Saturday, December 13, 2014

Maidens Hotel, Civil Lines

Before The Imperial hotel came up in 1936, the most luxurious hotel in Delhi was Maidens in the Civil Lines. Built in 1903, it was called Maiden's Metropolitan at that time. Along with the Cecil and the Swiss Hotel, it was among the few Western-style hotels available for Europeans visiting Delhi.
Maidens Hotel, photo clicked last year
Maiden's Metropolitan was owned and run by a certain Mr. J. Maiden, who was fully involved in the day-to-day management of the establishment (and made a point of highlighting it as a major advantage). Shades of racism of course, assuming anything with a Sahib at the helm was somehow better. But perhaps I am being too sensitive. Maybe Mr. Maiden was only reassuring his customers they would be with someone culturally familiar, while negotiating a strange country. In any case, those were the days of the Raj, and I am more willing to forgive racism in an earlier era than today.
Entrance porch of hotel
The hotel was open only during the winter. In summer, the hotel shut down operations, while the firangis of Civil Lines made their escape to the cool environs of Shimla (the summer capital of the British).

The primary advantage that Maiden's Metropolitan had was its location. It was right opposite Ludlow Castle (the British Residency). The rail station was also nearby. For visiting dignitaries and their entourages, it made perfect sense to be based at Maidens. In 1879, for example, the American president Ulysses Grant visited Delhi. They arrived by train from Agra, and were received ceremoniously. Grant and his wife stayed at Ludlow Castle, but their retinue found accommodation "in the hotels around the rail station".
Ludlow Castle, now demolished. There is a school located here now.
I found an old advertisement for Maidens in John Murray's Handbook to India, Burma and Ceylon (published 1911). Long before Lonely Planet and Frommers, Murray's Handbook was a major source of information and travel tips for visitors to India. The first book came out in 1859, and several additional books came later. Every big hotel worth its name placed advertisements in Murray's handbook, and Maiden's was no exception. Note the room rates at the time: Rs 8 per night!
Advertisement in the 5th Edition of John Murray's book, 1911
The advertisement says "This Hotel is owned and managed by an Englishman of long Indian experience, who devotes his time solely to one establishment and has no connection with any other Hotel in India." This is of course, a dig at the Cecil, whose owners (the Hotz family) ran several other hotels (Cecil Agra, Wildflower Hall and Cecil Shimla). Mr. Maiden wanted to point out that their attention was obviously divided :) 

Here is Mrs. Hotz's advertisement for Cecil in the same book:
Both Mrs. Hotz and Mr. Maiden were obviously keen to highlight how modern their hotels were. Maiden says, "Electric Lights and Fans have been added, which convenience will be much appreciated, and show the up-to-date character of the house". The Cecil advertisement has "ELECTRIC LIGHT" written in allcaps :) Electricity had come to India only in the late 1800's, and that too first in Calcutta and Bombay. So these hotels were probably among the earliest buildings in Delhi to have electricity. 

Electric light in brass holder at the entrance
Maiden also made a big deal out of his "Fireproof Garage, with pit, free for use of Visitors' motor cars". There were very few cars in India at the time. Automobile manufacturing began in India only in the 1940s, so at the time this advertisement appeared, there were probably just a handful of cars that some maharajas or Englishmen had imported into India. Maybe these autos were not all that safe, and hence the fireproof garage!

There are three customer testimonials in the Maidens advertisement. The last one is from a guest who has returned after 12 years, and he says "I have been most comfortable in your new Hotel, as in the old one, and hope to see you again soon". There were actually two Maidens hotels. The first hotel was run by J Maiden and his brother. The second, the one that survives today, was run only by J Maiden. What became of the first hotel (or of the brother), I don't know. It is likely that the older hotel was modernised and relaunched in 1903, in anticipation of Lord Curzon's grand Coronation Durbar celebrations.

