Your Weekend Starts Here: Egg Paranthe in Katra Bariyan, Old Delhi

IMG_5185   Old Delhi in July is not everyone’s idea of fun. In fact, most people would probably say that Old Delhi in the middle of a north Indian summer is the last place they’d want to be.  When the temperatures are pushing 50ºC and monsoon humidity is looming,there is a huge temptation to simply find the coolest spot possible and not move if you can avoid it.  But sometimes I feel the need to shake my fist at the iphone weather app and head into Old Delhi. Not least because I know there will be something great to eat and that always improves the mood – whatever the weather. A couple of weeks ago, I did just that and stumbled on a wonderful egg parantha stall on the corner of Naya Bans and Katra Bariyan.  I must have walked past it a thousand times because Khan Omlet Corner is no newcomer.  The Khans’ stall is hugely popular little eatery at breakfast time when the Naya Bans morning market is full swing. safe_image.php The breads are crisp, the spiced egg filling has just the right amount of green chilli and coriander to kickstart the day and the mango pickle on the side sets the whole thing alight.  There’s even a little shady ledge to sit on to get out of the sun and watch the market commotion. IMG_5141 IMG_5142 IMG_5145 I returned exhausted and sweaty but well fed, triumphant at having conquered the weather and ready to take on the world again. Get your weekend off to a great start with the Khans’ wonderful egg paranthe.  You won’t regret it. Having said all that I’m off to cooler climes for a couple of weeks to see family in London and Edinburgh.  We’ll also have some time in Corfu so brace yourselves for Instagrams of blue seas and cold beer. By the time I get back at the beginning of August, the monsoon will be in full swing and I’ll be itching to get back into Old Delhi for all the food that tastes so good in the rainy weather – jalebis, pakore, samose and ghewar – and a visit to Ram Swarup which for some reason I always associated with puddles. IMG_5150

A Plum Flaugnarde to Share and Plums on Toast for One

IMG_5313   For the past few weeks, it has been blistering hot here in New Delhi. Step outside and you feel as if your eyeballs are melting, retreat inside and the air conditioning is wilting and the water from the cold tap is hot enough to scald you. To make matters worse, someone has devised a smartphone app which tells you not just that you are suffering in 43-degree heat, but that it actually feels like 50 degrees. Although, on the plus side, there is lots of fun to be had frying eggs on the bonnet of your car. Anyone who can has bolted to the hills or Europe to cool down. We had a big birthday to celebrate in our family last week—one with “0” in it—so we decided to scoop up our nearest and dearest and spend a long weekend at the wonderful Sitla Estate in Mukteshwar, Uttarakhand. We sat under the apricot trees and watched the sun go down over the slopes. We drank to longevity, devoured mulberry crumble and slept like babies in the cool mountain air. Too soon, though, we were on our way home—and there’s nothing more dispiriting than a 10-hour, bum-numbing drive with the prospect of only searing heat and dodgy air conditioners at the end of it. But for me the journey home was made bearable by the hundreds of roadside stalls selling freshly picked soft fruit, and I drifted off into a reverie of recipes involving peaches, plums and apricots. We stopped at a long row of stalls to try the fruit, first choosing a particularly voluptuous display of peaches. The vendor cut off a slice and handed it over. I put it in my mouth, expecting an explosion of soft, sweet flesh, but the vendor had sprinkled the perfectly ripe fruit with a liberal amount of salt and with a single bite my reverie was over. I’ve often said that a certain amount of sharpness in fruit is best for baking but salty fruit? I don’t think it will catch on. Once I had recovered from the salt attack, I bought vast amounts of peaches, apricots and plums, and their beautiful aroma sustained me for most of the journey home. The peaches were the most ripe and delicate so they were eaten quickly raw and in a cobbler, but the apricots and plums have kept very well in the fridge so I have been able to savour them in a variety of dishes. I made compotes and fools with the apricots and the plums have nearly disappeared in various attempts to make a good dessert with them. I wanted to turn them into a dessert similar to clafoutis called flaugnarde from the Auvergne, Limousin and Périgord regions of France (strictly speaking, and the French are always quite strict about these things, this dessert can only be called a clafoutis if it is made with cherries, with all other fruits it’s called a flaugnarde). But the first couple of attempts weren’t sweet enough—baking the plums seemed to enhance their sharpness. So I have upped the sugar quantities and rounded out the sharpness with some ground almonds and orange flower water, just enough to showcase the beautiful plums. The result is a perfect, quick, summer dessert. Plums on toast, the recipe for which comes from a 1950s Elizabeth David book, French Country Cooking, is more of a snack than a dessert. But what a snack—simple and quick, and so much more than the sum of its parts. It makes the perfect solitary elevenses, I discovered, along with some beautiful mint tea made from hand-stitched tea bags I had also brought back from Sitla. For a moment, the roar of the ACs subsided and I was almost back in the hills.

