Food in Old Delhi: Ramzan

April 11, 2019

man selling dried fruits and nuts in Old Delhi India during ramzan

During Ramzan, the food in Old Delhi is celebrated and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Food is on display everywhere you look. The ambiance is something quite extraordinary. The experience of it surreal. Imagine walking down a crowded street, streamers hanging overhead, filled with people rushing about, the smell of food wafting through the air and vendors calling out to you to try their food. It is unlike anything you will ever come across. Everything about this experience will hit your senses; sight, sound and smell. It's just amazing. I've lived in this country for 10 years now, and I have not seen anything like this anywhere else.

In the month long fasting period before ramzan, a part of Old Delhi comes alive. Opposite the Jama Masjid, along the lanes of the Bazar Matia Mahal, an entire street is lit up and food is put on show. Every evening, people head out, braving the heat and pollution, just to eat.

You'll find that the street across Jama Masjid in Old Delhi will be filled with people and shops selling all kinds of food. Some shops like Qureshi and Karim's have been around forever. Others are temporarily set up for the Ramazan period. You'll also find that Jama Masjid will be lit up during this month. On a good day without any haze, you'll get some pretty views of the place.

street food stalls with people opposite Jama Masjid Old Delhi in India
Street food during Ramzan in Old Delhi
Besides food, you'll get to see and experience other things like watching a paan seller preparing paan for his customers. You'll also come across people setting up make shift stalls to sell food. The picture below shows how Roomali Roti (handkerchief like thin roti) is made. It is generally used to make rolls.

person making roomali roti over hot fire in Old Delhi opposite Jama Masjid India
Making roomali roti

Karim's Old Delhi

 People at Karims Karim's mughlai food Jama Masjid in old delhi India during ramzan
Karim's in Old Delhi
Karim's has been around for a long time, since 1913 and their food hasn't quite changed over the years. It's history talks about the founder being the son of a cook who worked as a cook for the Mughal Emperor. Karim's is known for its kebabs and rolls. Karim's is definitely worth a visit when you're in Old Delhi. You'll find that they get pretty crowded during the Ramzan period. We did have to wait for about 15 minutes for our table but the crowd is usually pretty fast moving here.

Things to order when you are eating here are; Chicken Jehanghir, Sheermaal roti with chicken korma and the kebabs are items you should try while visiting this restaurant. If you're into offal, they make a pretty mean brain curry.


Al-Jawahar, another popular restaurant, has been around since the 1940s. They are known for their mutton korma. Worth a visit when you're in the area. My personal preference is that Karim's is still far tastier than Al-Jawahar especially so when you compare their dishes to one another. 

Qureshi Kebab

People ordering kebabs kabab at Qureshi Kabab Corner across Jama Masjid in Old Delhi India
Qureshi Kabab Corner across Jama Masjid
Qureshi Kebab Corner has some pretty amazing kebabs. You'll also find a huge crowd in front of their shop all the time. They are a family run business with recipes that have been handed down generations. They are also known for preparing and cooking their kebabs from scratch, even down to grinding their own spices for their kebabs. You can't leave Jama Masjid area of Old Delhi without popping in to get a few kebabs into your belly.

Sweets to end the night....

Indian sweets desert like badam milk and shahi tukda in Old Delhi India
Indian Sweets for desert
To end the food experience in Old Delhi, sweets are a necessity. My personal favourite, Badam Milk (Almond Milk), is a concoction of almonds, saffron and sweet milk. It's just the way I like to end a night of over indulgence of food.

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