Maidens still survives today, it is run by the Oberoi Group now, and is classified as a 4-star hotel.  If you are looking for a heritage hotel experience in Delhi, but don't have the budget for the (much) fancier Imperial Hotel, then Maidens is a very good choice.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lotuses at the Chhatarpur Flower Market, Delhi

We went to the Chhatarpur flower market early in the morning, where Gaurav photographed these beautiful lotuses.
It reminded me of the many lovely associations of the lotus from my childhood; especially this painting of the Goddess Lakshmi by Raja Ravi Varma, which hung on the wall in our family's prayer area. She is holding lotuses in both arms; she stands on a lotus; and there are lotuses in the pool, with swans. Her saree is also lotus-pink.
I always thought the lotuses in these paintings were exaggerated depictions of the flower. But that was before I actually saw a lotus close up. The beauty of this flower is breath-taking. Look at all the layers inside! I can actually imagine a tiny Lakshmi standing on top of this flower :)
At the National Museum in Delhi, there is a rather unusual miniature painting of Vishnu, Lakshmi's consort, holding lotuses in all his arms. He is seated on a lotus. A garland of lotuses is being offered to him; his head is crowned with lotuses; and even the fly-bearer's crown is similarly studded with lotuses. This is a Pahari miniature from the 1750s, from the Mankot-Basohli school. One of the chief characteristics of the Basohli paintings is the use of lotuses as a "must-have". It is a rare Baohli painting where you will not find lotuses. The Basohli school initiated Pahari art by illustrating scenes from literary classics, such as Rasa-Manjari, Ramayana and Gita Govinda (this one below must be from Gita Govinda; see how the painting depicts the Gaudiya tradition of Vaishnavite body marks).
Even more unusual is this phoolsajya painting, again from Basohli, where Radha and Krishna are clad entirely in lotuses. Again, this is likely from the Gita Govinda, which sings of the yearning of Radha for Krishna. The song is interpreted as the yearning of the human to merge with the divine. In the Gita Govinda, Radha first enjoys the bliss of being with Krishna; then when he departs, she is filled with anguished longing. The painting below depicts the bliss of the union of Radha-Krishna using the lotus as the motif. Like the lotus, this union is beautiful, divine, tender and pure.
Even in this depiction of the fearsome Bhadrakali, the Basohli artists found a way to incorprate lotuses: look carefully and you will find them.
Lotuses are everywhere in India. In Sanskrit, there are many words denoting lotuses - for example, padma, kinjala, mrinala, pushkara. We see lotuses in the names of many Indian people, both male and female. Padma, Padmavati, Padam Singh, and so on. It is also the name of the famous pilgrimage town of Pushkar. The legend says that Lord Brahma struck the asura Vajranabha with a lotus (which is Brahma's weapon). A petal of the lotus fell here at Pushkar, and a sacred lake was created.
Oh and also, I got a real kick out of knowing that in the Star Wars series, Padme Amidala is named after the lotus too :) :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Karva Chauth in Delhi

Mehendi at Hanuman Mandir
In preparation for Karva Chauth today, Hindu women in Delhi have been getting mehendi on their hands; they have cooked delicacies and sweets for dinner, and done much bangle shopping in the bazaars. 

Today they are fasting from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and longevity of their husbands. In the evening, they will offer prayers after sighting the moon; and they will break the day long fast.

Karva Chauth and several similar festivals in other parts of India are a throwback to an era where Hindu women were defined by their marital status; and life was impossibly difficult for widows.

Bangle shop, Kinari Bazaar
Fortunately, a series of reforms by the leaders of independent India have helped change things for the better. In 1955-56, four Hindu code bills were passed: the Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, and Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act. These acts addressed many injustices that were routinely taking place and brought better representation for women's rights. 

The major changes as a result of this act were:
- Widows and daughters were awarded the same share of property as the son
- Women were allowed to divorce a cruel or negligent husband
- Husbands were prohibited from taking a second wife
- A man and woman of different castes could be married under Hindu law
- A Hindu couple could adopt a child of a different caste

The reforms were blocked by right-wing Hindu organisations and many kooky religious leaders, but were eventually pushed through due to the leadership of Nehru, Ambedkar, and many other visionaries. Unfortunately many of the original propositions had to be watered down to ensure the bills were passed.

These reforms have granted many rights to the majority of Indian women (since Hindus form 80% of India), but they continue to be controversial to the present day. Chief among the complaints is that these reforms exclude Muslims.