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Plum, Almond and Orange Flower Flaugnarde

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

400g plums, halved, stones removed and each half cut into three 4 eggs 125g sugar 450ml milk 50g flour 25g ground almonds 2 tsp orange flower water A handful of flaked almonds Method Butter a 10-inch baking dish. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Put the eggs, sugar, milk, flour, ground almonds and orange flower water in a bowl and whisk until completely smooth. Put half of the plum slices at the bottom of the baking dish and pour over the batter. Bake for 20 minutes until the flaugnarde is puffed up and golden. Take the flaugnarde out of the oven and arrange the remaining plum slices over the top, sprinkle on the flaked almonds. Bake for 5-10 minutes—the plums on top should be soft and the flaked almonds lightly toasted. I prefer this warm or at room temperature but it’s also good cold from the fridge.

Plums on Toast

Serves 1 (I can’t urge you strongly enough to try this. You could serve it as a rustic dessert but I prefer it as a solitary treat.)

Ingredients

2 slices of good-quality fresh white bread, crusts on—for a more indulgent version, use fresh brioche Soft butter (unsalted tastes best here),50-75g 4 plums, halved and stones removed Brown sugar, 50-75g Method Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Butter an ovenproof baking dish large enough to hold the slices of bread. Butter the slices of bread thickly on one side. Arrange four halves of plum on each slice, cut side up. Put a little butter and sugar into each half plum and put the slices into the baking dish. Cover the slices with butter paper and put the dish into the oven near the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, by which time the bread will be golden and crisp and flavoured with delicious buttery, sugary, plummy juices.

How I Nearly Became a Health Freak. Then I Made These Muffins That Taste Like Doughnuts

