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Mughlai Food – Jama Masjid, Delhi

March 29, 2019

I’ve been visiting Delhi on and off since 2010. Initially, it was for work. I remember being so fascinated by the city when I first visited it, that I would itch to venture out alone and explore the bylanes and gullies trying out different street food and learning more about the Capital’s history. The first time I could do that was in January 2017, when I made it a point to make a trip to Delhi with the husband. That’s when we covered Delhi, Agra and Amritsar. Some of the best experiences of my life! That’s also when Vipul (@foodie_baba) took Ishaaq and me for a super memorable breakfast walk to some of Delhi’s iconic vegetarian outlets). More on that here if you haven’t already read it.

During that trip, try as we might, we couldn’t fit the non-vegetarian, Jama Masjid part of Delhi’s iconic food places into our itinerary. Then last October, Ishaaq had a shoot that took us to the same places, and this sudden work trip gave us a second chance to try our hand at the authentic Mughlai cuisine we’d heard so much about, and boy, did we take it! With a combination of Vipul’s suggestions from a while ago and some more Internet research, Ishaaq and I braved the crowds, the pollution, the traffic and the bylanes of Meena Bazaar and Jama Masjid to sample some of Delhi’s best Mughlai food – from lipsmacking butter tandoori chicken, to one of the best Niharis I’ve had, to amazingly soft seekh kebabs ‘butter maar ke’, and finally a rather anti-climactic Jahangiri chicken! Ended it all with some warm lemon water to flush down all that butter. Here’s how you can have some of the stuff we did, and more (if you have the tummy space)!

Butter Tandoori Chicken, Aslams (pic above)

Aslams is a fairly small-sized establishment on the main road of Meena Bazaar, with two towering floors chockablock with people, serving up regular Mughlai fare. But patrons keep coming back to it to have the iconic Butter Tandoori Chicken. While I initially thought it to be the regular butter chicken – I was in for a super awesome surprise. The dish is a basic tandoori chicken (without the artificial colour, thank God) doused in dahi and melted butter and served hot in a shallow bowl where you can literally dip each chicken piece into the butter-yoghurt mix to relish every bite.

Haji Shabrati Nihare Wale

There’s nihari and there’s nihari. Although I plan to have, what I’m sure will be the best, Nihari in Lucknow, this one at Haji Shabrati Nihare Wale definitely comes close to one of the best I’ve had yet. I love Nihari – I discovered it very late in life, but put a bowl of spicy, hot Nihari in front of me with some tandoori roti and you will not hear a word from me for a good 20 minutes! Haji Shabrati is literally in a bylane of a bylane and is quite complicated to find. Add to that the location, and you might just cringe – but the Nihari (which is slow-cooked for hours) is worth it all.

Babubhai Kababwale

Babubhai isn’t the friendliest of men – but his seekh kebab corner is possibly the cleanest place in all of old Delhi! And, his mutton seekh – that you can’t help but grab as you walk past him on the road – with the same butter-yoghurt sauce topped with sliced onions, lime and green chutney, can make you go weak in the knees.

We wanted to try the Chicken Changezi (it was created in Delhi, after all) but by the time we were done, we were so stuffed with all of the above that it seemed worth sacrificing (especially since it was further away from any of these places)!

Some tips, if you do plan to visit Old Delhi for Mughlai food:

  1. You will find most of these locations on Google Maps
  2. Don’t take an Uber – it is chaotic; a rickshaw would be your best bet
  3. Carry plenty of wet wipes with you
  4. Bring back some of that Butter Tandoori Chicken for me, if you do happen to go!  

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