Anyway - since I am Hindu, and I am very much the beneficiary of the Hindu reform bills, on Karva Chauth, let me send my eternal thanks to Jawaharlal Nehru and Ambedkar. Without them, I'd be sitting here hoping and praying the male members of my family would be nice to me. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Delhi Durbar, 1911

In the winter of 1911, the grand Delhi Durbar was held to commemorate the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary as Emperor and Empress of India. A massive tent city was created north of the areas of Paharganj and Sadar Bazaar, and royalty from all over India came to stay in these tents. Every princely state was in attendance.
The decor of each tent reflected the culture and crafts of each kingdom - if you've been to Culture Gully at Kingdom of Dreams you'll know what I mean. The Jaipur tent had an Italian garden outside it. There was even a tent where the poles were covered in beaten silver :)

A massive coronation event was organised, and the King and Queen were seated on a dias in a temporary shamiana. Parades, music, salaams by 'loyal' local princes, presentations of awards - the whole event went on for a week.
I thought the shamiana's dome looked familiar - and when I looked closely it seemed almost a replica of the Jama Masjid dome. I can only assume that some political point was being proven. Or that the organisers were looking for something exotic and un-British-like and chanced upon the nearest inspiration.
On returning from the Delhi Durbar, King George gave a speech to the English Parliament in 1912. "All of India", he declared grandly, had commemorated his coronation. The event and indeed the entire visit, he said, had provided him with "overwhelming proof of the devotion of the Princes, Nobles, and Peoples of My Indian Empire to Ourselves and of their loyalty to My rule".

Remind me not to take kings and leaders too seriously :) Because, of course, the statement was quite far from the truth. The Partition of Bengal by Curzon in 1905 had already led to massive unrest. At the Congress session at Calcutta in 1906, presided by Dadabhai Naoroji, Indians were already asking for  'Swaraj' (self-government). The Swadeshi movement had been launched by Lokmanya Tilak; and Tilak had been sent to jail in 1908 for sedition. The British were trying to drive further wedges into Hindus and Muslims through the unpopular Morley-Minto "reforms" of 1909.

No wonder they felt that an appearance by a member of the royal family in 'flesh and blood' might help their cause and rally the 'native princes' to their side. The King and Queen even gave 'darshan' to the public from Red Fort, a la Shahjahan and other Mughal kings.
In concrete terms, I don't think the durbar achieved much to improve British standing in India. But King George V made two important announcements in Delhi: firstly, the partition of Bengal was annulled and, secondly, it was announced that the capital of India was to be shifted from Calcutta to Delhi. These two events make the 1911 Delhi Durbar an imporant event in the history of India.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Jawahar Vyapar Bhavan

If you drive past Janpath, you'll come across this building with its easily recognizable design of cubes and L-shapes.

It's called Jawahar Vyapar Bhavan, and it houses the offices of the State Trading Corporation of India (STC). Whenever I see the blue logo of STC (it's at the top of the building, can you see it?), I am reminded of the early years of independent India.

The STC was setup in 1956, when India had no strong manufacturing base of its own, and depended majorly on imports. We imported literally everything; including food, metals, machinery, fertilizers, etc. But we were broke. There were not enough foreign exchange reserves, so a system of rationing had to be put in place. 

India was keen to promote trade with Eastern Europe at this time - since Nehru's leanings were in that direction, and he espoused the idea of a planned economy.  The state was to play a major role in development.

So the STC was set up as the primary government arm dealing with imports and exports. It was tasked with conserving precious foreign exchange. If a businessman wanted to import something, he had to chase the babus at STC. The import had to be justified, and a license to import obtained. It was a long and torturous process; and was part of a system that went on to become infamous as the "License-Raj".

After economic liberalisation in 1991, the STC found itself redundant in many ways, and it had to reinvent itself. Today it is the chief importer for the government i.e. it imports edible oil, fertilizers, pulses, gold, metals etc based on government demand. It also imports scientific equipment and machinery for use by government laboratories and manufacturing units. The STC also helps private companies import things; by charging a fee for their expertise / service. But they no longer have a monopoly on import/export as they used to.

The STC building is located in a prime corner on Janpath, and well known to tourists because the ground floor houses the government-run handicrafts shop CCIE.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The huge Indian National Flag at Connaught Place

With Independence Day around the corner, I thought I would post this photo. This is the largest flag flying in India. It is 60 feet wide, 90 feet long, and weighs a huge 35 kilograms. 
This flag is a new addition to Delhi's skyline. It was hosted in March this year by the Flag Foundation of India.