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This is what I was going to write this week: “I along with all the other 4,678,906 people who have viewed Robert Lustig’s YouTube talk, ‘Sugar: The Bitter Truth’, have seen the light. I now fully accept that sugar is responsible for the world’s rampant obesity, heart disease and diabetes. I believe the experts when they say sugar is more addictive than cocaine and that the processed food industry with its fizzy drinks, fast food and hidden sugar with everything is our merciless pusher. Sugar is killing us and it’s time for everyone, including me, to change our ways.”
For a whole week we ate nothing but healthy meals made from our organic vegetable delivery box, and by the weekend I was feeling pretty smug and recommending wholemeal poha for a weekend treat. It was time, I decided, to take a long, hard look at my baking, replace maida (refined flour) with wholemeal atta (flour), sugar with agave nectar and this week’s recipe was going to be a red velvet cake made from spelt flour and beetroot. I even felt quietly chuffed when my husband said I was turning into a health food fascist.
Then this happened. I made some of these doughnut muffins for Sunday breakfast and with one bite my resolve and new-found principles simply evaporated. They were so good, after I had eaten the first I would have sold my granny for another. I didn’t stop until I had eaten four—by late morning I was in a sugar coma.
I decided right then that any life that didn’t contain the occasional taste of something as outrageously sweet and delicious as muffins that taste like doughnuts (and really, really good doughnuts at that) wasn’t the life for me.
One downside is that they are almost too simple to make—certainly much easier than making doughnuts: They take about 30 minutes from weighing out the ingredients to wiping the buttery sugar off your chin. True, they’re not deep-fried like doughnuts so in a sense they are a little healthier, but they still have an awful lot of what keeps Robert Lustig awake at night. But if we all did exactly what we’re supposed to all the time, life would be terribly dull. And where’s the joy in a spelt and beetroot red velvet cake?
Muffins That Taste Like Doughnuts
Makes 12 normal-sized muffins, 24 mini muffins
Ingredients
For the muffins
325g plain flour (maida)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
250ml whole milk
12 tsp strawberry jam (optional)
For the doughnut topping
100g caster sugar
100g melted butter
Method
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Grease a 12-hole muffin or 24-hole mini muffin tin—silicone trays are ideal here.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar for a few minutes until soft and fluffy. Gradually beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Add one-third of the flour mixture with half of the milk and mix well, repeat until both are fully incorporated.
Divide the mixture between the muffin holes. If you want to make jam doughnuts, fill the holes one-third full of muffin mixture, add a teaspoon of jam, then cover with more muffin mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen and browned on top and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Leave the muffins to cool for a few moments, then turn them out on to a cooling rack.
Put the caster sugar in a small bowl and the melted butter in another. While they’re still warm, roll the tops of the muffins in the melted butter, then the sugar. These are best eaten warm but will keep for a few hours if kept in a sealed tin. Frankly, you’re more likely to feel you haven’t made enough—three of us polished off 12 at one sitting.

Some (non-election) snaps of Old Delhi this morning

 

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The world’s biggest ever democratic election got underway here  this week and, as always in India, the numbers are staggering. Over 800 million people are eligible to vote in 9 phases between now and 12th May (there will be 6 days of voting in UP and Bihar alone); 543 seats will be contested; there are 930,000 polling stations equipped  with 1.4 million electronic voting machines and 11 million personnel have been deployed to keep the whole show on the road.  The Indian media and Twitter, needless to say, are in a frenzy trying to predict the outcome. Will Congress and the Gandhi dynasty cling onto power or will the right wing BJP sweep in? In most Delhi neighbourhoods the last few weeks of campaigning ahead of voting on Thursday have been, to put it mildly, boisterous. We happen to live right next to one of the  Aam Admi (‘common man’) Party’s offices and getting any peace and quiet to work has been virtually impossible.

In comparison, Old Delhi at dawn today was blissfully quiet. I arrived with a  friend just as it was getting light and the city was starting to come to life. I think this might be my favourite time, in my favourite place, when the craziness of the day is still to come and people are taking a little time for themselves. We wandered mainly around the Jama Masjid area where many were waking up on the pavement, the seat of a rickshaw or at one of the many open air charpoy (rope bed) ‘guest houses.’ The chai and  omelette sandwich-wallahs were doing a roaring trade.  Some early birds were already out selling fruit, vegetables and buckets of meat.  

We probably saw more men in their baggy underwear than was strictly necessary but watching a young barber set up his stall in the shadow of the Jama Masjid was sight for sore eyes.  We climbed onto the roof of the Haji Hotel and marvelled at the (rare) blue sky behind the mosque. We had a quiet cuppa in Haveli Azam Khan, stocked up on rusks and biscuits at the Diamond Bakery and were back home in time for breakfast and a full  day of campaigning.

