In the heart of old Delhi's commercial hub, Chandini Chowk, lays a historical landmark since the time of the Mughals - the "Paranthe wali Gali." A very famous street, "Paranthe wali Gali" (‘gali' means street that sells ‘paranthas' - an Indian food delicacy, sort of chapatti) has seen almost three passed centuries.
It houses descendants of the royal chefs of yore who make Paranthas that taste heavenly. So much so, that the Parantha is perhaps the only food in the world to have an entire street named after it!
The first impression of the gali is that of a bustling narrow by lane, crowds walking, bikes, cyclists' driving past, people browsing through the sari and jewellery shops! But as one strolls deeper into the street there begins an irresistible tingling sensation in the nostrils. And one looks around sniffing the air for more of it and then you know for sure that you're in the right place. Sizzling hot paranthas are being fried here! Each day the dexterous hands of these chefs toss out the most amazing concoctions of a parantha.
Plain paranthas, salted or sweet paranthas, dal (pulses) ka parantha, gobhi ka parantha
(minced cauliflower), radish parantha, pudina parantha (mint), popadom parantha, cashew nut parantha - the variety is endless. You name it and they have it! All one is required to do is to knead some dough into small balls, roll it on a wooden base, add
fillings ranging from cottage cheese, potatoes sprinkled with chopped ginger, and exotic Indian spices, fry it in ghee or butter and viola, it's the perfect recipe for a lip-smacking
At the moment there are about 40 varieties of paranthas and these chefs plan to add another 50 varieties in the coming years. The Paranthe wali gali caters only for the pure vegetarian - even no onion and no garlic!
What's different about the paranthas of Chandini Chowk is that they are fried in a kadhai, which is a griddle of sorts but very deep almost like an iron bowl. So the paranthas are doused in ghee or butter. The more oil used for frying the parantha the tastier it gets. It definitely is a satiating experience.
Earlier in the 1980s the gali had thirteen eateries cooking these sumptuous paranthas. But as more and more families are diversifying into other business ventures, only three families of Chandini Chowk are left in the field of parantha-making. It is their sixth generation that has taken on the endeavor to preserve the gali's name and offer the flavor of the past to the present.