I have been living in Delhi
for the last 20 years and I have been to Chandni Chowk many times but never visited ‘Gali Paranthe Walee’. So, last week I went to Chandni Chowk for my article alongwith my sister. In a small ‘pedestrian’ street, we came across a place where a cook was making ‘paranthas’ in a very congested place; we stepped in, were the centre of attraction of the place for a few seconds, then sat down on a plastic chair, looked at what people were eating and by gestures asked for paranthas and sabzi. The paranthas were delicious. The surroundings were exotic too. After leaving the shop, I found two or three more shops selling paranthas.
My sister told me that this ‘gali’ is known as ‘gali paranthe walee’ in Chandni Chowk. Chandni Chowk is the oldest and busiest market of Delhi. It was built around 300 years ago when the walled city of Shahjahanabad was established in the 17th century. It is also known as Chandni Chowk (Moonlight Square) because there was an octagonal pool in this part of the street where the water of the pool reflected the moonlight and flowed into the canal that ran through the whole street.
Chandni Chowk is famous for its eating joints, from where you get a variety of street food. Here you can get the insipid pizzas and cheeseburger; gol-gappas, aloo-tikki, dahi gujiya, papri chaat, jalebi and paranthas. The Ghantewala Halwai, Natraj’s Dahi Bhalle, Chaatwala, Gianiji ka falooda, Jalebi wala etc and off-course the ‘Gali Paranthe Walee’, where you get yummy paranthas.
Earlier, ‘Gali Paranthe Walee’ was known as ‘Dariba Khurd’. In 1910, it was named ‘Gali Paranthe Walee’. ‘Gali Paranthe Walee’ is around 140-150 years old. At that time there were 15-16 shops and all owners belonged to the same family. But slowly this chain broke because the new generation did not want to take up making ‘paranthas’ as their profession. At present, there are only three shops left.
Prasad Shivcharan Paranthewale was the founder of his shop, which was established in 1872. Now the sixth generation, Manish Sharma, runs the shop. They got the HT City Award in 2007.
Pt Kanhaiya Lal Durga Prasad Dixit Paranthewale founded the shop in 1875 and at present his fifth generation, Abhishek Dixit, manages the shop.
Pt Babu Ram Devi Dayal Paranthewale found his shop in 1889 and his fourth generation representative, a woman, Anjalis manage the shop.
There are different varieties and prices of ‘paranthas’. Paranthas are filled with different ingredients. Rahul Gupta, a customer has been coming here regularly for the last 20 years. He says, “The ‘paranthas’ are delicious and their specialty is that they make ‘paranthas’ without onion.”
Earlier, only four types of ‘paranthas’ were available. These were plain ‘parantha’, ‘besan parantha’, ‘methi parantha’, and ‘dal parantha’. But now, you get 30-40 varieties of ‘paranthas’. ‘Khurchan parantha’, ‘rabri parantha’, ‘kela (banana) parantha’, ‘nimbu (lemon) parantha’, ‘tamatar parantha’, ‘aloo parantha’, ‘kishmish parantha’, ‘pudina parantha’….etc and many more.
The minimum price of a ‘parantha’ is Rs 15 and maximum is Rs 35. Earlier, a single ‘parantha’ would cost just one paisa. In an order of one plate they serve you three vegetables, two sauces and pickle. And there is a compulsion that in one plate you must buy two ‘paranthas’. They prepare ‘paranthas’ in pure desi ghee (butter).
Their daily customers average is around 300 to 400. Many customers come regularly. Sunil Khanna who comes regularly says, “The combination of ‘paranthas’ and vegetables is excellent”. He mostly eats their ‘aloo parantha’ and in the winter season he likes to eat ‘mooli (radish) paranthas’.
The glorious times seen by this street is reflected in the quality of their products and the ‘Gali’s glory continues.