 Anyway here are a few non-election snaps…

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Chocolate Coconut Cakes for Mother’s Day

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So it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow—well, it is in Britain and much of Europe. To be more accurate, though, tomorrow is Mothering Sunday—a Christian celebration that is always on the fourth Sunday of Lent; the date changes every year according to when Easter falls. Churches hold special services on the theme of maternal love and the reading for the day is often from Galatians: “Jerusalem which is above is free; which is the Mother of us all.” The name dates back to times when people, often domestic servants, were given a day off to return to their “Mother”, or home church. As the workers walked along the country lanes from the big house to their village, they would pick flowers for their mothers—hence the later custom of giving presents.
I confess that I always assumed American Mother’s Day, which is celebrated in May, was devised purely as a way of boosting the profits of gift galleries Hallmark and Archies. How wrong I was. It actually appeared in the early 1900s when a woman named Anna Jarvis set up the day in memory of her own mother, Ann Jarvis, the founder of the “Mother’s Friendship Day” which aimed to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War.
Anna Jarvis, though, deplored what Mother’s Day became even during her lifetime and in 1948 was arrested for disturbing the peace while protesting its commercialization. “A printed card means nothing,” she once said, “except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” Before she died she said she wished she “had never started the day because it became so out of control”. She must be turning in her grave at the 21st century Mother’s Day. In the US alone, around $2.6 billion (around Rs.15,860 crore) is usually spent on flowers, $1.5 billion on gifts, $68 million on greeting cards.
Mother’s Day was also once known as Refreshment Sunday because Christians were allowed a break from the 40-day Lenten fast and baking has always been part of that tradition. Young servant girls often made a simnel cake to take home to their mothers and some English bakeries still sell mothering buns—a sweet yeasted cake covered in icing and coloured sprinkles. Whenever you celebrate Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday, you can’t go wrong with the gift of a home-made cake, surely one of the greatest expressions of love and appreciation.
My recipes today honour the two best mothers who ever lived, my husband’s and mine. My mother and mother-in-law never met. Oddly, the two recipes I often associate with them involve more or less the same ingredients but produce very different cakes. My mother Margaret’s is a simple traybake which we loved as children, an intense hit of chocolate and coconut. Brenda’s is a much-loved family cake that she always made for birthdays, and my husband thinks it was probably the first cake she ever learnt to make. I hadn’t made either for years and I have tweaked them slightly to take out some of the worst of the 1970s (margarine!).
For the cake I used fresh coconut instead of dried, but I think Brenda would have approved. The cakes brought back many fond memories for us all. As my son said, “that cake is fantastic. Just one mouthful is instant nostalgia.” I think Margaret, Brenda and Anna would all have been happy with that.
Margaret’s Chocolate Coconut Squares
Makes 12 squares
Ingredients
100g plain chocolate
50g soft butter
100g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
113g desiccated coconut
Method
Line a tin—about 17cm square—with foil. Bring a pan quarter-full of water to a gentle simmer. Break the chocolate into a glass bowl and sit this over the pan (but not touching the water) until it melts. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the foil-lined tin and place in the fridge to set.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Beat together the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy, then beat in the egg. Stir in the coconut and spread this mixture over the set chocolate. Bake for about 15 minutes until the surface is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before slicing into squares.
Brenda’s Chocolate Coconut Cake
Serves 8
Ingredients
175g caster sugar
175g soft unsalted butter (Brenda, and most bakers of the day, of course, used margarine)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
175g plain flour, sieved with
1 tsp baking powder
100g fresh, grated coconut (Brenda used desiccated but the fresh does make the cake more moist)
2 tbsp coconut milk (my addition, again in the interests of moistness)
150-200g milk chocolate (depending on how chocolatey you want the cake)
2 tbsp of coconut, lightly toasted
Method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease a ring tin (Brenda used a loaf tin, but the ring version gives you a bit more chocolate per mouthful).
In a large bowl beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Gently fold in the flour, add the coconut milk and fresh coconut and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the tin and even out the surface a little. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool slightly, then turn out on to a rack to cool completely.
Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of water as above, then spread evenly over the surface of the cake. Sprinkle with a little toasted coconut.

Chikki Market and Gupta Chaat Wallah, Old Delhi

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As we cling onto the last few cool days here, it’s a perfect time to take a leisurely wander around Old Delhi and enjoy some some of the winter specialities that are still available.

