Fried Paranthas At Paranthe Wali Gali Are Overhyped AF & We’re So DONE!
Delhi is a land of great tourist attractions, but sadly greater tourist traps- and we grudgingly admit that the famed Paranthe Wali Gali in Old Delhi is a shining example of a food trail that looks, smells, and tastes so much better in dusty guidebooks than it does in real life.
Paranthe Wali Gali In Old Delhi
The Paranthe Wali Gali (or PWG as some loving enthusiasts refer to it) is truly a gali crammed more than the Rajiv Chowk Metro station at 6 pm on a Monday. As a vital conduit that connects Chandni Chowk to hidden gems like the Kinari Bazaar, it is perpetually jammed and stuck in the vortex of hustle-bustle. In the midst of this general chaos, lie 3 smallish eateries jostling for space (and street cred) while trying to vie ferociously with each other to woo locals and tourists alike with their famed produce.
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The Fight For The Right One
It is hard to tell which one gives the real deal, especially given they all have similar lineage and heritage claims, and a fine collection of memorabilia to substantiate their claims, including photo-ops with film stars and ex-politicians. It is even harder to tell when on closer inspection one finds that listed menu offerings are near identical, and the actual product being sold seems pretty much the same too!
Photo Courtesy Of: Wikimedia Commons
Well, fair enough- reason enough to sample this fabled delicacy at any of the places, in fact wherever one has the good fortune of being able to score a table- and one is able to place an order above all the din.
Offbeat But Why?
The choices here range from the unique to the unexpected- there is a range of paranthas on offer- from papad to kaju, and khoya to matar, and all are typically served in great style, with a fine flourish and a bevy of accompaniments ( gosh- don’t we just love the freebies!). There is a mint chutney, a sweet tamarind chutney, pickle, a potato curry and a comforting kaddu mash to go with the paranthas- and they all add their bit to elevate the entire experience.
But the paranthas themselves—now that is a whole different story.
As good gluttony loving “mollycoddled by our mother’s” North Indian boys and girls, we have been fed a steady diet of paranthas- stuffed rotis laden with ghee and fillings of all nature at every occasion—from family picnics to school tiffin to Sunday breakfast to even rolls for a hearty meal on the go.
They Are NOT Paranthas
We KNOW how paranthas go, and someone has to say this: The ‘parantha’ at PWG is no parantha—far from it, it’s closer to a kachori, and a really crisp one at that.
The paranthas we have been ODing on have been of two kinds. Either the griddle or the tawa ones that have been served on holidays at home (and savoured with the homemade pickle and fresh curd) or the tandoori style ones—the stuff that road trips and dhaba pit stops and freshly churned butter are made of.
Photo Courtesy Of: Saundarya Srinivasan
The PWG ones fit neither bill.
These overhyped numbers are deep fried (yes indeed, in case you weren’t able to tell!), crisp to the point of being crunchy, and are the most closely reminiscent of a Sindhi pakwan (a delicious deep fried bread enjoyed with dal and a range of condiments), or an overdone kachori at best. You can barely tell what the filling is in this case of heavy oil attack, that even leaves the very indulgent and gorgeously greasy Mughlai parantha far behind.
Do You Agree?
Dear culinary vultures and enthusiastic food connoisseurs, this is no parantha. Delicious as this quick eat maybe (to some), and served up with an array of sides, the history of a century, the folklore of the Nehru family and little secrets from Purani Dilli, it is clearly not what it is pretending to be.
So, let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? If a deep-fried treat is what you crave, we can direct you to several spots in the close vicinity of this gali. If, however, it is a good old-fashioned parantha your heart yearns for, and your mother, grandmother and aunt are not around to put you into a food coma, we suggest you take a trip to Moolchand, swing by Yusuf Sarai, or take a long but possibly worth it ride to Murthal. These are just some of the places in the NCR where the real deal will greet you.
Do visit the PWG, meander around the by-lanes of a time gone by, and click pictures to capture the excitement in the air. But do yourself a favour and give the ‘paranthas’ a miss—trust us, you won’t be missing much.
Featured Photo Courtesy Of: Wikimedia Commons