A Delhi Street Food Feature For Feast Magazine

Here’s a link to a feature I wrote for the Australian food magazine ‘Feast’. Photographer  Alan Benson and I did this in May when it was boiling, boiling hot and even I was finding it hard to eat huge amounts of deep-fried food!  At Dilli Haat craft market we were literally the only people at the food court.

Alan’s  photos are gorgeous though – Old Delhi never looked better and happily, there are no shots of my red, sweaty face in there!

Feast Feature


Eat and Dust in Femina Magazine

A little feature in Femina magazine this week

Her wishes really are horses!
Specials: The foodventures of a Desi Videsi Sep 15, 2010 – 05:57 PM 

What are the odds of bumping into a British lady in the gullies of purani dilli, gleefully tucking in cholé kulchas, and daulat ki chaat, as if soon they’ll be out of fashion? Pretty high, if you go by the contents of Pamela Timms’ blog Eat and Dust.

Journalist and columnist, Pamela has been living in Delhi for five years now: tasting, eating, and chronicling Indian street food. In conversation with Rajani Mani, Pamela talks about her delicious obsession with India’s streets.

What inspires you to blog about food?
“I’ve been blogging now for just over a year.  I started Eat and Dust simply to chronicle all the wonderful food I eat in India.  I’ve always been obsessed with food but I also felt that Indian street food is often overlooked despite being some of the best food in the world.  I wanted to put that right and urge people to come away from food courts and get back out on the street.”

So what’s it like being out on the streets in Delhi?
“I think the Old Delhi-wallahs are quite amused at seeing an expat lady stopping at all the backstreet joints although some of them know me quite well now.”

What’s your favourite street food?
“One of the most memorable street food dishes I ever had was the Chole Kulcha at Old and Famous Kulcha in Amritsar.  I’m also a huge fan of the Korma at Ashok and Ashok in Sadar Bazaar and Bade Mian’s kheer in Lal Kuan.”

And your favourite cooking smell?
“I love the smell of anything being baked and I especially like the smell of raspberry jam being made – it reminds me of my mum’s kitchen. When we were kids we used to picks tons of raspberries during our holidays in Scotland and my mum used to turn it into jam for the inter.”

What are you craving for, at the moment?
“My ultimate comfort food is probably some kind of stew with dumplings and a huge pile of mash… or a perfectly-cooked steak with fries and béarnaise sauce and an extremely good red wine.  Having said that, a good Chole Bhatura is what I most often find myself craving these days.”

Where are you most likely to source your recipe from?
“I do occasionally use the internet for recipes but I’m a bit old school – I still much prefer cookbooks and return over and over to old favourites like Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson and Claudia Roden.  I’m also a huge admirer of Ottolenghi, the British-based Israeli chef.  I also have a huge collection of recipes I’ve cut out of magazines over the years.

Here’s a wonderful, summery recipe, a fresh cherry cake from one of my favourite old cookbooks, ‘La Cuisine Pour Tous’ by Ginette Mathiot.”


600g black cherries, washed, stalks and stones removed
125g butter
125g caster sugar
125g peeled and finely ground almonds
100 – 150g leftover brioche
100ml milk
4 eggs
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 180°C

1. Melt the butter.
2. To the melted butter add the sugar, salt and ground almonds.  Beat well to mix.
3. Put the brioche in the milk to break it up then mix it into the butter mixture.
4. Beat in the eggs one by one then mix in the cherries.
5. Butter a tin (it should be a Charlotte mould but I use a deep rectangular baking tin) then pour in the mixture.
6. Bake for 30-45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
7. Serve cold, sprinkled with Kirsch.

Jain Sa’ab – the Gordon Ramsay of Daryaganj

I’m definitely developing a very pronounced culinary split personality. The past couple of weeks have  seen wall-to-wall macaroons and cupcakes for our recent Uparwali Chai tea party events: cake-stands piled high, pastries nibbled, Assam sipped and pinkies crooked over fine china cups.

Happily, I have a seriously sweet tooth but I’m definitely back in the mood for some savoury street fare. Just as well, then, that my friend Rahul Verma, who  writes about street food  for The Hindu newspaper, has decided to  revisit all his favourite old haunts.  Rahul first started writing about Delhi’s street food over 20 years ago,  so there’s a lot to look forward to over the next few months. Hurrah!

I’d hardly finished reading Monday’s piece about Jain Sa’ab’s Bedmi shop when I was in the car and heading to  Daryaganj.  A substantial street breakfast was just what I needed to set the right tone for the week and the wide, leafy streets of Daryaganj, dotted with colonial relics and publishing houses make a nice change from the teeming gullies of the old city.

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An Old Delhi Street Food Walk

So last Saturday those crazy kids over at Dillinet finally persuaded me to take them on a street food walk and in the process made Golgappe, Shahi Tukda and Kebabs  look cute, glamorous and lots of fun.

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A Diamond Bakery and a Bucketful of Brains in Old Delhi

Diamond Bakery Loaves

Mostly I go to Old Delhi in the evening when the city’s hardworking day is done, the kebabs are smoking and the Biryani  pots are beckoning.  But recently a sudden craving for pukka Aloo Puri opened up a whole new daytime world of foodie avenues to explore.

