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The sweet and salt of it

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Stop Just when Paranthewali Gali was losing lustre, Rahul Verma finds that there is some good news

Think of Chandni Chowk, and you immediately conjure up a picture of paranthas. If Karim’s is another word for the burra kabab, this part of the Walled City has for long years been synonymous with the parantha. And it doesn’t surprise me, for the very thought of a lane devoted to paranthas is so mouth-watering. And you can almost smell the smoky aroma of a parantha being fried. But like many things in Delhi, Gali Paranthewali has gone through a metamorphosis.

Once upon a time, this was a lane where you bought your silver. Then, the paranthewallehs took over. Shop after shop in this lane sold paranthas. You sat somewhere on a wooden bench, ate different kinds of paranthas – stuffed with cauliflower, potato, paneer and a lot else – and watched the world go by. But over the years, the lane lost its glory. Several shops downed their shutters, leaving just a few behind. Most shop owners thought there was not enough money in paranthas, and moved or sold their business to sariwallahs and others.

And I, among scores of others, stopped going to Paranthewali Gali. Then, just the other day, I was told that a new parantha shop had opened there. This was news – for I had only been hearing about shops closing down. The fact that somebody had actually decided to start business there was heart-warming. I went in search of him – and found Babu Ram Paranthe Wale (Shop no.1984-85, Mobile no. 9313773576).

How to reach

If you take the Metro and get down at Chandni Chowk, go past the king of dahi bhallas, Natraj, and just cross the road. This is Gali Paranthe Wali. Go down the winding road. At some point, next to that wonderful rabriwallah about who I have written, you’ll find Babu Ram on your left.

You are served with care there. A thali comes with different types of vegetables – a bit of pumpkin, potato curry and some paneer, along with a wonderfully tangy, banana chutney. Then the paranthas start piling up, depending on what you want – stuffed with potato, paneer, peas, papar, besan, dal, kaaju, cauliflower, radish and so on. The prices vary – the plain and dal ones are for Rs.12 a piece, the vegetable paranthas are for Rs.16 and the paneer parantha is for Rs.20.

At Rs.30, the most expensive ones are the cashew, raisin, meva, almond and khoya paranthas. The sweet paranthas are actually wonderful. You have some stuffed with khoya, banana and rabri. The khurchan parantha is filled with that delicious milk-based sweet that you only seem to get in Old Delhi. They even have a lemon parantha, a sugar parantha and a mint parantha. The paranthas are all deep fried, and are crunchy from the outside, and nice and soft inside. I see the opening of Babu Ram as a wonderful sign. It speaks of a revival of a street that seemed to have been fading out. Delhi’s old-timers, who saw Paranthewali Gali as a vibrant street, can now go back to the lane which once used to boast of its paranthas. I hope one day the lane will once again be devoted to the humble parantha.

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