City Food – Chankaya’s Momos, Central Delhi
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Generations of Delhi people grew up with the magic experience of the old Chanakya movie theatre. If you were very lucky you just could even manage to obtain a front-stall ticket for 10 rupees.
Those halcyon single-screen days of subsidised tickets are long gone, while the beloved theatre in central Delhi that came up in 1970 was demolished in 2007. Ten years later, a sleek multiplex was built where an earlier tradition still survives: You can still eat those delicious momos at one of the adjacent eateries. These stalls look shabby but their momos are marvellous. Try the steamed dumplings at China Town, one of the oldest shacks, founded in 1986.
The vegetable momos are crammed with cabbage and carrots. The red chili sauce is so biting that your nose may water, making the meal an exotic culinary adventure.
Otherwise, the open-air plaza outside the new Chanakya theatre is rather lifeless, at least this weekday afternoon. But the plaza itself has certainly improved with paved floors, benches and round tables. In many ways, this is a superior more consumerfriendly Chanakya complex, but not quite the same, even though the momos remain delectable.
You’ve also got a far better chance of a seat in the new theatre; the earlier one was often sold out even before you got to the box office (thank you, black tickets!). But those luscious momos are managing to survive, still tasting of the old Chanakya.
Tasting lost time