Enjoy the flavours of Old Delhi at the Parathewali Gali festival

The ongoing Parathewali Gali food festival at Le Meridien celebrates the paratha makers of Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk. The festival recreates the flavours and aromas of the famous the Parathewali Gali of Old Delhi and offers a variety of ghee parathas, stuffed with moong dhal, karela, raw banana, carrot, cabbage, and more besides the regular aloo, paneer, mooli and cauliflower. “We have kept it real with authentic flavours. There is no mix and match. We plan to serve 35 varieties of parathas in 10 days during the festival,” says Bantwal Bhat, associate executive chef.

For the non-vegetarians, there is the signature mughlai paratha stuffed with lamb kheema and coated with a layer of egg omelette. And, chicken, and lamb parathas.

Chef Israil Khan, who is from Kolkata, is a specialist in Indian kebabs and curries and the Bengali, Hyderabadi and Lucknawi Awadhi dum biriyani cuisines. He brings in his expertise of working with top chefs such as Imtiaz Qureshi (of ITC) to the festival.

“The first thing that hits you when you enter the Gali is the aromatic smell of makhan and ghee. The paratha makers operate out of small stalls and the diners can see the preparation, and soak in the aromas,” he says. True to the spirit of the Gali, the paratha making counter is kept open to the diners at the festival.

Taste of Kolkata

As accompaniments, you have a variety of lip-smacking pickles, veg and non-vegetarian gravies, and raitas. Chef Khan explains the preparation of tomato khajur Chutney, a Kolkata speciality. “Red tomatoes are sautéed with cinnamon and bay leaves. To this, we add mirchi powder and that of fennel seeds, and roasted jeera. Then, it is mixed with soaked dates, sugar, crushed black pepper, ginger juliennes and a squeeze of lime, and allowed to cool.”

Papaya relish pickle, made from finely sliced raw papaya is another delight. The papaya slices are soaked in white vinegar for an hour, and sautéed with fennel seeds and red chillies (without seeds). And, sugar is added.

The mixed Rajasthan mango pickle is prepared with mustard paste, and for those who like it hot and spicy there is the colourful red chilli-garlic pickle. Green chilli pickle — where green chillies (after soaking in vinegar) are stuffed with roasted channa powder, and marinated in chilli and jeera powder, and topped off with lime juice, brings in the local flavour.

“People in the South prefer tawa parathas. We bring variety with the stuffing. In some cases like the mooli paratha, we make it with extra chatpata, on demand. Chopped garlic, onion, ginger go into every vegetable stuffing mix. We offer parathas with their favourite stuffing too other than what is available at the fest. The idea is to give a slice of Delhi to the foodies here,” Bhat says.

Potato delights

We begin our dinner with baby potatoes. Tempered with asafoetida, those little delights make for a perfect starter with fresh mint chutney. The potatoes are non-greasy, and are light on the stomach. For the non-vegetarian platter, there is the aromatic hariyali kebab.

I bite into gajar ka paratha with a generous dose of the tangy-sweet khajur pickle, and enjoy the mixed aromas, and tastes. The super soft cabbage ka parantha tastes great with the sweet papaya relish, and also the green chillies. The mughlai paratha arrives, soaked in ghee and is a big hit among non-vegetarians. From the raita platter, the pudina raita packs a lot of freshness and turns out to be a favourite.

On a sweet note

As I round off the parantha meal with the ever-so-delicious qubani ka meetha and gajar ka halwa, Sivaram Hariharan, the entertainer of the evening, serenades us with Kishore Kumar’s kahin door jab din dhal jaaye

Parathewali Gali is on at Peacock Restaurant at Le Meridien, Avanashi Road. Available for buffet at dinner (weekdays) and lunch and dinner (weekends). Priced at Rs.599 plus taxes. For details, call: 0422-2364343.