Paharganj: The craziest street in the world

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By Aniruddh Ghosal

Paharganj, with its tangled up lanes, has become famous for cheap hotels that many tourists use while staying in Delhi. However, if one was to untangle these lanes and explore what are probably the craziest streets in the world, one would realize what a treasure trove this place is. Life threatening rickshaws driven by maniacal drivers will appear out of nowhere while salesmen will pounce upon you from all directions. Cows will eye you with unnerving intensity while dogs will materialize out of what had earlier seemed like an oddly shaped puddle. Blank eyed and smooth talking- drug dealers and pimps will come up to you and ask you if you are interested in their wares. And while your brain is still trying to catch up with all the frenzied excitement around you, you might just find yourselves in one of the many shops in Paharganj that make the place such a delight for the gastronomically inclined.

Everest Café:
Inside the main market, it is located in a small lane, opposite a surprisingly cheerful Reebok outlet. A small cosy shop, this place can hold a maximum of fifteen people. Dimly lit and eccentrically decorated with elaborate Tibetan artwork this place claims to serve almost everything including Thai cuisine. However we would strongly recommend sticking to continental cuisine and the bakery. A humongous slice of chocolate cake for Rs 35 is actually reason enough to trek up to Everest Café.

The Metropolis:
Metropolis, claimed to be 78-years-old is one of the many continental restaurants in Paharganj. However, what truly separates it from its contemporaries is the eclectic array of food that they offer. From Greek, French, Italian and even Israeli, they have it all. But as is with most places in Paharganj, one has to be very careful with what they order. Chicken a la Kiev is a breaded boneless chicken stuffed delightfully with butter. It is probably the most scrumptious thing on the menu and is a must for anybody who goes to Paharganj.

Sam’s Café:
Located inside a rather shady hotel, it’s one of the most popular destinations in Paharganj. The roof top restaurant is strongly recommended as it offers a beautiful view of Paharganj. A favourite haunt of Italian tourists, Sam’s café offers you one of the best pastas in Delhi.

Ajay Café German Bakery:
This shop, armed with a pool table and an eloquent salesman who will try and sell you handicrafts will probably not fit into your mental image of a bakery. They offer a wide variety of baked products including bagels, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, croissants etc. But what truly set them apart are their delicious cakes. The cheese cake and the honey-raisin cake are an absolute must.

Hare Ram Café:
Don’t be disheartened by the name of this shop. You are likely to find pita bread, falafel and Israeli salad here as opposed to oily Paalak Paneers. This shop is famous for its Israeli cuisine and Israelis who come to Delhi are often surprised to find the food from their country here. Originally these shops gave free food and accommodation to Israeli tourists in exchange for lessons in cooking Israeli food. Today even the most discerning foodies find it hard to believe that the food has been cooked by an Indian. This place is famous for their Matbucha; a salad mainly made from tomatoes, roasted pepper, oil and garlic cooked together, and their kebabs. A dip called the hummus is also worth trying.
The easiest way to go to Paharganj is to take an auto to the railway station. The entrance to the main market is right opposite the “In� gate of the railway station. All the shops are located on the main streets and one can reach there by asking shopkeepers for directions. Stay wary of pickpockets and more importantly, go with an empty stomach.

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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