By Suman Tarafdar
The popular Dilli 6 food festival at Edesia is not just about the food though, but recreates the unique ambience of the area via multiple touchpoints
Has Chandni Chowk relocated to south Delhi? You might think that to be the case at Bazaar-e-Purani, where you come across a Aam Kulfi Wala, get kaanch ki churiyan, get a foot massage done in rose petalled water and leather encased low sofas, followed by ‘boot polish’ and of course get your bhavishya vani from a pandit – complete with a parakeet, grab a desi paan as you cross the famed landmarks of purani dilli – Ballimaran, Bhagirath Place, Chawri Bazaar, Dariba Kalan, Khari Baoli, Kinari Bazaar…
Well, all this has been recreated at Edesia, the multi-cuisine restaurant at Crowne Plaza, Okhla, which is hosting its signature food festival ‘Dilli 6’, now in its 13th year. While all of the above create the setting, the star is of course the food and beverages. Ashutosh Bisht, Executive Sous Chef, “The concept for the food festival is the different markets of the area, which we have tried to recreate. Our chefs have collaborated with local khansamas to capture the secrets behind the aromatic delicacies which are deeply rooted in Chandni Chowk’s culture. Our food menu celebrates the street food hawkers of the old city in an extremely hygienic set up.”
As you peruse through the counters for a quick dekko before lading your plates, it becomes quickly obvious that going through the 50 odd dishes of the day is going to require a super Herculean effort. Well, so what? Refusing ‘purani Dilli ka khana’ is akin to blasphemy for any gourmand.
To start with, there are chaats. Dahi Bhalla, Golgappe, Aloo Chaat, Fruit Kulia Chaat, Palak Patta Chaat, Matar Samosa, Dal Kachori, Khadi Baoli ke Mashoor Pakode are just some of the starter options. Of course, you could also opt for Matra Kulcha or Chole Bhature, downed with sides of Gola Ice Cream, Sweet Lassi, Nimbu Paani, Chhach… If you choose to go another way, there are also a range of kebabs, delicious all, finished to perfection in front of you.
No, no, I am not forgetting the area’s deep-fried parathas at all – there is a whole counter with a range of fillings for you choose from – and you can opt for them as I inadvertently did – with a resulting fire taking generous doses of desserts to put out.
In between, do take in all the bright décor – posters typical to the area, ads from a past era evoking nostalgia, colourful buntings, electronics displays at where else – Bhagirath Place of course, a crimson post box, where you can actually drop a post card – helpfully provided by the colourfully decked attendants. There is even a room done up as a typical hotel room one would encounter in a hotel in say Daryaganj or Paharganj. If you are still hungry, there are fruit chaats. A ‘hawker’ (in this case, Deepak, who helpfully doubled up) comes to your table to offer chanachor - again made to your order of course. The biryani counter is a thela with a tarazu, with shiny handis laden with veg / non veg biryanis. Yes, buddhi ke baal a.k.a. candy floss.
Yes, to return to the mains, again, most of the famous dishes of the area are on the buffet. Make you way through Mutton Nihari, Chicken Changezi, Murgh Begum Bahar, Kofta Sham Savera, and Dal Dilruba, along with other fish, paneer and vegetarian dishes whose names escape me at the moment – so satiated was I by this time. Of course, the best part for me were the breads - Roomali rotis, Rogani naans, Doodh wali roti and dry fruit Sheermal. And the delicious ‘Biscuit’ – a unique bread that perhaps is best had on its own.
No, I haven’t forgotten vast dessert counters. Choose from Daulat Ki Chaat, Palang tod Barfi, Habshi Halwa, Rabdi Faluda, Sunhari Paita Halwa, Phirni, Shahi Tukda, Jalebis, a huge steaming tray of giant Gulabjamuns – a real test of resistance for those with a sweet tooth more. Yes, you will need the Paan that is thankfully at the exit counter.
“Guests like the way the food is presented and the variety we have,” points out Bisht. “We try to bring everything under one roof, and made it more popular as we proceeded year by year.” While the ‘Old Delhi’ experience is hard to replicate elsewhere, this festival brings together the best of its culinary delicacies in one place, a huge convenience, as any visitor will testify.
Here’s why you repeat your visits. The menu apparently has cyclic dishes with more than 100 options. Just a suggestion - pace yourself as you tuck into all the deliciousness.
Dilli 6 Food Festival
When: February 17- March 3, 2023
Address: Edesia at Crowne Plaza Today New Delhi Okhla
Cost per person: ₹2,699 plus taxes
Timings: 7pm to 11pm
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