Food

Triplicane offers culinary delights for Ramzan

From haleem to dumka roat, the winding roads of Triplicane hide iconic Ramzan tastes, as The Park’s Ramadan Walk proves

The time is 6.30 pm.

Against the fading evening light, the Big (Wallajah) Mosque stands tall in Triplicane and is brimming with people, all decked up. Soon, it will be time to break the fast. And so, we are guided to the right wing of the mosque where a line of women sit on cane mats, their bowls filled with generous amounts of nombu kanji. We too, are asked to sit and before we know it, we are being served: nombu kanji, vegetable fried rice, onion samosas, rose milk and so on. They don’t heed to our repeated requests to serve less -- “No, it’s okay, please have as much as you can” and move to the next line. Before long, as the azaan resounds in the air, everyone begins feasting.

Triplicane offers culinary delights for Ramzan

This is from where the fourth edition of The Park Ramadan walk begins, to discover the iconic places in Triplicane that serve iftar delicacies. “This mosque shows the best example of living in harmony. Many non-Muslims, especially Gujaratis and Sindhis, set up shop during Ramzan. In fact, they make the food and serve too,” says Chef Ashutosh Nerlekar, who curated the walk.

Our next food stop: Haleem Express. Situated right outside the mosque, the lime green outlet serves warm haleem ( meat lovers’ paradise: a heavenly concoction of gooey mutton and wheat) and mutton kebabs. The haleem, garnished with caramelised onions and tomato shavings, is light on the tongue, warm and easy to scoop up.

We walk past a bored vendor selling spirals of semiya: the chef quips: “Now, the semiya would be about ₹400 per kilogram, but closer to the Eid, it goes up to ₹900.”

Sandwiched between relentless traffic on one side and crowded shops on the other, we walk towards the iconic Firdous Cafe — and the masala-filled fragrance of the meat in the rotisserie hits us immediately. We are served half a shawarma and grilled chicken. While the chicken is cooked to perfection with the right amount of spices, the shawarma is mild on the palate.

Triplicane offers culinary delights for Ramzan

“This place easily uses 60 whole chickens just in the evenings,” says the chef of the restaurant, which has been serving people from the 1960s.

Next up: biryani. An old man in a skull cap scoops up generous amounts of biryani, from a big steaming cauldron to serve customers, who are queuing up by the minute. The biryani however, does not trump the other dishes — despite the tender chicken, the rice lackes flavour.

After a one-and-a-half kilometre walk, we reach Fakir Street which houses the famous Basha Halwawala: the board outside declares “no branches” as the empty ‘New Basha Halwawala’ looks on from the opposite side.

Triplicane offers culinary delights for Ramzan

Dumka roat is the first dessert in line. Easily the highlight of the walk, this sweet is the perfect combination of sooji, khoa, ghee and sugar. It has a gooey consistency and the strongly caramelised bits on top taste like toffee. The sweetness is not overpowering, making a second or third serving possible.

It’s time to end the evening with hot badam milk. An old man on a scooter selling attar directs us to a badam milk outlet, called Mani Lassi Shop. The simmering milk fills a steel cauldron up to the brim. A man scoops up the boiling drink in a ladle and pours it diagonally from atop — the action is done to separate the cream from the milk. As people watch, he serves glass after glass of steaming badam milk; with and without a dollop of cream on top, depending on customer preferences. The milk is a soothing respite to an evening of sampling most of Triplicane’s most colourful culinary secrets.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 5:37:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/not-just-haleem-the-park-ramadan-walk/article27415317.ece

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