Old Delhi Foods delivers parathas, chaat, butter chicken and more, from the walled city to our homes
For a spell of instant magic in the good old days, I often used to visit a corner of Chawri Bazar, near the Metro Station. This was a place called Ashok Chat Corner, and it sold the most delicious papri-chaat that you could ever imagine. There was a time, years ago, when women of the neighbourhood would sit on their little murhas by the chaat counter once they had a free hour or so. They would have a nice chatty session while they dug into their bhalla papri and popped golgappas.
That was, of course, a long time ago, when there was hardly any traffic. Now you can’t think of sitting anywhere on the road in Chawri. Worse, you can’t think of going there either, in these COVID-19 times.
I had really been missing my Old Delhi sojourns. And then I heard about a great service that had started in the city. A platform called Old Delhi Foods delivers food from Old Delhi to you. I went to the website and found that they bring food from eateries such as Chaina Ram, Shyam Sweets, Kuremal, Lotan Kulchey Chholey Wallah, Shiv Misthan Bhandar, and Natraj. They will get you fried parathas from Parathey Wali Gali, chicken kali mirch from Al Jawahar and butter chicken from Aslam. And they even deliver food from old favourites that are not in Old Delhi, such as Ashok and Ashok Meat Wallah in Sadar and Sitaram Chholey Bhaturey in Paharganj.
We had some friends coming over one day, so I asked for four plates of papri chaat (₹135 a plate) from Ashok, and dal urad fry (₹210), paneer butter masala (₹230) and baigan bharta (₹205) from Shakahari in Chandni Chowk. With shipping and handling charges of ₹150, I paid a total of ₹1,335.
The rates, I think, are a little higher than what the eateries charge. Orders and payments have to be done online (via olddelhifoods.com; 7289938122 and 9311734330).
The service is now only available in Delhi, and for a minimum order of ₹900. The chaat was as good as it used to be. I love Ashok’s chaat for its balanced flavours — nothing is too sweet or too tangy or too hot. They use yellow chilli powder, which is pungent but not red hot. Freshly roasted and ground cumin adds to the taste, as does a pinch of rock salt.
The chaat was well packed. Each ingredient — papri, bhalla, curd, saunth (sweet red chutney), boiled chholey, potatoes, kachalu and masala had been packed separately. I mixed them together, and the chaat disappeared before I could say, ‘Have some more.’
I was, however, a bit disappointed with the Shakahari fare. I have had some great meals there, and there is nothing quite like having their dal and sabzi with delicious besan rotis. Shakahari, also in Chawri Bazar, is known for its urad dal. But this time I found it a bit too runny. The paneer, again, was in a buttery sauce that didn’t quite work for me. The bharta tasted good; the brinjal had been roasted well. Of course, the food was all cooked in desi ghee, so the flavours were nice.
Old Delhi Foods, I must say, is doing a great service. Can’t go to Old Delhi any more? Fret not — it will bring Old Delhi to you!
The writer is a seasoned food critic