Old Delhi. What it immediately brings to mind is fresh vegetable paranthas deep-fried in ghee. Biriyani. Kebabs. Whoa!! But getting there to feast on the delicacies requires a degree in chaos management, navigating rickshaws, pedestrians, horse-drawn carts and bicycles. Rickshaws and animals dart out at you from all sides and it's vital to zig zag, always alert to jump to one side at the blast of a horn or the 'growl' of an irate dog! But we have always been doing it to feast on the flavours that await… Salivating at the imagery the thought evoked, I was eagerly awaiting for luncheon from restaurateur Shazia Bukhari's 'Sheikh Shackk' which promised to deliver authentic Old Delhi home-made delicacies at our doorstep.
I was not disappointed. Shazia Bukhari, wife of Naib Shahi Imaam Shaban Bukhari, has been curating 'dawats' for friends and family for years. Armed with priceless knowledge of authentic old school dishes and heirloom recipes, she launched 'Sheikh Shackk’ with an all-women khansama staff handpicked by local households of Old Delhi and trained in whipping up authentic muslim culinary gems. Luncheon arrived piping hot in clay pots and began with aloo tikki chaat and chicken shammi kebab. Shazia's desire to bring the authentic taste of Purani Dilli to our table was achieved with the first bite. We relished each bite of Old Delhi streetfood, the fiery flavourful aloo tikki, followed by slow-cooked shammi kebabs seasoned with the finest spices. It was the perfect prelude to the feast that followed — a huge serving of the most sumptuous chicken biriyani. The succulent chicken between layers of fragrant rice, cooked over coals, was magnificent. We were in culinary heaven!! Stuffed to the brim, we ended the meal on a sweet note with individual clay pots of Phirni mopped up with Iranian delicacy, Sheermal. PS We didn't have it! Rather it HAD us under its spell!
Reminiscing back to our luncheon, it is easy to get caught up in the ambience created by a hard-working team's dream… a dream of taking diners on a culinary tour of Purani Delhi… in the comfort of home. Do order in from Sheikh Shackk… you will love the rich cuisine that can otherwise only be found in labyrinth lanes of Old Delhi. Bon Appetite!
— JASMEEN DUGAL