One of the great highlights of the winter is heavenly milky dessert that makes a brief but unforgettable earthly experience in the gullies of Old Delhi almost as soon as the last Diwali firecracker has fizzled. From then until Holi, the daulat ki chaat vendors wander through the bazaars, their snowy platters dazzling in the pale sunshine, as if a dozen small, perfectly formed clouds have dropped from the sky.
Daulat ki chaat (meaning ‘snack of wealth) is probably Old Delhi’s most surprising street food. Anyone expecting the punchy, spicy flavours usually suggested by the word ‘chaat’ will be disappointed. It resembles uncooked meringue and the taste is shocking in its subtlety, more molecular gastronomy than raunchy street food, a light foam that disappears instantly on the tongue, leaving behind the merest hint of sweetness, cream, saffron, sugar and nuts; tantalizing, almost not there. I’ve often wondered if daulat ki chaat is a preview of what might be on the menu should we make it as far as the pearly gates.
About the Book:
Pamela Timms has described old Delhi both as a tourist and as a resident well versed with the streets. She mentions that she started as a food blogger, interviewed various restaurant owners/ vendors for their recipes, their history. She has even mentioned her childhood and her mother’s cooking.
She has mentioned that this book is a diary of her food journey of one year. She mentions about Ashok and Ashok’s shop in Sadar Bazaar famous for its mutton korma and the lengths she went into to collect the recipe; about the spice market in Khari Baoli; Sita Ram Diwan Chand, famous for its chola bhaturas, in Paharganj; and the Amritsari Kulcha. She has gone on to describe various localities of Old Delhi like Kinari Bazaar, Hauz Qazi Chowk and many more.
The author has painstakingly collated a beautiful memoir which I feel is a must in every foodies library/ collection of books. I have even underlined the various joints and places in Old Delhi which I think I would try to cover in the next year or so. Knowing the story behind the food joints would make it all the more interesting to go and have a meal there. She has described the places beautifully making the reader want to go and visit them or if they have been visited already, a revisit. I loved how she connected with various proprietors on an emotional level even visiting their homes and meeting their family. Even celebrating festivals with them.
I would have liked it more if the pictures would have been coloured, a caption describing the picture would have made it more interesting, and more so if she would have included the Old Delhi map given by her friend.
Book Source: Review copy from Rupa Books
Publisher: Aleph Book Company