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Jama Masjid, Fast-Breaking and a Strange Fruit

Iftar at Jama Masjid

This is the Jama Masjid in all its Ramadan glory, lit up and dominating the Old Delhi skyline, thronged with devotees waiting to break their fast.  A group of us, including Hemanshu of Eating out in Delhi and Sangeeta of Banaras ka Khana went to soak up the atmosphere on Sunday night . The walk from   Chawri Bazaar Metro was more hazardous than usual as we dodged rickshaws racing to spirit their famished passengers to the mosque or home in time for Iftar, the moment the sun goes down and the faithful can eat again.

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Home Made Chana Bhatura

close class bhature

There are some Indian dishes which I  assumed would be impossible to recreate at home unless you’ve spent half your life sitting behind a giant karhai somewhere in Old Delhi.  One of these is Chana Bhatura, that meltingly more-ish chick pea and deep fried bread combo that can make me weak with longing.

Then I met cookery teacher Anita Dhanda, who runs a class at the American School here in Delhi.  Over the course of 10 weeks she unlocks the mysteries of  parantha, palak paneer, halwa, kheer, keema, dal makhani and much more.

One of the many splendid things about Anita, apart from her winning pinny and kurta combos, is her ability to make it all look so simple. She was also generous with her time-tested family recipes including this, her mother’s recipe for Chana Bhatura.  I’ve made this a few times at home and it’s a winner and I’m always instantly transported back to  Sita Ram Diwan Chand – the only thing  missing is the flies.

So here is Anita’s  mum’s easy peasy, home kitchen-friendly, 100% pukka Chana Bhatura – guaranteed to make you feel as if you’re sitting cross-legged at a kharai:


Chana Pindi


1 and half cups chick peas (chana)

1 tbs chopped ginger

1tsp each coriander powder, roasted cumin powder, red chilli powder, garam masala, mango or ground pomegranate seed (anardana) powder, cumin seeds

2tbs ghee

salt, bay leaf,bicarbonate of soda.


Wash and soak the chick peas overnight.  Drain then add 5-6 cups fresh water.  Add the bicarbonate of soda,  bay and ginger and boil, covered, until very soft. When the chick peas are ready – this will vary according to the freshness of the peas – add coriander, chilli, garam masala, mango or anardana powder, and roast ground cumin powder. Bring back to the boil and stir well to blend all the spices.



In a small pan or ‘chaunk’*, melt the ghee until smoking. Add the cumin seeds and let them crackle for a few seconds. then pour over the chick peas.  Cook for 5-10 minutes.  If the mixture is too watery, mash some of the chick peas into the liquid to thicken. Check seasonings, add a few pieces of cooked potato if desired. This next bit  requires restraint but the Chana is even better if left for a few hours to let the flavours meld before devouring greedily with fresh  bhatura.

*My ‘Chaunk’, also known as a ‘Tarka’, is  a new favourite piece of kitchen equipment.  It’s like a small frying-pan on the end of a long handle  and is used for  ‘tempering’, just before a dish is served: oil or ghee is melted until smoking then spices like whole cumin, or mustard seeds are added and left to sizzle for  a few seconds.  It fills the kitchen with the most intensely inviting smells before adding that final flourish to a dish.  According to Anita, it’s a process which many modern cooks  don’t bother with but I’m a convert – it gives the food a freshness and pep it wouldn’t otherwise have.

The Bhatura is a little trickier and you may not get that magnificent balloon shape first time, but the ones in the picture were made by us first-timers in the cookery class and they tasted delicious.

Purists be warned – Anita’s recipe contains non-traditional mashed potato.  She says her mum always puts it in for extra crunch.

class bhatureBhatura


1 cup plain flour (maida)

1 cup semolina (sooji)

1 potato boiled and mashed

2 tbs yogurt

2 tsp oil

half tsp salt

extra oil for deep frying


Mix all the ingredients together and bind to a soft dough with water. Leave to ferment for 5-6 hours.  Break off pieces of dough and roll into balls.  Dip each ball into oil then roll out thinly.  Heat oil in a karhai until really hot – to test if the oil is hot enough, drop in a small amount of dough – it should instantly rise to the top. Carefully put in one of the rolled out discs. With a metal slotted spoon, press the bhatura down in the centre of the oil and it should instantly puff up.  Quickly remove the bhatura to drain on kitchen roll. The cooking process takes only a few seconds.  If your first bhatura is very oily, it means the oil wasn’t hot enough.

As well as slices of onions, Anita had also prepared a ‘Sonth’, a sweet and sour dip which complemented the other savoury dishes perfectly



1 tbsp dried mango powder (amchur)

3 tbsp sugar

half tsp roasted cumin powder

quarter tsp each of red chilli powder, salt, garam masala

quarter cup water


Mix all ingredients and cook on low flame till thick and syrupy

‘Sonth’ is also good with snacks like samosas and pakoras

Kuremal Kulfi – a Masterclass and Recipes

the best ice cream in delhi?

kuremal kulfi

The best ices in Delhi?  It’s a big claim, but these are kulfis with a pedigree.

The Kuremal family have been making kulfi in the old city since 1908 when Pandit Kuremal  left his ancestral village in Haryana at the age of 8 to seek fame and fortune in the big city. He learned the kulfi business with an Old Delhi Halwai (sweet -maker ) and by the time he was 14  had his own pushcart selling two flavours, plain rabri and mango.  Word spread and over the next 40 years Kuremal built the business to a multi-cart affair.

When Pandit’s  son Mahavir Prasad took over in 1975, he moved the business off the street and into its present shop, tucked in amongst the old havelis of Kucha Pati Ram, off Sitaram Bazaar.

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