Monday, May 20, 2019 | Last Update : 10:42 AM IST

The Fast & Feast

THE ASIAN AGE. | AYUSHI JAGYA
Published : May 18, 2019, 12:00 am IST
Updated : May 18, 2019, 6:55 am IST

Hundreds gather at the vast courtyards of this 360 year-old mosque that also happens to be the biggest one in India, to break their fast.

During Ramzan, dozens of  temporary food  vendors set up shop along the alley to cater to the huge demand
 During Ramzan, dozens of temporary food vendors set up shop along the alley to cater to the huge demand

The holy month of Ramzan brings in a new life to the Old Delhi’s walled city. People across religion assemble here to celebrate iftar, a feast after the day-long fast.

The walled city or Delhi, around Jama Masjid, is all decked up for the holy month of Ramzan, which began on May 6 and is expected to conclude with Eid-ul-Fitr on June 5.

Hundreds gather at the vast courtyards of this 360 year-old mosque that also happens to be the biggest one in India, to break their fast.

As we strolled around, we could hear the evening prayers at the Jama Masjid. In fact, during the namaz, where every soul prays in unison, is a mermerising sight indeed.

In the courtyard, people sit in long queue on dastarkhwan (table cloths) and are served fruits, snacks, dates, juice and sweets. Visitors coming here make contributions for the food served at iftar. Many volunteer to serve the food.

As the prayers conclude, a swarm of people come out clad in Taqiyah (white customary skull cap), men and boys in white kurta pyjama along with family assemble to eat and shop for Eid. It often reminds one of “Idgaah” written by eminent writer Munshi Premchand.

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According to Jalil-ul-Qadar, “Ramzan is a month of renunciation, piety and clarity. Fasting during this season not just purifies the soul, but cleanses the body of toxins too, which has been scientifically proven.”

The streets here come alive during evenings, after the fast or roza, with tantalising aroma of delicacies. It’s nothing less than a food festival.

Vendors can be seen selling dates, sewiyan, roths, meethi double roti. Exceptionally famous for its mughlai food, the Jama Masjid road wears a completely different colour during Ramzan. People from far and wide come here for this spectacle. It is that part of the Capital where people from all religion gather to feast during iftar.

You are welcomed with lip-smacking delicious food at every corner. The evening meal is the most important part of the day.

“It starts early in the morning when we eat our sehri, read our namaz before the dawn and commence our fast,” explains Shiba and local from the area.  

Delicious aroma wafts through the air. From biryani to gosht (meat) to kebabs you can find every delicacy here.

As you amble down the area, sight of stalls selling pathar ka murgh, seviyah, faluda, firni and kebabs entice you.

For a foodie seeking excellent Iftar food Matia Mahal, a narrow and crowded alley that leads off the mosque’s perimeter, is the place to be. Home to to several restaurants, this area is popular throughout the year.

Among them are Karim’s, Al Jawahar, Al Qureshi which serve amazing kebabs, spicy mutton curries and fresh-baked bread.

The sheermal — a saffron-flecked, mildly sweet bread from Kashmir — is very popular here.

During Ramzan, dozens of temporary food vendors set up shop along the length of the alley to cater to the huge demand from famished people breaking their fast.

Outside many of the bakeries, the poor gather for meals. Bakery workers are seen distributing sheaves of bread.

Possibly the most popular dish in this area is the nihari, a stew that was first created in this area in the 18th century. Containing tender chunks of meat, the stew is simmered for hours before it is served.

Hidris, another local, says, “I love the nihari, kebab and biryani after my fast.”

He strongly recommends the butter chicken of Aslam restaurant and says it has a different and a unique taste.

Al Jawahar, dating back to 1948, serves delicious shami kebabs. Acoording to Muhammad Salim supervisor of Al jawahar, people come from far and wide come to watch the celebrations. “Sweets like shahi tukda, kheer, seviyan are hot favourites. This shop was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1948,” he recalls..

One can sovour the the sutli kebabs at Lalu’s or Qureshi’s, golden fried chicken and keema golis (minced meat rounds served with onions) at Haji Mohammad Hussain’s Aslam Chicken Corner. No one can beat these delicacies.

Karim’s legendary mutton stew, nihari, burra kebabs and lamb paya, eaten with fluffy khamiri or tandoori rotis have no comparison. Others like Anwar Food Corner’s malai tikka, Anmol’s butter chicken, Qimami’s seviyan are a must have.

Tags: ramzan, jama masjid