City Food – Gol Paape, Farash Khana
Indigenous bread from an indigenous bakery.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The hole-in-the-wall bakeries, a characteristic of Delhi’s centuries old Muslim neighborhoods, have survived into the new century. Unlike the air-conditioned pastry shops of, say, Khan Market, that make meringues, tarts, and brown bread, these cramped establishments bake Old Delhi teatime essentials like rusks, fens and gol paapes.
One afternoon The Delhi Walla spent an hour in shop no. 758, a bakery in Farash Khana, a Muslim-dominated neighbourhood near Ajmeri Gate. Circa 1955, the bakery – open from 6 am to midnight – daily churns out 120 kg rusk and 20 kg gol paape (a kind of buns) on the strength of one wood-fired bhatti (oven), five labourers, and 300 baking patris (trays).
The bakery was dark, warm, and sooty with the floor taken over by stacks of tin patris, a sales counter, and an iron tijori (cash locker). On the facing wall, a rectangular slit at the bottom opened into a low-roofed bhatti, the size of a single bed. Two lungi-clad labourers, squatting in front of the bhatti, were baking paapes. A pair of long iron spatulas, called sariya, lay on the floor. One of these men – both were unwilling to share their names – would bring a stack of patris from the loft where two more workers were kneading the dough. The other man, with the help of sariya, was putting the patris – one at a time – inside the bhatti. 20 patris could fit in at one time. Each patri had six paapes. The paape dough was of refined flour mixed with water, yeast, sugar, and aniseed; patties were dusted with khus-khus seeds.
After about ten minutes, as paapes grew light brown, the patris’s positions were changed for uniform heating. Further ten minutes later, the patris were taken out. If eaten straight off the bhatti, gol paape is warm, sweet, soft, chewy, and a little greasy. If eaten later, it would be hard and crisp. Serve with tea.
Where Shop no. 578, next to Shamsahd general Store, Frasah Khana Time 6 am to midnight Price Rs 45 for six paapes Nearest Metro Stop New Delhi railway station
Hot off the Dickens
Putting in paapes
Baking time starts
Only one patri left
Six at a time
The world outside
Three paapes please
Serve with tea