Paharganj, deemed to be home to loads of tour and travel agencies and scads of hotels and lodges, is also a food lover’s paradise. The affordability of the place not only lies in the receptions of these cost-effective hotels but also at several food joints in the market of Paharganj. Not to forget, the place also holds an abundance of history, which is made evident by ancient-looking houses and buildings with majestic facades. Interesting part? The houses visibly from another time are still intact.
One December morning (too early a morning for me!), two of my friends and I planned to have breakfast in Paharganj. The expectations of what the morning had for me had got me all excited. The central plan of our sojourn was to eat at the very famous Sitaram Diwan Chand for its very famous Chole Bhature, a staple breakfast for Delhiites. However, the small morning stroll opened new avenues for me, much beyond my initial knowledge of Paharganj.
Just as we got off the R K ashram metro station, several e-rickshaws were clustered right at the exit of the station. There were also manual rickshaws which have become a rare sight in most parts of the capital. We, however, gave them no business and decided to walk.
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To kick start your breakfast trail on a winter morning, what can be better than a hot cup of chai. If you don’t have a particular spot in your mind to have chai, it is always a good idea to ask around and trust the locals. We decided to have chai at an old restaurant, which was just starting with the preparations of paranthas for other customers and chai for us. The market was just preparing to open and we were chatting as we waited for our chai. Three chais arrived and the first sip of it was nothing sort of a respite from the biting cold. The chai was not extra-ordinarily tasty but it felt like a warm hug. Also, chai and conversations go very well hand in hand and we talked a lot while sipping on our chai.
Moving forward, as we were approaching our next stop, it was during that walk that we witnessed those old homes, much more chai tapirs hosting people and their conversations, people opening their shops, and a long road ahead. We finally reached Sitaram Diwan Chand to have its famous Chole Bhature. The place was in full swing as we reached there. We ordered three plates of Chole Bhature and didn’t have to wait for them to arrive. They were preparing it fresh and ready to serve.
Our plates looked something like-
The servings may look small but mind you, one plate is enough to satiate your tummy. The chole bhature of this place holds an esteemed reputation and rightfully so. The place holds a lot of history and has been serving generations. What stands today as a big business serving food that the whole of Delhi loves, started on a bicycle in the 1970s.
The chole bhature, along with cold and sweet lassi, make for a drool-worthy and fulfilling breakfast. The bhatura was soft and not oily and soaked the chhole quite well, a made for each other combination. Chhole itself was not too spicy but still full of flavours.
As we finished eating there, we made our way to another popular joint, ‘Amritsari Special Chur Chur Naan ‘, where we ordered one thali of Aloo Chur Chur naan, courtesy of the Chole Bhature we’d just had. The place was again brimming with people, some waiting for their orders, some in the middle of gobbling up their meals. Our thali arrived, our conversation ranging from my grandmother and her very talents to Lucknow and its food, we finished it no time. Needless to say, the meal left us in a state of satiety. We sat for a while, allowing our body to make peace with so much food, and made our way again to the market of Paharganj.
The Paharganj market serves tourists from all over the world and thus the hippie influences can be witnessed there, from the clothes to the accessories. However, exploring the market of Paharganj is an experience in itself and because we were short of time, we decided to take an early leave from the place. The food of the place, the hard-working people there who make the market alive, and those who visit the place to experience it, all of this constitute the buzz that Paharganj is. And this December winter morning we soaked in that buzz in abundance along with some warm sunlight.