Unlike other flags, it is not lowered at sunset, because it is adequately illuminated. This is as per the policy announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2009, that the National Flag could fly day-and-night on a pole of a height of 100 ft. and above with proper illumination.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Wall art in Shahpur Jat, Delhi

Last week I photographed this piece of wall art in Shahpur Jat Village. It's a techno-fitted goose with a metallic beak and armour; and there's a sort of Alibaba-esque girl in a cape riding it. Maybe it's a boy. I can't tell for sure. It's by Aerosol Assasins, and they call it Samsam.
The Samsam goose wall is very close to my office, where we have been witnessing the neighbourhood change for the past 4 years. From a rustic village with buffaloes, Shahpur Jat has morphed into a new hip location with boutiques and cafes. This wall art is part of the new hipness. Here's another one, by Mattia Lullini, an Italian artist (photo from his website):
Interesting huh? Certainly spices up what is otherwise a very sorry-looking collection of badly maintained residences. There's lots more stuff like this, all over the village. You can see it here. The artwork on walls has been done by visiting artists, both Indian and international.

Whenever an outsider decides to go into a neighbourhood and spruce it up, we immediately run into the issue of agency. To me the important question in wall art is always - Whose wall is it? Whose choices are these? What power issues are at play? Agency is everything.

I can't help thinking that the locals (i.e. the original residents of the village) probably prefer art that is more in keeping with their own traditions. We see great wall art all over Rajasthan, UP, etc. Here's the most photographed elephant wall art in Udaipur:
I also really loved this representation of Hanuman in Jaisalmer, outside the Hanuman Temple. I wonder which artist did this.
I've spotted some incredible wall art all over India; plastered on humble mud-huts sometimes; and sometimes decorating havelis and temples. This one is from one of the alleys at Varanasi:
My personal opinion is that traditional stuff like this would have probably worked better for the local residents of Shahpur Jat and made them feel this was a real "beautification of the neighbourhood" (which is what St. Art calls this project). Not to mention, it would have kept some traditional artists employed.

But this project was not commissioned by locals. They didn't pay for it. That immediately changes things, doesn't it? They were asked to lend their walls for a free beautification project. Maybe the goose with the metallic beak is something that the flat-owner didn't really want. Maybe he just figured he was getting something for free; and decided to not look a gift horse in the mouth. Maybe he hates it now; then again, maybe he loves it now.

Actually nothing about art is straightforward. What is "modern art", anyway? Art is not static. It's not as if we can draw a line between "modern" and "traditional" Indian art. That Hanuman painting on the wall of Jaisalmer temple is pretty funky / modern if you ask me. I know that probably *everyone* in Shahpur Jat loves this one of  'Fearless Nadia' by Ranjit Dahiya:
All art is a commentary about the world we see around us; interpreted through our individual lenses. The techno-goose is one such commentary; so is the gorgeous Nadia, and so are Lullini's weird snakes. The new generation in Shahpur Jat probably doesn't think the same way as their parents; maybe they like looking at art that rebels, or art that provokes. We should not be rejecting contemporary expressions of aesthetics; or we'll just stagnate.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Next batch of Delhi by Metro guides!

Some of our 2014 batch of Delhi by Metro guides! Training begins next week. Photo taken at the Manzil centre at Sujan Singh Park.
This programme is done in partnership with Manzil, a non-profit that works in empowement and upskilling of young people. You can read more about it here:

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Bharany Collection - at the National Museum, Delhi

I went to see the Bharany collection on display at the National Museum. The show is called the Passionate Eye, and it represents a small selection from the vast collections of R. K. Bharany, whose son donated this collection to the museum.

Even the loveliest of gems needs a sensitive setting, and I was delighted at the aesthetics of the exhibition. The dark matte background, and the subtle lighting ensured that the objects drew the eye, and you were led through a progression of themed items. 
The Bharany collection is actually very varied; so making sense of it and ensuring that the layout has a natural physical progression without confusing and repeating themes is important. It's like story-telling. Every museum exhibition is a piece of story-telling. 

I was looking around, wondering who the story-tellers were; the magic guys who had highlighted and brought this set of art objects alive. I was lucky to bump into Siddhartha Chatterjee, who designed the exhibition display and the graphics. He was kind enough to explain some parts of the process. I realised, very quickly, the enormous work and thought that has gone into A Passionate Eye. I could only understand a tiny part of the thought process in our ten minutes together, but it was a valuable insight. I would have liked to spend more time, just talking about the project, but you know how it is - the day has just so many hours, and I had multiple meetings lined up. 
In the photo above you can see one of the many highlights of the exhibition; a Rajasthani pichwai, with a Vishnu bronze from Kerala in the foreground. Siddhartha explained to me that in designing this section, they decided to go with a primarily Vaishnavite theme; but also that hidden in one corner were two interesting exceptions :) If you visit the exhibition, see if you can spot them!

