In the early years of his career, Dinesh (seen on the right in the photo above) sold calculators in Chawri Bazaar; quality checked garments in a Faridabad factory and cleared tables as a busboy in an Upper Eastside bar in New York. He believes that these jobs were as good an education, if not better in some ways, than the Economics degree he got from Delhi University. This rather chequered career path was due to his teenage belief that if he followed in his photographer father's footsteps he would be yet another victim of the Indian caste system. This rebellion further led him to a 12 year long career in Advertising where he finally achieved burn-out at the ripe old age of 33 years and the realization that he really just wanted to take pictures. So in 1990 he finally succumbed to what can probably be blamed on genetic coding - the desire to make images - both as a means of making a living and as a form of creative expression. The last 26 years have seen him involved in creating images for Advertising, Editorial and Corporate clients, specifically in the area of Food, Still-life, People and Interiors. Dinesh’s personal work has been shown in both solo and group exhibitions across the world. (Photo credit: Mahi Khanna) ///// Moazam "Moz" Rauf is the staff photographer for Papercuts magazine. He is a teacher, a writer and a photographer based in Lahore. His photography can be found on his official Facebook page: Moz Rauf's Photography.
Photo Essay: Street Food – Lahore and Dilli
A boti kebab doesn’t care much for nationality, does it? A naan doesn’t check passports, while jalebis couldn’t care less about LOCs. And unless you’re one of those forever-on-detox-diets human beings – in which case, leave now! – chances are you wouldn’t be able to claim undying allegiance to any grand notions in the midst of devouring a succulent piece of raan, or crunching on the crispiest, spiciest gol gappas, or licking your lips in anticipation of that kulhad-full of rabri, or some garma-garam halwa. No, you wouldn’t even care, because this is appetite as it was meant to be, appetite as we all understand it.
Appetite to be eaten up whole. Boiled-down-to-its-essence Appetite.
Taking off from this idea, two photographers – Moazam Rauf from Pakistan and Dinesh Khanna from India – decided to take to the city streets, armed with cameras and yes, appetite. Which is where they encountered the truism like no other: Be it the Walled City in Lahore or the kuchas of Purani Dilli, we define a mouthful of heaven in pretty much the same ways. Paratha rolls in Liberty Market, Lahore; garam chai in Varanasi; Jalebis at Ichhra, Lahore; rabri at Nizamuddin in Delhi; Haleem at Wahdat road and imartis in Jodhpur – they all answer to and satiate Appetite.
Sarhad ke is paar ya us paar.
Follow them along through this mouth-watering photo-essay, especially curated for Papercuts Vol. 17 Appetite.
The origin of jalebis, an absolute favourite in both Lahore and Delhi, is highly contested: According to the Oxford Companion, it is listed in Al Baghdadi’s cookery book published in 13th century and was brought to South Asia in 14th or 15th century by merchants and traders, while few others have proposed that it was brought to South Asia in 16th century. While some at Ghantewala in Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi, makers of mean jalebis since 1790, claimed it as their own! Ghantewala shut shop in 2015, citing the impossibility to survive in the fierce commercial atmosphere of the market as the prime reason. There is a Haldiram’s bang opposite that also serves jalebis.
Samosas, like their compatriots jalebis, are said to have originated in the Middle East as well. Another trait they have in common is that they are both purchased together during the monsoons and Ramadan.
The hot summers of India and Pakistan find vendors selling several refreshing drinks on the street. One of these is lassi – it first originated in Punjab during the 18th century and soon spread up north as the archetypal drink of the summers.
The Gawalmandi market in Lahore, which sells pairay wali lassi and kundey wala dahi, among others, was set up mostly by Partition survivors.
Arguably, the pioneers of ‘on-the-go’ takeaway food, most stalls whipping up street food have, at times, a few rickety tables and chairs strewn about, but nothing permanent. And yet it’s a hub with more than a dozen individuals standing about, chatting and exchanging gossip on politics, economy, movies and whatever else that intrigues them.
Pakistani cuisine has benefited from its interactions with other countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and Middle Eastern countries, while immigrants from India have enriched its cuisine as well. Kutluma (image on the right) and Takatak/Kat-a-Kat (image on the left) are such examples. The origins of Kutluma can be traced to Central Asia that probably came to the Indian Subcontinent through Afghanistan. This dish, commonly referred to as Pakistani pizza is popular in Gawalmandi, as is Takatak/Kat-a-Kat, previously known as tawa gurda kapoora, which probably came in from the Middle East.
Gawalmandi Food Street and Fort Road Food Street in Lahore have been instrumental not only in the assimilation of these cuisines, but have also been successful in creating an appetite among the masses for these dishes. Fort Road Food Street was inaugurated in 2012 by Punjab Government and is located inside the ‘Taxali gate’ walled city of Lahore, near Badshahi Mosque, Lahore Fort and Hazuri Bagh. This street is renowned for not only its food but for its surreal environment as well. From the top of Cuckoo’s Den, a famous restaurant in Fort Road Food Street, you can view the Badshahi Mosque next to Lahore Fort, both glowing in the night like crown jewels, representing a bygone era that has taken a form of fragmented memory, which chases and haunts you like a ghost yet at the same time leaves you mesmerized. In the background of this marvellous view, you can hear drum beats coming from a saint’s shrine especially on Thursdays.
We like our bread and some of the most popular types include: chapati/roti, phulka, paratha, puri, bhatura, khameeri, Nan, tandoori roti, barqi paratha, missi roti, kulcha, sheermal, makki ki roti, keema-wala Nan, aloo-wala Nan, and taftan. Paranthewali gali in Chandni Chowk in Purani Dilli and Paratha Roll Market in Liberty, Lahore are the go-to places. The khurchan roti, an OTT sweet bread if there ever was one!, is a must-have at Paranthewale gali.
A significant percentage of the population in both Pakistan and India eats breakfast, lunch and dinner on the streets due to its affordability and convenience. The numbers for street-food vendors in Delhi alone are estimated at 300,000. Nihari and Haleem are popular breakfast dishes, and a favoured quick snack is channa chaat, which allegedly became the rage in the 14th century when it was recommended to the king for his health by the physician.
While Gawalmandi was officially inaugurated in 2001, it had always been a renowned place for its street food. The street was closed down in 2011 due to political reasons by the Punjab Government, but was then reopened in 2013 by Najam Sethi (Caretaker Chief Minister).