Delhi: Jama Masjid area, Mughlai hub, gets a makeover | Latest Delhi News
It’s a cold, foggy evening and a group of young people are sitting under the awning of the Ebony Cafe near Jama Masjid, sipping Americano. Inside, the Parisian-style cafe, opened earlier this year, a couple are seated on a high stool by the bay window that gives a clear view of the 17th-century mosque.
Today, the cafe is one of the walled city’s most popular hangouts for the well-to-do locals as well as young people visiting the walled city of Delhi and the NCR. Owner Saddam Khan, 31, who studied in England, says the European vibe of his cafe is intentional.
“European cafe culture, especially cafes in historic districts, fascinated me a lot. So when I came back [to Delhi], I wanted to open the first European-style cafe near Jama Masjid, with foreign tourists in mind. Locals more than made up for the lack of tourists during the pandemic. Our cafe is a success and we are making a decent profit, ”says Khan.
The Jama Masjid district, known for its hundreds of outlets offering Mughal dishes such as kebabs and Nihari, is undergoing a silent and invisible transformation as a food destination, thanks to many upwardly mobile young people opening new ones. European-style gourmet restaurants and cafes. Their trendy outlets don’t offer traditional nihari or kebabs, but a variety of pastas, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas and waffles, coffee and shakes.
Interestingly, Aarish Khan, 21, who in September launched The Delhiites Café, another bistro-style cafe, in the crowded auto market across from Jama Masjid, says that 70% of his customers are locals, many of whom are old people, who are now addicted. to his Mojito and Italian sodas. “The elderly here have never tasted these drinks before. Now they simply savor them and have become our loyal customers. In our cafe, the elderly and young can be seen enjoying an alcoholic cocktail until late at night, ”says Khan, 21, who studies law at Jamia Millia Islamia.
The point of sale opens after nine in the evening. “This is when the auto market closes and locals hang out with friends and family,” says Khan.
In fact, not only cafes, but several new gourmet restaurants focusing on ambiance, quality of service and cultural events are also emerging in the region. Shahi Mehfil, opened in October, has the look and feel of a large, walled haveli city, its walls sporting information panels and photographs of Jama Masjid and poetry by Ghalib and Iqbal – and the co-founder of the restaurant, Mehtab Raahi. A map of the walled city showing all of its gates is incorporated into the design of the ceiling.
The new addition to the Jama Masjid food court also features small cabins with floor seating, Afghan style. “Visitors here often complain about a lack of comfort, hygiene and quality of services. We wanted to change that, ”says Mehtab Raahi, managing partner of the restaurant, who led heritage walks in the walled city before deciding to open a restaurant.
Raahi, also an aspiring poet, says he wants to turn his restaurant into a cultural hub, starting with Ghalib’s on the anniversary of the poet’s birth on December 27. “I think the time has come for Jama Masjid restaurants to reinvent themselves. Many young people in the walled city who are opening new restaurants and cafes have traveled and educated a lot, and they are realizing it, ”says Raahi.
The region is not only witnessing new restaurants, but many old restaurants are redeveloping or opening their new outlets, with an emphasis on decoration. Aslam Chicken, famous for its chicken tikka all over Delhi, for example, is building its new restaurant in the hip neighborhood.
In addition, Arshad Ali Fehmi, who started the famous The Walled City, a rooftop coffee shop, is now opening another restaurant. “We are opening a new contemporary multi-cuisine restaurant, where you can savor both Mughlai and Mexican dishes in great comfort and convenience,” Fehmi said. “I believe Jama Masjid has great potential to become a center for restaurants and cafes. The government should now clean up and decongest the area like it did with Chandni Chowk.
Abu Sufiyan, who runs Purani Dilli Walo Ki Baatein, a digital platform that promotes the history, culture and cuisine of the walled city, says the redevelopment of Chandni Chowk has changed the perception of local youth in the area. . “It fostered a sense of belonging and pride and opened up new business opportunities related to hospitality and tourism. They believe that cafes have strong social and cultural ties and are also a good business opportunity. At least a dozen new cafes and restaurants are expected to open in the coming months, ”Sufiyan said.
He adds that the new cafes mark a change in the social life of the walled city. “The people of Old Delhi have always loved going out late at night. But unlike in the past where they would sit in front of stores, now they like to meet in cafes and restaurants, which is also fueling the growth of these outlets in the region, ”Sufiyan said.
Rajeev Goyal, chef and founder of the India Food Tourism Organization, a non-profit organization that works to promote food tourism in the country, says there is a need to develop a food tourism ecosystem in the region, where cleanliness and congestion continue to be important. problems. “But yes, all of these new ventures will help the Jama Masjid region realize its enormous potential as a food tourism destination,” he said.