trying to encapsulate the magic, that is Indian food in a thousand word article will leave me basking in my own futility. but taking you with me to one of the most loved restaurants in the country seems like a more attainable goal.
Paranthe wali gali, Old Delhi-
I make my way through the crowd, pushing, shoving, elbowing people out of my way. My actions based solely on a craving for freshly made golden, crispy paranthas with cold meethi lassi and some kulfi. Finding the right shop in a place as busy as Chandni Chowk is quite the achievement. I swear I almost tear up when I hear that oh-so-sweet sound of sizzling oil. I'm greeted with a long queue as soon as I enter the shop. My turn to order comes after exactly seven minutes of impatience. The staff at this restaurant is the sweetest, they offer you the brightest of smiles. And suddenly, all the pushing, shoving, elbowing, seems worth it. I'm tempted to order half of whats on the menu, but I settle with a portion of the aloo parantha, and one of the paneer parantha. I sit down on a bench and am greeted with a loud creek, and trust me, if I was anywhere else, people would have surely noticed the noise. But there in the middle of old Delhi, no one cared, they were all too busy devouring their beloved parathas. And it wasn't like I blamed them...
Even the people who are 'too wealthy for their own good' come to the most crowded street in the capital, to eat their favourite street food in the harsh Delhi heat. Its like we are bonded by a common love for unbelievable spicy, fried and unhealthy (sometimes prepared in not the most hygienic of conditions) food. As I'm reeling from this discovery. a shabbily dressed 12 year old boy places in front of me, a plate that holds two beautiful, golden, cooked to perfection, paranthas. The paranthas are accompanied by a gajar-achaar. this adds the perfect dash of colour and spice to the meal.
Each bite brings with it a new, distinct flavour. The aloo parantha is basically my childhood wrapped up in flour and drizzled with ghee. The paneer paranthaa is the perfect blend of all the spices and flavours. I wash these bad boys down with a tall glass of cold lassi. And as if I hadn't had enough, I order a portion of malai kulfi, this is India's answer to the vanilla ice cream (except its much, much better). My plate is clean in record time.
with a runny nose because of the spice, a sweaty forehead because of the heat and a full stomach, I make my way toward the cashier. I pay Rs.220 (approx $3) for one of the best meals I've had. Again, the staff rewards me with their brightes smiles. you see, trips like these shouldn't be made very often. for the sole purpose of keeping them from losing that special status in your heart. Trips like these should be made, when you're ready to experience the beauty and culture of a city through its food. They should be made when you want to see a bunch of unbelievably diverse people come together over a stack of oily paranthas. Trips like these should be made when you don't just want to fill your stomach, but crave to fill your heart.
The Paranthe Wali Gali is just one of the bazillion restaurants in India that carry forward our inherent tradition of great food.
Even after reading a 600 word article, you won't be even a fraction close to understanding the experience of eating at a 100 year old restaurant. So I guess its best to visit India for a bazillion such experiences