A Passionate Eye is on view at the National Museum until 14 August, from 10am -5pm, all days of the week except Mondays.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Rai-Jamun in the monsoons!

The jamun-sellers are back! Yesterday I ate these sweet, slightly sour, happily purple jamuns.
Woman sitting near National Museum who sold us the jamuns
The fruits were sprinkled with kala namak (a type of rock salt)... yum! Apart from
being delicious the salt also counters the jamun's astringency.
These are rai jamuns (Syzigium nervosum), not to be confused with regular jamuns (Syzigium cumini). Rai jamun is a different species that has slightly bigger, more elongated fruits. The jamun wallahs call rai jamun "ashadiya jamun" because it ripens in Ashad (June-July). The regular jamun is called "jamoa" or "bhadoniya jamun", and ripens in Bhadon (August-September). Most of the trees in Lutyens' Delhi are jamuns, though rai jamuns line the lawns on both sides of Rajpath.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

2:30 AM at Jama Masjid during Ramzan

Behind the Jama Masjid, the streets were still buzzing with activity at 2:30 AM. More photos to follow.

Photos posted here:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Taj Mahal view from a boat in Yamuna River

Some of the guys from our Delhi office went to Agra this week, and here's what they clicked from a boat on the Yamuna river. The Taj looks gorgeous, doesn't it?
The water level at the Taj Mahal this week is quite high, but when the monsoons really kick in, it will go much higher. The river current is not very fast, so it's ok for the boats which are still rowed by hand. This photo was clicked in the evening around 5:45 p.m.

Photo credit: Gaurav Jain,

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Beating the heat - pineapple seller in Karol Bagh

Whew. The mercury is still rising in Delhi. Thank god for pineapples! The salt and spice in the masala balances the sweetness of the fruit perfectly.
You can feel the energy flow into you the minute you bite into them!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Ideal Boy, then and now

From the publishers Indian Book Depot (Map House) in Sadar Bazaar: these are the behaviours of the Ideal Indian Boy. This old chart is from the 1950's, I think. The National Cadet Corps in one of the boxes was formed in 1946, so this could be late 1940's as well.
Things haven't changed much in 21st century India; the same behaviours are considered ideal. But the chart now has pictures of girls as well. The original chart sold for 30 rupees; right now it is 70 rupees on PVC. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Beating the heat - Lychee seller in Old Delhi

In the 1700's, lychees came to India from Burma (they are actually originally from China). 

They have adapted well to India; and they grow well especially in Bihar, which today produces 75% of India's lychee crop. It's a difficult fruit, mainly because it has only a week or so of shelf-life, from the time it is harvested.

Lychees ripen on the tree, are harvested in May-June, and they show up on Delhi's handcarts immediately, where they are sold by weight.
Here's a closer look. There are many varieties of lychees in India, but mostly they are pale in colour by the time they come to the market. This is because fruits are transported at normal temperature conditions i.e. without pre-cooling. The market reach is limited to places/cities which can be reached quickly, since the fruits lose their attractive red colour after 48 hours.
The most popular variant is called Shahi (photo above); it is a sort of deep pink in colour, with an oblong shape and rounded end. It is grown in North Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh; and it comes to the Delhi market in May. Shahi has a distinct rose aroma; and it has a thin, more delicate skin compared to other varities of lychees.

When lychees are harvested, it is always along with the twigs and leaves (you can see the twigs in the photo). Care is taken not to let the fruit fall to the ground during harvest. They are packed in baskets along with grass, twigs and leaves, and sent to the nearest city.

Lychees growers rarely market it themselves. They actually pre-sell their crop to contractors, who then take over the orchard during harvest time. The contractor has full control over the orchard for that period. After harvest, the famer is back in control of the orchard. Of course, the contractor makes most of the money.

Better facilities for cooling, storage and transport would really improve the returns from lychee (export markets will open up more). It will also allow farmers to market directly to the cities. As always, it's a question of scale and infrastructure.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Thoughts on Delhi-Belly and how to avoid it

"How can I avoid Delhi Belly?"

