Deep in the heart of atmospheric Old Delhi, amongst the criss-crossing alleys and lanes that snake through the city, lies a slim street with a reputation for producing some of the best parathas in town.
Paranthe Wali Gali translates as ‘the lane of paratha makers’ and is located in the Chandni Chowk district of Delhi. Popular amongst foodies visiting the choicest culinary hotspots of India, it is a steamy alleyway lined with paratha stands, little cafes and brightly coloured stalls of glistening fruit and vegetables. But it is for the dazzling array of paratha recipes that customers frequent this bustling lane.
Introducing the Paratha
India has a whole lot of love for its flatbreads. From thin chapattis to thick naans, these versatile breads make wonderful accompaniments to all manner of curries, soups and stews, and parathas are one of the most popular variations in the country. They are a breakfast staple and are often enjoyed as a filling, wholesome snack, either alone or rolled up and dunked into tea.
The steamy heat of paratha lane comes from the traditional method of creating parathas; hot tavas are used to pan fry rolled out layers of whole wheat dough, each brushed lightly with ghee. The technique of layering paratha dough can be a tricky one – the vendors of paratha lane have their work cut out for them but, fortunately, are experts in their trade.
Variations of the Paratha
On paratha lane, you can choose from an almost dizzying assortment of fillings but, as the owners of the shops are likely to be Brahmins, the fare is exclusively vegetarian. However, going vegetarian in India certainly does not equate to a lack of variety.
Spiced potato or chickpeas make excellent fillings for a paratha, particularly when mixed with other vegetables – peas and cauliflower are popular choices. Cashew or almond parathas provide an interesting mix of textures whilst the creamy paneer parathas work well with spicy, green chillies.
Those with a sweet tooth will also find the paratha of their dreams in this little lane – in a similar fashion to crepes, parathas mix just as well with sweeter, sugary flavours as with savoury. Lemon and banana is a popular combination, or a simple meetha paratha stuffed with sugar will satisfy any sweet cravings.
Bit on the Side
Sides that work particularly well with parathas are sweet tamarind chutney, mint chutney and coconut chutney whilst the full range of Indian pickles are also guaranteed to go down a treat. Often parathas are served as a side in their own right, supporting the starring dish of a chunky potato or pumpkin curry.
Of course, all this paratha eating could work up a thirst and paratha lane has just the beverage to accompany your snack: creamy, spiced lassis are a cool and refreshing choice to wash down all that warm bread. Often these drinks are served in traditional, terracotta cups known as kulhars.
Veeraswamy, one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants, has a constantly evolving menu that can always be relied on to offer a range of delicious dishes that work well with traditional, Indian bread – no need to go all the way to paratha lane in order to get your flatbread fix.