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12 comments | Sunday, April 27, 2008

A decade-and-a-half had passed since the Mutiny. Chandni Chowk had started settling under the new governance of the British. Year 1872 - Pt. Gaya Prasad, a yong man in early twenties, left his home in Tehsil Bah in Agra and came to Delhi in search of greener pasture. He put up a shop in a lane entering the Kinari Bazaar in Chandni Chowk and started making hot and sizzling paranthas. Soon the popularity of his paranthas grew so much that he had to call his brothers and cousins to help him in the business. Gradually, there came up almost a score shops - all belonging to the extended families of Gaya Prasad. Little they would have realised and imagined that the lane itself would become popular and famous after their paranthas as Paranthe Wali Gali (Lane of Paranthas) !

Thirty five varieties of Paranthas are served in the four shops that are now left in this lane. The fillings range from the usual, aaloo (mashed potatoes), gobhi (grated cauliflower), gaajar (carrots), mooli (radish) and paneer (cottage cheese); to the adventurous, methi (fenugreek), pudina (mint), karela (bittergourd), bhindi (okra); to the exotic, kela (banana), khurchan (thick layer of cream) and dry fruits. The usual fillings are rolled into a ball of dough and flattened with a rolling pin on a wooden or marble base. In the exotic parathas, the filling is spread on a flattened layer of dough and covered with another layer. The layers are then neatly tied and are ready to fry.Unlike the usual way of frying the parathas on a 'tawa' (flat griddle), the parathas in the Parathe Wali Gali are fried in a 'kadahi' (iron wok).

The parathas, fried in the 'desi ghee' (clarified butter) are then served in a 'thali' accompanied by 'kaddu (pumpkin) ki sabzi', 'aaloo mattar' (potatoes and green peas), 'aaloo mattar paneer' (potatoes, green peas and cottage cheese in gravy) 'kele ki saunth' (slices of bananas in thick jaggery and dried ginger chutney) and pudina (mint) chutney. The choice of vegetables and chutneys, served as accompaniments, have remained unchanged all these years.

The owners mention - with a gleaming pride - about the celebrities who have savoured the sumptuous parathas at their joints. Among these are Kabir Bedi, Salma Agha, Akshay Kumar, Gauri (wife of Shahruk Khan) and Amithab Bachhan.
The shop of Pt. Gaya Prasad Shiv Charan (claimed as the first shop among the lot) has proudly displayed a unique picture of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru along with Vijaylaksmi Pandit (Nehru's sister) Indira Gandhi and Babu Jagjivan Ram dining at Parathe Wali Gali eating the paratnthas served in 'pattal' (plates made of leaves) and 'kullhad' (bowls made of clay) Paranthe Wali Gali has seen more than a century and a quarter go by. And all through, it has been a major destination for the locals as well as the tourists who throng the place to satiate their gastronomical pleasures. All but four shops are now left in the lane. Many, from the original count of nearly a score, have diversified into other business. But those who have chosen to remain in the traditional business speak high of Mr. Sreedharan, the doyen of Delhi Metro. Anjali, the sixth generation female owner of the shop Pt. Baburam Devidayal, feels indebted to Delhi Metro for bringing in more and more customers from the far flung areas of Delhi. The Chandni Chowk station of the Delhi Metro opens right in front of the Paranthe Wali Gali.


Blogger Shipra said...

I am so upset that I went to Chandni Chowk several times during my trip this past winter, but not once was I taken to Paranthe Wali Gali. I had heard of it, but no one had ever considered taking me there. Next time I am in Delhi, would you please take me to these kinds of places?

May 1, 2008 12:19 PM

Blogger Sau raaste par teri raah nahin said...

This place reminded me of the golden days of my life and not to mention sizzzzzling hot paranthas.....! It seems you put a lot of efforts in preparing this article. There were so many things which even we dont know about "Paranthe Wali Gali".
Thanks a lot...!!!!!

May 1, 2008 2:35 PM

Blogger LastMile said...

I didn't know that the Metro opens right onto my favorite part of Delhi, otherwise its a pain to get there. The photos are scrumptious! I can literally smell the food! And I'm on way - definitely sometime this week. And once I'm there, well, there's Karim's too, isn't there? And glorious perfume shops, crafts shops, the camera market... maybe I should just take a week and spend some time here. Thank you, Raja.

And by the way, what an inspiration to see the nation's leaders digging in. What's inspiring is the sense of security that once prevailed over Delhi, a time when, whether you were 'Somebody' or 'Nobody', you could come and go without that pestiferous Z Security cavalcade raining on everyone's parade!

May 2, 2008 2:33 PM

Blogger My Pakistan said...

Raja sahib, wah wah, great post, really mouthwatering and very nicely written. I enjoyed it to the hilt. Wish I could go to paranthe wali gali and savour all those sizzling paranthe, my favourites here are Aloo walay and mooli walay parathe.

I visited India only once and that was between May 10-15 in Mumbai, during this time Pokhran nuclear tests were conducted by India. It was a scary news for me because I thought that now all tranport links with Pakistan would be cut immediately, but nothing happened and I returned to Islamabad to witness its tit-for-tat bangs. Sheer madness, there is no bigger bomb in the world than the poverty bomb.

Anyways coming back to paranthe, yummy and I will recomment to all my friends visiting Delhi to must go there. Best regards and keep visiting my website www.masroor.com.pk

May 4, 2008 10:57 AM

Blogger Gaurav said...

Very infodelicious indeed.

Keep up the good work!

May 8, 2008 12:05 AM

Anonymous KULJIT said...

.......that's a good research. making of the paranthas, too has been described in easy words for every one to understand. Put a map also on the site to give an idea where exactly the place is.... KULJIT

May 14, 2008 3:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I belong to Kerala. But being fond of North Indian food I visited Parathe Wali Gali while I was in Delhi. Even the owners of the shop could not explain it to me in so so depth about the history of the Parathe Wali Gali as has been done by you. Kudos ! - Mariam Koshi

May 22, 2008 7:01 AM

Anonymous Hardesh Dhingra said...

What a search and research ! Marvellous !! A suggestion - put some maps of the places you mention, may be just line drawings, it becomes simpler for the reader to know where exactly the place is. It may also help people who visit Delhi to know where exactly the place is.

May 28, 2008 6:34 AM

Anonymous Rose said...

Great job.... u inspire me to visit the place ,thanx again

June 4, 2008 10:33 PM

Blogger Rahul said...

musIt's just yummh.........
The smell of Paranthas were also be taken out from this article.I doesn't visit "Paranthe Wali Gali"
but now I'll visit that place as soon as possible.

April 2, 2009 8:01 AM

Blogger sandy said...

Boss ! Yeh kya kiya ? Soye hue armaan jaga diye. As it is very difficult to leave those lanes of Delhi & now at this far off place you have revived the real Zayka of Delhi. Thanks for making us proud as a Delhite who simply love to love and eat. Sandeep

November 19, 2009 10:39 AM

Blogger Jutika said...

oh what delicious prathas

January 12, 2010 7:52 AM


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