I get asked this question very regularly, so I thought I'd post a reply here.

Travellers get stomach upsets in India due to multiple reasons. The primary reason is of course hygiene, or rather, the lack of it.

If you're eating at an upscale restaurant or a five-star hotel, you can be more or less sure that the food is hygenic and the ingredients are fresh. Even in mid-range restaurants, there are lots of places which are very popular and where the food turnaround is quick.  If you're on a driving tour, your driver will know of such places. They are usually places where lots of tourists go, and where the drivers are often offered free meals.
Restaurant near Agra highway, nothing fancy, but good food, our driver took us.
The street stalls are definitely iffy. Avoiding street food is a good idea, although that usually means missing out on some of the best food in the country. If you want to try street food, then eating at places where the food is fresh, where it is cooked right before serving, is a good idea. Many stalls often offer freshly cooked or fried food, but their eating utensils and the water they use to wash them in are questionable. If you're just eating a freshly deep-fried samosa off a piece of paper, you will actually be ok, but eat a little, and don't gorge whole platefuls. 
Typical stall in Old Delhi - sellling pakoras, samosas, jalebis, etc.
Eating vegetarian is an even better idea, especially if you are on a budget, because at cheaper non-vegetarian stalls, there is usually no refrigeration and the quality of the fish and meat is questionable.

The second (and bigger) reason why people get stomach upsets is the nature of the food in restaurants. Indian food tends to have a complex set of spices, and while this makes it delizioso :) :) it also makes it difficult for your stomach.
Spices, chutneys and pickles at Paranthewali Galli
When I travel in Rajasthan, I always get stomach upsets because the masalas and cooking techniques of Rajasthani food are different from what I use at home. Also restaurant food tends to be more greasy and buttery than the light food we eat at home. The way to handle this is to try and mix familiar and unfamiliar foods in your trip. For foreigners visiting India, I would recommend eating Western breakfasts and dinners, and Indian lunches (while sightseeing). This gives your digestive system the ability to handle things well. Another major secret is yoghurt. Indians drink lots of lassi, and eat lots of yoghurt. This keeps our internals in good order.
The famous lassi at Mishrilal, Jodhpur
Some other do's and don't: Stick to bottled water. Avoid fresh juices from street stalls. Avoid salads that have been in the open too long. Stay in places where the food is of good quality. Bring hand sanitizer. That's about it. Beyond this, you have to trust to luck!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Oven-baked Amritsari Aloo Kulcha

My version of oven-baked Amritsari Aloo Kulcha.

A desi-pizza, really!

Very, very tasty. Stuffed with masala potatoes, garnished with chaat masala, red chilli powder and fresh coriander.

Dough: made just like pizza dough, refined flour + yeast, raised and made to sit for 2 hours.

Stuffing: Boil and mash potatoes, add salt, amchur (dry mango powder), red chilli powder, coriander, cumin.

Roll and pat by hand with oil, into small circle. Add a spoon of stuffing, fold and pat again by hand into kulcha shape, flip from hand to hand to stretch.

Heat oven to 250C and bake for 4-5mins.

Garnish with chaat masala and a little red chilli powder and coriander leaves. Serve hot.

We are having it with tadka dal, i.e. dal tempered with cumin, garlic, green chillies. We also made biryani, but that was because I thought this kulcha wouldn't work out.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tea sets at Nizamuddin

These metal tea-sets are popular with those who visit Nizamuddin dargah. Check them out next time you visit the dargah. They are sold at small road-side stalls.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Beating the heat - Shikanji-seller near Red Fort

Summer is here! So I thought I'd post a cooling image for the hot days ahead!
Shikanji is hugely popular in Delhi, you will see hand-carts selling Shikanji everywhere. The drink is primarily lemon-juice and water, to which sugar, black salt and mint is added. Often there is cumin and ginger also. Each shikanji seller has his own balance of ingredients, making for a non-standardised but always yummy taste. It's a great way to replenish the electrolytes that you lose in the heat. In some larger stalls, it is served with soda, instead of water.

If you want to try making it at home, you can go to the market and ask for Jain Shikanji Masala. All you need to do is add lemon-juice and water or soda to it, and adjust the sugar levels to your liking. Garnish with mint.