This article is a part of our series where we invite contributions from Delhi lovers. This article has been penned by Sanchita Srivastava, who is a student of history at the Delhi University, and loves to write.
Alright people, we all know that Delhi is pretty famous for its historical monuments, its cultural heritage and…. well, the list is endless, right? But are all these reasons good enough for you to leave behind that cosy bed, put on your walking shoes and start exploring Delhi in this chilling winter? Well, let me try and tempt you. I am going to give you a glimpse of a place which is as irresistible as its name. Unbelievably soft and delicious paranthas, with a dollop of butter caressing it, the hot steam made divine with its aroma…. Oh, do I see your mouth watering already?
Enough suspense then, I am talking about the famous Paranthe Wali Gali of Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi (I am sure all you foodies out there are now reading this with a lot more attention! ). Around 40 – yes, I repeat myself-around 40 different types of paranthas are served to hungry customers in one of the numerous by-lanes of Chandni Chowk. The fillings range from the usual- aaloo (potatoes), gobhi (cauliflower), gaajar (carrots), mooli (radish) and paneer (cottage cheese); to the adventurous- methi (fenugreek), pudina (mint), karela (bitter gourd), bhindi (ladyfingers); to the downright exotic- kela (banana), khurchan (thick layer of cream) and dry fruits. Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? At least I never knew that one could savor so many varieties of the humble Indian bread! What I also did not know, as I’m sure most of you don’t either, is the amazing history of this place which is nothing short of a paradise for food lovers.
It was in the year 1872 that Pt. Gaya Prasad, a young man in his early twenties, left his home in Agra and came to Delhi. He soon put up a shop in a lane entering the Kinari Bazaar (which itself is quite popular with the locals for beautiful laces that could spice up any Indian attire) in Chandni Chowk. This lane was originally called ‘Chota Dariba’ or ‘Dariba Kalan’ (etymologically, derived from a Persian word Dur-e-be-baha which means a Pearl without compare, perhaps because of the several jewelers and silverware sellers in this area). In this shop our humble Gaya Prasad started making paranthas. It wasn’t long before 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 of shops – all belonging to the extended families of Gaya Prasad. Little would they have imagined that the lane itself would become popular and famous after their paranthas as the Gali Paranthe Wali (Lane of Paranthas)!
However, now only three of these shops, including the oldest one, have remained, and are successfully managed by the sixth generation of the Gaya Prasad family. Over the years, many celebrities have visited the place- from politicians to celebrities. Interestingly, all of these shops had photographs on the walls showing Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Vijay Lakshmi Pandit and Babu Jagjivan Ram feasting on stuffed paranthas at the Paranthe Wali Gali.
After reading the sumptuous description above, I am sure you all are going to beat the winter chill with the piping hot paranthas of this place. I know some of you might be a little nervous about finding the exact street amidst the plethora of lanes and by-lanes, but as you stroll deeper you’ll be greeted by a delicious aroma and you’ll know you are heading in the right direction! But let me warn you, these paranthas are deep-fried, so all you calorie-conscious folks better make a mental note to hit the gym as soon as you indulge yourself 🙂
Here’s a map to aid you in your discovery of parantha heaven. As you will see, it’s not far from the metro at all!