourite place and meal from the trip. Yeti – The Himalayan Kitchen at Hauz Khas Village. THE place for Himalayan food! One glimpse at their menu written on a blackboard that indicated ‘Tibetan Specials’ for the day, had me. After soaking in the Hauz Khas views and meeting cousins, friends for coffee, we headed for dinner at Yeti. The steamed bread was a revelation and so was the crispy spinach ( don’t I always say Spinach is wonderful and versatile 🙂 You should also try the waiwai sadeko, noodles with masala. The aloo and chana were more like what we make in other parts of India but with a secret seasoning, which I’m assuming is a secret guarded by the Himalayas.

The pictures I took are a bit messy, but that’s because we couldn’t resist and just had to dig in mouthfuls of this amazing stuff. Two friends who accompanied us, and did not want to stay for dinner, enjoyed the dishes thoroughly 🙂 That’s the charm of food from and around the Himalayas.

If you get a chance to visit Delhi, keep this place on your list of must-visit if you haven’t already been to the Himalayas already.

Yeti2

Left: Yeti Special Veg Platter with Aloo Sadeko, Bhuteko Chana, Waiwai Sadeko and Tingmo (steamed bread)
Right: Veg Steamed Momos

This crispy Spinach took us by surprise, really. Did not imagine Spinach to be on my Dinner table in this form. Ever!

Yeti1

Crispy Spinach served with Tingmo and Veg Thukpa (in the background)

So, now that I have tempted you with so much food from my trip, now’s when I share my recipe 🙂

Here’s how to make Green Peas Parantha- nutritious and tasty! It was made for breakfast by my sister’s mother-in-law, especially for me. She even let me take pictures of her preparing it in the kitchen and shared the recipe with me.

GREEN PEAS PARANTHA

INGREDIENTS:

For the dough:

400 grams Wheat Flour
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons Oil
Water to knead

For the stuffing:

500 g/ 1 cup Green Peas peeled
2 Green chilies finely chopped
2 teaspoons ginger grated
1-2 tablespoon oil
pinch of haldi (turmeric)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dhania (coriander) powder
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin)
Few sprigs fresh green dhania (coriander)
salt to taste

METHOD:

Pressure cook the peas till they are soft and let them cool.

Knead the dough with a pinch of salt and warm water. Knead well with your hands till the dough is light and fluffy. I have learnt this technique recently- to make super soft paranthas/ rotis, you have to knead the dough well and let it rest for atleast 20 mins. Set aside your dough for about 20-30 mins.

Add the cooled peas to a mixer-grinder, add in the chilies (de-seed if they’re too spicy), grated ginger, fresh dhania (coriander) leaves and coarsely grind the mixture.

Heat oil in a kadai (skillet) and add the jeera (cumin) to the hot oil. Then add the peas mixture and add haldi (turmeric), chili powder, dhania (coriander powder) and salt to taste. Cook for a few minutes and let this mixture cool.

Paronthe1

Fry the masala in a little bit of ghee/ butter/ oil to your liking and stuff it in the atta (wheat) dough

Take a little dough and knead it into a ball. Flatten it and put a small ball of the peas mixture inside. Cover up the rolled dough and flatten again. Flatten the dough to make a Parantha and put it on a heated tava (girdle). Cook it a little from one  side and turn over and apply oil. Repeat the same for the other side. Cook on medium-high heat till your parantha looks cooked.

Paronthe2

After putting in a generous amount of the Peas masala inside, roll the dough and flatten the parantha

Paronthe3

Fry the Parantha with a little oil on a tava (griddle) and work up your appetite

Serve and eat the Parantha with a dollop of Makkhan (homemade butter), readymade butter or youghurt and pickle. Although this Peas Parantha taste amazing even by itself and makes for a great breakfast dish or quick lunch/ dinner.

The good thing about the Parantha is that it is high in Proteins due to the Peas. And since winter is the time for fresh, sweet peas flooding the markets, especially in India, this Parantha is best enjoyed when the temperatures outside are dipping.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures from my amazing Delhi trip as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you. Kanika has lived in Delhi as a student for a quite while, and I’m sure someday she can share more from the capital city when she sits down for a long and very intriguing conversation about the city.

Till then, enjoy cooking, learning and sharing. While I get ready to share my post on how things went on the other amazing journey – PUNJAB! :)~

~Akkta

 

P.S.: Here’s a real special thank you to all those who made the trip much, much more than just memorable. Dealing with an obsessive foodie like me is no easy task but friends (really, really old one and those who I rarely meet) and family (the most amazing sister, her equally wonderful husband and parents) made every meal even more special by sharing it with me. I’m full (pun intended) of gratitude for each of you!

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