So finally Korma, Kheer and Kismet – the product of years of joy (in Old Delhi) and heartbreak (at my desk) – is here. Although I still can’t quite believe it and do a double take every time I see it in a shop – my little book out there trying to make its way in the world.
The response to the book so far has been incredibly cheering, particularly in Old Delhi itself. As soon as I got back from my holiday in Scotland I went straight there to give copies to the vendors who feature in it.
First stop was Bade Mian’s shop in Lal Kuan.
The Siddique family’s kheer shop is a stone’s throw from the Chawri Bazaar metro and I always start any Old Delhi jaunt there – sitting at one of the tables at the back with a cup of chai and a tiny square metal plate of kheer. Jamaluddin is a wonderful character who is always ready with a colourful story – many of which I can’t understand because he seems to speak in Urdu rhyming couplets.
One of Delhi’s signature winter street foods is Shakarkandi. We all breathe a sigh of relief in the autumn when the spicy sweet potato vendors appear: we know the cooler weather is truly on its way.
As with much Indian street food, a plate of Shakarkandi is a tapas-sized portion and ideal for those between meals dilemmas. I particularly love ordering a plate late afternoon when dinner seems a long way off. I ordered up this plate outside Lodhi Gardens after a Republic Day walk last Tuesday. I love watching the ritual of assembling the Shakarkandi – the sweet potato is first plucked from the small pile warming on a pile of coal, slowly peeled, cubed and tumbled into a plate. The cubes are then liberally sprinkled with masala and lemon juice before being mixed with an expert flick of the wrist.