One of the never-ending delights of walking in Old Delhi is coming across the tiny markets within markets, the little lanes devoted to one commodity. This winter I discovered a market tucked away in Kothi Shri Mandir near the Khari Baoli spice market and devoted almost entirely to Chikki – a type of nut brittle made from jaggery in the winter months.

Kothi Shri Mandir is so narrow there is hardly any daylight and it almost feels like walking through a secret underground passageway where your path is lit on either side by piles of magical sugar.

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There’s chikki everywhere you look made from sesame (also called gajak), peanuts, cashews even dried rose petals which come in all shapes and sizes – bars, rolls, discs, slabs, golf balls, tiny coin-sized pieces and hearts.

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This is my favourite shop, Lal Chand Rewri Wale – beautiful fresh chikki and I love the way the owner is practically wearing his merchandise.

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There are also some namkeen shops in the street like Pappu Caterers who sell everything you could possibly wish for to put a bit of crunch into your chaat – the spinach matri was particularly good.

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You can  see the chikki being made in some of the shops – these guys are pounding slabs of sesame and jaggery

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And this is the peanut brittle being shapedIMG_4570
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As you come back out of Kothi Shri Mandir, take a minute to appreciate Gali Batashan itself – a whole street devoted to all things sugary, pickled and candied – like these carrots, ginger and amla.
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The gali is also home to some excellent snacks. The Bombay Sandwich wallah often makes a stop here and there is a chana puri stall doing a roaring trade on the corner of Kothi Shri Mandir.  But my new favourite chaat is made by the Guptas who told me they had been in the gali for 45 years – verified by a happy customer who said he’d been visiting their stall for over 40. They run a hugely popular, very spic and span cart from which father and son dish up all kinds of fresh and flavoursome chaat.

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Finally, on the corner of Gali Batashan and Khari Baoli there is a  seasonal vegetable stall – look at all these gorgeous black carrots, fresh green chick peas, star fruit, sweetcorn, lotus roots and fresh turmeric…

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Gali Batashan runs between Khari Baoli and Naya Bans.  If you’re coming from Khari Baoli, Kothi Shri Mandir, where you’ll find all the chikki wallahs, is the last turning on the left before reaching Naya Bans. Gupta Chaat wallah is on the left of Gali Batashan before you turn into Kothi Shri Mandir.  Here’s a map of the exact locations.  Go soon, though, the hot weather is on its way!

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=z5yQqd-1sTFU.kwW3uh74zD_M

Cooking the Book: Recipes from Korma Kheer and Kismet – 1. Sita Ram Diwan Chand’s Chana Bhatura

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While I wait  for my editor to put her red pen through the manuscript for Korma, Kheer and Kismet,  I’ve finally found time to  test the book’s recipes. Even though it isn’t a cook book – more of an Old Delhi street food memoir –  each chapter contains one or two recipes.  Some of them were given to me by street food vendors, others are my own versions based on watching the cooks at work.

First to be tested was one of north India’s favourite comfort foods: Chana Bhatura, specifically the version made by  Sita Ram Diwan Chand.  They have been making their magnificent dish in Paharganj since their ancestors arrived in the area after Partition and I once was lucky enough to spend the morning with the shop’s owner Pran Kohli.  He patiently showed how they make all the various elements, the chickpeas, bhatura, pickled carrot and tamarind chutney.  I blogged about it in 2009 and it has been the most popular post on Eat and Dust ever since but somehow I never got round to making it myself. (although I do frequently make my friend Anita Dhanda’s extremely easy and delicious recipe for Chana Bhatura).

I  was right to feel daunted by their incredibly detailed recipes and can finally testify that Sita Ram’s recipe is not for the fainthearted cook – it took me about a day and a half to complete – but it turned out to be well worth the effort.  As well as being very time-consuming, the recipe is also  very nuanced  – from the careful spicing of the chick peas and potatoes to the subtle accompaniments like the pickled carrots, paneer-stuffed bhatura, and tamarind sauce, every element of the dish has a vital role to play in producing an astounding range of flavours and textures. We’ve been happily gorging on it for days.

