City Food – Best Rusk, Diamond Bakery
The best tea-time dip.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Just about any Old Delhi resident will pronounce the same verdict. The very best rusk, or ‘paapey’ as it is popularly known, have always been created at the family-owned Diamond Bakery and nowhere else.
More than 100 years old, the popular bakery was founded the year World War 1 started. It sticks to old-fashioned techniques for producing rusk that are unmatched for crispness.
Tucked midway on the main avenue connecting the Jama Masjid to Tiraha Behram Khan, Diamond doesn’t use ovens at all, unlike other bakeries area.
Instead it sticks to the traditional wood-fired bhatti with a furnace so large that 30 trays can be inserted at any given time. The finished product is so vulnerable that crispness disappears the moment the rusk is dipped in a glass of thick milky chai.
In its dimly lit kitchen the lungi-clad ‘kaarigars’ kneading the dough look like figures from 17th century Dutch paintings. Almost all these employees hail from Etawah in UP. They say they sleep in the shop at night.
While waiting for your rusks, you might chance a conversation with Kallu Mamu, a longtime staffer who loves lurching into witty arguments.
The Walled City has many good bakeries producing perfectly good rusks — Sikander Bakery in Kucha Faulad Khan is strongly recommended. But the consensus is this: If you want to treat your guests to a bite of tradition, you’ll saunter over to Diamond.
It’s open every day of the year (barring the month of Ramzan when opening times are different), from 5am to 10pm.
Historic and crispy