Monday, March 31, 2008
How parathas can save your life
It's that time of your monthly financial cycle again, or it could be a perpetual state of being, when you are drinking at a bar and feel that the food is too expensive. Problem is that since the realization of hunger was a bit late in coming, and since Delhi is a city that is quite unfriendly to the light wallet once it is eleven pm, there are very few options. Of course you could drive to the Comesum at Nizamuddin Railway Station and have their quite alright food from their vast menu, but then you might as well have eaten the food at the bar because it is just as expensive. Aap Ki Khatir begins to wind up operations at eleven, and so does Al Bake in NFC - and thus cheaper options to the south of the city are scarce.
Now don't get me wrong. The following can apply just as easily to those that do not drink, but are still hungry at midnight, and don't feel like McD's or the strange hot dogs at the 24X7s.
At least in the souther regions of the city, the enterprise known only as the Moolchand Parathawallah is one of the better known domestic food brands. If you are approaching the Moolchand flyover from Central Delhi, do not take it, but move parallel to it. If you are coming from Okhla or Ashram, do not take the underpass at Moolchand, but take the left and move parallel to the flyover. Before the flyover ends, there is a prominent left turn. Take it and look for the crowd. It is unlikely that there is ever more than one crowd around there, but if there is, look for the one with thick black smoke coming out. The parathawallah does not have a permanent spot around here, and the location on a particular day will depend on the vagaries of ongoing Metro construction.
From chaps in BMWs and Mercs, to people who can never dream of private transport, the business has a vast and varied clientele.
They are clear that their strength is the humble paratha, and they don't deviate too far. Regardless of the extremely limited menu of aloo-pyaaz, mooli and egg parathas, satisfaction is guaranteed for the hungry - and not just because you may be light on funds. Within thirty minutes, a friend and I had not only devoured two each of the most delicious aloo-pyaaz (potato-onion) parathas, but had even been able to get more than ten egg parathas packed - a quietly efficient, albeit polluting, food service. And the accompanying chilli pickle and raita taste excellent as well.
At least six people are employed in the business, stationed at various points of the delivery chain for different parathas. All parathas go through the standard "burn" routine which comprises of a quick dip in oil followed by the fire treatment.
For the egg paratha, a single egg is broken on to a pre-burnt paratha and then heated again.
Visit the Moolchand parathawallah - at least once if you're careful about what you put into your mouth, if you're not you will certainly end up going there several times, fitting comfortably on your financial cycle.