So here it is, a (rather lengthy)  sneak peek of one of the recipes that will appear in Korma, Kheer and Kismet. It’s been thoroughly tested and somewhat amended from my original scribbled notes from Pran Kohli of Sita Ram Diwan Chand.  Of course it’s not as good as his – after all they’ve been practising since 1947 – but it’s still an outstanding dish to make at home.

SITA RAM DIWAN CHAND’S CHANA BHATURA

Serves 6-8

Chana

500g chickpeas

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 cassia leaf

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

150g chopped onion

100g yoghurt

100g peeled and chopped tomatoes

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 heaped tablespoon anardana (pomegranate seed) powder

1 tablespoon garam masala

½ – 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (or to taste)

Spiced Potatoes

2 medium potatoes, boiled until cooked with skin on

½ onion, finely chopped

1 tomato, peeled and chopped

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon red chilli powder

½ teaspoon anardana powder

1 teaspoon garam masala

  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water.  In the morning, drain then put the chickpeas in a large pan with the ginger, cassia leaf, bicarbonate of soda and about 2 ½ litres of cold water.  Boil the chickpeas until they are tender but not mushy – about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, melt a tablespoon of oil or ghee and brown the onion.  Add the yogurt, chopped tomatoes and turmeric.  Stir well and cook on a low heat until the mixture is a deep reddish brown then remove from the heat.
  3. When the chickpeas are ready (retain the cooking liquid which will be much reduced) add the onion/tomato mixture and stir well.  Add salt, pepper, anardana, garam masala and red chilli powder and stir well.  Continue cooking until the gravy has thickened then take off the heat.
  4. To make the spiced potatoes, peel the boiled potatoes and chop into 2cm cubes.  Heat a tablespoon oil in a pan, add the chopped onion and tomato cook until browned.  Add the turmeric, salt, black pepper, red chilli powder, anardana powder and garam masala.  Cook for a few minutes until the spices are roasted.  Add the potato cubes then stir well to coat them in the spiced mixture. Stir the potato cubes into the chickpea mixture.

Bhatura

Makes 12

150g plain flour (maida)

150g semolina (sooji)

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons yogurt

150-200 mls water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Bhatura Stuffing

150g paneer, finely chopped

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon garam masala

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

5g chopped fresh coriander

  1. Mix together the flour, semolina, salt, yogurt and 150 mls of water.  Knead well until you have a soft, springy dough.  As the flour and semolina absorb the water, you may need to add more water.  After about 5 minutes of kneading you should have a smooth ball of dough. Put the dough in a clean bowl, cover and leave for 4-5 hours.
  2. To make the bhatura stuffing, combine all the ingredients and mix well.
  3. Work a tablespoon of oil into the rested bhatura dough then divide it into 12 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball between your palms.  With your thumb press a large dent in each ball, put a dessertspoonful of the stuffing into the dent then close the dough back up over to cover the stuffing.  The stuffing should be completely enclosed.
  4. Roll each stuffed ball out as thinly as possible.
  5. Heat about 6 cm oil in a kadhai.  When a small piece of dough dropped into the oil rises quickly to the surface, the oil is the right temperature to fry the bhature.  Gently slide in one bhatura, let it cook for a couple of seconds then press it down with a slotted spoon – this helps it to puff up.  Flip the bhatura over and press down again.  When the bhatura is golden brown and puffed up, removed to drain on some kitchen roll.

Pickled Carrot

The pickled carrot needs to be started a few days before you want to serve the chana bhatura.

200g red, ‘desi’ carrots

5g black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon turmeric

juice of 2 limes

250ml water

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon red chilli powder

  1. Peel and cut the carrot into small batons about ½ cm thick and 6cm long and place them in a clean jam jar.
  2. Mix together the mustard seed, salt, turmeric, lime juice and water.  Pour over the carrot sticks, close the jar and leave the carrots to steep for at least 2 days.
  3. Drain off the pickling liquid, rinse the carrots then mix with ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon red chilli and mix well.  The carrots are now ready to serve.

