A few days ago, I went on a walk to the Old City. It was an evening before Id, so the place had, as always, come alive with the sounds and colours of people looking forward to the festival. The entire Jama Masjid area was bustling with life. People had lined up in front of the food stalls. Cooks with huge cauldrons were frying chicken and vegetable and fish pakoras, men with grills were skewering kababs, and you could spot bawarchis sitting with their deghs of biryani on the roadside. The wonderful aroma of food wafted gently in the air. It was a feast for all the senses.
I love the area so much during the Ramzan evenings that I went back there a couple of days later. But this time I thought I would go for something sweet since this Id was being celebrated with sewaiyan. I walked up to Matia Mahal, the main market of the area, and found Kohinoor ice creams near Garib Hotel. Kohinoor is not really a shop; it's a bit of space that the owners have made for themselves to sell their ware. I had gone there for the shahi tukra, which I had eaten during my walk. This time I wanted to eat some, and bring some home.
Shahi tukra is a deliciously rich sweet prepared with milk, cream, khoya, bread and sugar. There are two shahi tukra sellers in the area. I chose the one near Jama Masjid. The sweet-makers come with a huge paraat – which is a flat-bottomed vessel – filled with shahi tukra to their designated spot at around 2 p.m. You can see the milky white cream on top, dotted with small pieces of candied fruit. The bottom layer of the paraat contains fried bread dipped in sugar syrup. On top of it is the creamy layer, and bits of dry fruits. The entire concoction is delicious, and is sold for Rs.150 a kilogram. A wedge is neatly cut out, weighed and given to you.
On the two sides of the paraat are two big pots of ice-creams – one with plain milk ice-cream, and the other carrying a mango flavoured one. The ice-cream is for Rs.15 a scoop. I focused my attention on the shahi tukra, deciding that I'd try the ice-creams out on another visit.
Since the occasion was festive, I thought I'd take back home some other delicacies from the area. So I packed some chicken burra and aloo gosht from Karim's. I wanted mutton burras, but I was there a bit too early in the evening, and the mutton was yet to be put in the tandoor. But the juicy chicken burras weren't bad at all, as I discovered later in the evening.
After a satisfying meal, the shahi tukra was the icing on the cake – or the toast. How imaginative our forefathers were to make such a delicious sweet out of something as prosaic as bread. Of course, it's so heavy that I pushed my weighing machine under the bed after the meal. Sometimes you need to forget bad words such as calories. Delicious is so much better, after all.