Ever heard of a Gajar Parantha?
By Kashish Badar
It’s a rare site to see a woman managing a restaurant in Old Delhi, but I was lucky enough to witness it myself. Owning one of the most famous shops in Paranthe Wali Gali, Mrs. Sakun Sharma is a middle aged woman handling Babu Ram Devi Dayal Paranthe Wale.
Set amidst the hustling and bustling locality of Chandni Chowk, Paranthe Wali Gali, as the name suggests, is a hub for parantha (Indian flatbread) lovers. There are almost ten shops in the street which specialise in different types of paranthas. Out of these shops, almost half are owned by Mrs. Sharma’s extended family’s members. Not all of these shops serve paranthas though; one of them is a sweets shop having khurchan,lassi (churned curd) and other sweets on their menu.
The shop was established in 1889 according to the board outside, but Mrs. Sharma claims that it is much older than that. The shop belongs to her in-laws and she is the sixth generation handling this work. She feels proud to tell me that!
I had gone there with family, so we ordered a variety of paranthas ranging from the plain parantha to the mixed vegetable parantha. The shop has a large variety to offer. Banana parantha, lemon parantha, parat parantha, bhindi parantha, kaju parantha,karela parantha and so much more. You just have to name it and they have it. We ordered a paneer parantha and badaam parantha to start with. While two men prepared them for us, one boy served us thalis each. The thali had aloo subzi, sitaphal subzi, aloo matar, pickle and saunth in it. The saunth had slices of banana floating in it. We were served the paranthas a little later. Let me tell you a very interesting thing about these flatbreads. Unlike the usual paranthas which are pan fried on a tava, these paranthas are deep fried in a pan of hot ghee/ oil.
We were served the badaam parantha first which had a filling of chopped almonds, salt and red chilli flakes. It tasted fine with the sweet saunth. But the different elements in the parantha could have blended together better. After the badaam parantha, we had the parat parantha (layered parantha). It had thin layers of wheat inside which could be separated easily. This looked interesting to me. Though it did not have any stuffing, but it tasted well with the rabri that we had ordered. We also had a mixed vegetable parantha. It had chopped cauliflower, chillies, potato and a few other vegetables in the stuffing. Our paneer parantha and plain parantha were served soon. These paranthas tasted well with the aloo subzi (dry) and the pickle. There’s one more thing that always manages to add flavour to the north Indian cuisine and that is lassi. We north Indians just love this combination of paranthas and lassi.
Aloo parantha was last on our plate and I liked it second to the paneer parantha. The other paranthas had too much salt in them. Though the paranthas were golden brown and crisp but the stuffing in most of them was not up to my expectations. The subzis provided along the paranthas were fine but nothing exceptional, but I really liked the paneer parantha and parat parantha with the rabri. I would certainly recommend you to try it.
I would rate the badaam parantha 5/10, the paneer parantha 7/10, aloo parantha 7/10 and the mixed vegetable parantha would only get 4/10 due to the salt.
The paranthas cost between Rs. 30- Rs. 60. So it is not an expensive deal. You can try out the other stuffings and probably ask the man who prepares them to add salt according to your taste.
A meal for two can be had within Rs. 200 – Rs. 300 very easily. Mrs. Sakun Sharma also told me that all her paranthas are equally popular.
From my personal experience, I would say that Paranthe Wali Gali is slightly over rated. The variety they offer is the only attractive factor, but the taste and quality can certainly be made better. I think they can expand the variety by introducing non vegetarian paranthas. This will be a great addition on their menu.
With all the popularity and fame that Paranthe Wali Gali enjoys, it is worth a visit for all those who don’t hesitate in experimenting with their food.
And yes! Don’t dare to ask the recipe of your favourite parantha from Mrs.Sakun Sharma because she is quite secretive about it. She will look at you and say “Kuch cheezein bataane ke liye nahi hoti!”
Photo Credit- Piyush Nagpal