Tamarind Sauce

1/2 cup tamarind water (imli)

6 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

1/2  teaspoon red chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

Mix together all the ingredients in a small pan, bring to the boil then let it bubble for a few minutes until slightly thickened.

Serve with the chickpeas along with slices of raw onion, pickled carrot, and tamarind chutney.

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The Truest Sign of Winter in Delhi? The Daulat ki Chaat Wallahs are back in town!

 

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Winter has arrived here in Delhi.  I know this not just because we’re all starting to cough and splutter with the dreaded ‘Change of Season’ ailments.  Or because my feet are starting to get cold in bed at night and I can’t quite remember where I stashed our quilts last spring.  

No, I know the cooler days are here again because a few days ago I got a call from Babu Ram Kumar to let me know he and his brothers are back in town.  The Kumars are from Uttar Pradesh but every winter they’re based in Old Delhi where they continue a family tradition of making Daulat ki Chaat, that ethereally magical dessert that’s like a cross between a soufflé and a cloud.

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The lore that surrounds daulat ki chaat is every bit as amazing as the taste.  Food writer Madhur Jaffrey remembers it from her childhood in Delhi when a mysterious ‘Lady in White’  brought it in little pots to her family every morning.  It is said that Daulat ki Chaat must be made, by hand,  by the light of a full moon then left to set in the morning dew. It can only be made in the winter and has to be served and eaten quickly before the sun reduces the vendors’ snowy platters to a milky puddle. I’d been intrigued by these tales for years but for my book on Old Delhi I was determined to get to the bottom of the stories.  I pestered every Daulat ki Chaat maker I could find to let me watch them at work but it was the Kumar brothers who  eventually buckled under the pressure.   And so, last winter I spent several  unforgettable hours in the middle of a freezing cold  night watching pails of milk  being transformed into the food of the Gods. Were angels involved? Or the morning dew?  I couldn’t possibly say – at least not until my book, Korma, Kheer and Kismet, comes out in April!

For now, though, don’t miss the brief season.  Once almost extinct, for the past few seasons the daulat ki chaat stalls have been multiplying and from now until about Holi you’ll find them at various spots in Old Delhi including Dariba Kalan, Kinari Bazaar and outside the Chawri Bazaar metro station.  

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My book has a name!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to help decide on a name for my book about Old Delhi.

The clear favourite both here and on Facebook/Twitter was ‘Korma, Kheer and Kismet: Five Seasons in Old Delhi’ and I’m delighted to say that’s exactly what the book will be called.

It should be out by the end of the year… In the meantime, here are some lovely Old Delhi sweets to celebrate

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Help Name My Book!

HELP!   

I thought the agony of doing the first draft of my book on Old Delhi was bad enough! Now I have to decide on a title.

The working title has been ‘Mutton Korma at Shokkys': Five Seasons in Old Delhi’ but a few months ago I took against it.  However, coming up with something that I love more has so far escaped  me.

What do you think?  I want the title to convey what my book is about – the street food of Old Delhi, the families who make it and their stories.

Here are some of the options, sort of in order of preference… As you can see they all have the same strap line – ‘Five Seasons in Old Delhi’

 

All input greatly appreciated!

 

1. Mutton Korma at Shokkys’:

       Five Seasons in Old Delhi

 2. The Kheer Wallah’s Kismet:

       Five Seasons in Old Delhi

3. Korma, Kheer and Kismet:

       Five Seasons in Old Delhi

 4. Kheer and Kismet:

       Five Seasons in Old Delhi

 5. Mutton Korma and the Kismet of Kheer: (husband thinks this one sounds like ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’!)

       Five Seasons in Old Delhi 

6. Mutton Korma and Kulfi Wallahs:

       Five Seasons in Old Delhi

7. Tandoori Days:

       Five Seasons in Old Delhi

8. Aloo Tikki Times:

       Five Seasons in Old Delhi

 

Thanks!