Lucknow Part 4 – Parathas galore
We were soon navigating through the gullies of Chandni Chowk being led by our Delhiite; Chandni Chowk is very similar to the gullies in Sowcarpet (Chennai). The gullies were packed with small shops and most over here targeted women – clothes, cosmetics etc. There were also many small eateries along the way. Arpit and I were tempted by a Dahi Bhalla (curd vada) shop – they had a large plate where the vadas were soaked in curd. We stopped and looked at each other for a few seconds wondering whether to indulge or not – in the end it was too tempting to resist; add to it the fact that we were hungry – we shared a plate. And since the rest of the gang was well ahead of us we didn’t call them either.
The lane from the dahi bhalla shop led us to an open area with a lot of ruble and barricades due to construction activity; it seemed like at some point of time this might have been a main road. Because of our unannounced pit stop we didn’t know where our gang was. After a couple of minutes we found them on the other side of the rubble; they were wondering why we both were so slow! Past the rubble we ventured deeper into the maze; the gullies became narrower and dirtier; one of them had stagnant water that was probably from yesterday’s rain – to get across the puddle there were two bricks positioned such that you had to hop from one to the other to escape the puddle. Some waited for their turn while some were happy to step into the puddle and wet their feet to get across quickly instead of waiting in queue. Since i was in shoes I tried tip-toeing across quickly and hoped that the adjacent gully would be dry; but that was even worse since there was running water on both sides of the lane! I noticed a guy crouched on the left side, below an eatery washing vessels; was he washing it off the water from the street or was there another stream of water coming from one of the pipes out of the eatery? I didn’t want to take a second look and just raced ahead. I couldn’t believe people were eating in this street. By now our group had split and three of us were the ones in front.
When we found a place to stand, the Delhiite announced, “That was the parathe wali galli”. Literal translation means the street with parathas (Wiki says paratha is a type of flatbread). Our host, the bridegroom, had given us a food itinerary of places to eat at and this was one of the places on the list!
“No way in that street.”
“We won’t eat there,” the three of us agreed.
We finally got to a dry lane and waited for the others to catch up.
While we waited with people and vehicles bustling past us, we spotted a couple of roadside chaat shops where we satisfied our hunger a little. The kulchas with butter were amazing.
When after finishing 2 dishes we still didn’t see any signs of our gang, we gave them a call.
“They want to eat there?”
“In the galli?”
“Yes. They’re calling.”
This didn’t sound like a good idea but with the majority of the group over there we didn’t have a choice. We stood at the end of the street to confirm that our gang was really there – they were and they were vigorously signaling to us to join them. We stepped into a small restaurant opposite the one where I saw the guy washing vessels.
We occupied 3 out of the 5 tables in the shop; fortunately the place was a couple of steps higher than the street and so there was no water flowing into the restaurant.
The place was meant for parathas and the menu was plastered on the walls – very convenient compared to passing around menus! We ordered as much of the variety available as we could – the sides were a potato and peas kurma and sweet chutney (the one used in chaats). There were so many parathas – any veg item you could think of, you’d find that paratha here – from peas to radish to bitter gourd to almonds and cashews and bananas and what not. But the one we loved the most was the khoa paratha (sweet khoa stuffing).
We dug into the food conveniently ignoring the fact that just a few minutes earlier we were worried about hygienic cooking conditions!
“They could have had a place upstairs with few beds. What more does one need – good food and good sleep.”
We ended the roughly Rs.200 per head lunch with a sweet lassi; a sumptuous meal for the price. It was nearly 4pm when we left; people were still entering the shop – parathas are available throughout the day!
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