Tuesday, June 20, 2006

shakahari

Summer didn't come knocking at our doors this year - but barged in like a rude guest. So, as the temperature soared, we were discussing cold desserts in a bid to douse the fire that raged around us.

That was when I heard about the famous kulfiwallah of Chawri Bazar who sold the most exotic kulfis. He had a kulfi peppered with faalsey, those small berries that make excellent sherbets, a malai kulfi, made with cream, and a rabri kulfi, with thickened milk.

I was dying to have some of his kulfis, so I set out one scorching day last week to try them out for myself. I reached Chawri Bazar and went to the spot where I was told I'd find him - only to find him missing. A few questions later, I learnt that the venerable gentleman was no more.

I felt bad - not just because he had gone up to the great hunting ground of all kulfiwallahs, but because I'd never had the chance of eating his famed stuff.

But since life goes on, I decided to look up an old friend of mine in the region - a small restaurant called Shakahari.

When I first came to Delhi from Western Uttar Pradesh many years ago, one of the things that I missed the most in this big bad city was urad ki dal. This was our staple diet in the village where we lived - nearly every meal consisted of rotis and urad dal seasoned with a generous helping of asli ghee. In Delhi, I was amazed to find that few restaurants served this dal that I had grown up on.

That was when somebody told me about Shakahari. For me, there was just one great reason to go there - it served urad ki dal, and made the way I liked it.

So, when there were no kulfis to be had, I walked up to Shakahari, which is right next to the Chawri Metro station.

I went up a narrow staircase and sat down in the place where I've had a great many nostalgic meals. Of course, I asked for a plate of urad dal (Rs.42), which came with very small besan ki rotis, cooked in the tandoor and dunked in ghee (Rs.4 each).

Rare dishes


The good thing about Shakahari is that it serves all those things that we don't see in restaurants anymore. Where does one get sukha matar - a spicy dish of peas? And where does one get aloo-palak, spinach cooked with potatoes?

Shakahari has all this, and more. I always have their roasted eggplant (baigan ka bharta) or spicy bhindi (fried okra) - for Rs.40 - and a boondi raita for Rs.27.

The food is excellent, cooked the way bhabhis and chachis did in the old days. I had my lunch and then sauntered out for a sweet dish.

There was no kulfi, but I appeased my soul with a plate of cold rabri. Be happy with what you have, I told myself.

24 comments:

amit ranjan said...

i quite like your wanderings in old delhi...i myself am a purani dilli freak, and writing something about the places there...are you a journalist. pl do reply. my e mail is amit.stephanian@gmail.com. and blog is waanderer.blogspot.com

Leonard said...

My quest for good old fashioned indian food led me to your blog, and i am dying to try out all of these places. I am from delhi but studied all my college life in mumbai, and have done mumbai-brhaman in search of good food. Now that i have no links to mumbai, i wanted to do the same in delhi, but did not know where to start. i just knew that old delhi is the haven for good food and just googled "nai sarak vegetarian" and reached your blog. My culinary journey through old delhi begins around new year as i will be back in town. Hope to savour atleast a couple of these recommendations. Accept my sincere appreciation for all the effort you took in writing down all this information.

rahul verma said...

Thank you, Amit and Leonard. I had problems opening my blog but have now managed to revive it. Do share your food experiences with me. Cheers,
Rahul

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Anonymous said...

Looks like I will have to go back to Delhi-6! Shakahari is still there!

Anita Duggal said...

Your blog is very informative and gracefully
Delhi Restaurants

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