Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eating at Paranthewali Gali

The name Paranthewali Gali says it all, yes it is one lane where one can get stuffed with the breakfast fare of paranthas throughout the day. Can paranthas be so famous to be eaten at anytime – lunch, brunch or dinner – you wonder? But the crowds don’t think so and once you taste the paranthas, well even you won’t think so either! In the busy by lane of Chandni chowk are the parantewali shops. In earlier times when Chandni Chowk was a must visit for anyone, it boasted of about 16 shops selling nothing but paranthas today it is down to a 4. Never mind, the fare is still its pristine best, though old timers, my parents included swear the size of the paranthas was definitely bigger than what it is today! The paranthas are still made traditionally and shallow fried in pure “desi” ghee. The range – from the ubiquitous aloo (potato), gobi (cauliflower), gajar (carrot), methi (fenugreek) to the more exotic papad, rabri, mixed vegetables, karela (bitter gourd)… the price from an affordable Rs. 25/- to Rs. 40/- per parantha. It is value for money as it is accompanied by a couple of varieties of subzi, chutney and salad.

Location – Chandni Chowk is located next to the Old Delhi Railway Station, at an approximate 4 kms from Connaught Place. Turn in left from the turning in front of Kanwarjis sweet shop on the main road.

Timings – Open throughout the week, about 9 am in the morning to late in the evening. Parking at the MCD parking lot and from there walk it to the Gali. Rickshaws can be seen only on Sundays. The rest of the days, it is banned on the main road.

Highlight – Almost all the paranthas taste good, wrap up the binging on paranthas with imarti or kulfi at Kanwarjis at the corner. The subzi accompanying the paranthas are again typical old Delhi fare so one can come across the rarely seen pumpkins, jackfruit variance as also typical chole, paneer fare.

Insider Tip – The paranthas though made in ghee rest easy on the stomach and are very light and filling. It is very easy to loose count of the number of paranthas polished off, what with the makers gently coaxing saying try another piping hot one, “you have not tried the mirchi or methi one, it is good”!! Ideal hogging for the warm winter months.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Garden of Five Senses

Garden of Five Senses, at Said ul ajaid, the heritage part of Mehrauli truly awakens the five senses. Yes - sight, touch, sound, smell and taste. The garden is beautifully planned, designed and maintained more as a prayer and ode to the maker for the gift of five senses we possess. The garden has aspects, which evokes each of these senses taking one beyond the real physical world to a dream like float of bliss. With Qutab Minar playing the backdrop at a distance it evokes dreams of a distant past. Spread over 20 acres, the architecture blends superbly with the ruins of Mehrauli. The stone columns, pillars, seating arrangements, amphi theatre all bring out aspects of architecture from Delhi’s historical past. The use of stainless steel in limited manner blends in the contemporary. An ideal blend of tradition with the modern is this project of the Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation.

The ambience is one of simply doing nothing. The restaurants at both the gates offer spiced up products, the designer shops offer enough excuse to browse through and shop. It buzzes with activity during various festivals.

Location – Said Ul Ajaid, Saket. Turn in to the left as you come down the IIT crossing, just before the statue of Mahavir at Ahimsa Sthal. Then the first right in, there are directions all along. Follow the road to reach the Garden.

Timing – Open from 8 am to 8 pm on all days. Tickets – Rs. 15/- for adults, Rs. 10 for children (ages 3 to 10) and senior citizens. Plenty of space is available for parking. Parking cost Rs. 10/-.

Highlight - The installation by Kristine Michael, John Bowman’s tree, Enaz, Subodh Kerkar, Radhakrishnan..stand out as the Mughal era inspired char bagh style of garden. Try identifying the various trees - The kadam wood trees, camphor, pine, teak, rudraksha, kalpavriksh, kamandal…. The Trail of fragrance, appropriately named, appeals to the sense of smell. The aroma of champa, chameli, lavender, raat ki rani, rose and marigold is wonderful. Various varieties of palm can be seen. The bamboo garden houses a variety of rarely seen bamboos like black, green, Buddha and dwarf.

Insider Tip – The best time to visit is day time to catch the sun in winters and late evening in summers, when the ambience and the breeze is a welcome change from the furnace like environs of Delhi. In the evenings, the fountains work and with the dimmed light around, it is truly another world. The food including Fruit Beer, is welcome, though is a deservingly another blog. Public transport is not available so please be sure you have a vehicle to ferry you to and fro. For the conservative, “the romance in the air” can be irksome!!! The drive from the road to the Garden is beautiful and sets the tone to what is to follow.

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