It was a dark and stormy night and by all rights I should have been at home having a hot meal and making myself comfortable with a good book. But once the photography bug has bitten you then you can’t help but consider the inclement weather just a minor discomfort compared to the joy of taking pictures, especially when it came with the added attraction of tasting the Iftar food in the lanes and by-lanes near Crawford Market.
Come Ramzan and these streets are packed with food stalls selling food for the devout to break their fast. And foodies all over come and join the celebrations by coming in large numbers to taste the food and soak in the atmosphere.
So umbrella in one hand and camera in another, I joined my friends to taste the famous Bara Handi (Twelve Pots) in Nagpada Lane. The shop opposite the mosque was more than a hundred years old; the restaurant was full and tables and chairs had been laid out on the pavement to tackle the spill over. The awning wasn’t too water proof and water was splashing down on the tables but it didn’t deter all the brave souls who were actually holding umbrellas over their heads while tucking into the delicious food.
Bara Handi is a bohra dish made of twelve types of curries made from beef or mutton, some thick gravy and some thin salans. The traditional clay pots have been replaced by steel utensils; a clay platform with a fire at its base keeps the pots simmering all the time.
We had a great variety of dishes from a variety of chicken kababs to melt in the mouth niharis, all accompanied by fluffy rotis hot from the tandoor.
But the treat wasn’t over yet. The rain was pouring down and the roads were dark, wet and slippery and teeming with people when we made our way to Minara Masjid (Mosque) for even more delicacies. All around there were skewers full of meat being roasted, tawas (griddles) spilling over with liver, kidney, tongue, brain and other exotic body parts cheek by jowl with shops selling fruits, dry fruits and sweets of all description.
The second instalment of dinner was a bit more adventurous, magaz (brain) curry liberally spiced, crisply fried quail with chat masala (tangy spice mix), liver and some more kababs to add to the mix.
But we weren’t done by any means and strolled ( or was it waddled) over to Sulaiman Mithaiwala ( Sweet seller) to partake in some malpuas ( fried sweet) and phirni ( rice pudding). To my surprise the malpuas were completely different from the ones I have had in Calcutta and each monstrous creation dipped in sugar syrup and served with rabdi (thickened milk) had five whole eggs in the batter.
Let me tell you that I am salivating while writing this post and will soon be making a midnight snack to alleviate the hunger pangs.
Now to try this out in Delhi and don’t worry a report duly illustrated will reach you soon.