If there is one place on this planet where people love winters, it has to be New Delhi. After a hot and long summer season and hot,humid rainy season, the cold, foggy winters are a treat. Despite the cold, people are out on the streets and it is non-stop party season. This winters we decided as a family to go out every Saturday to one historical monument to showcase our heritage to our 2 boys. What better place to kick off than with the Qutab Minar, the logo of New Delhi and its most popular landmark.
I for one have a lot of childhood memories associated with the place. We stayed for 2 weeks in the tourist guest house situated inside the qutab complex. Everyday my sister and I would go out and roam the complex and play our games there. Of course, there was not too much of a crowd in those days and the security was non-existent. You could touch the monuments and even go inside the Qutab (Now you cannot touch some of the relics like the Iron Pillar and cannot go inside the Qutab). It was nostalgic to be there with my parents, my better half, my sister and her son and my two boys. It was a day long picnic and the tour was followed by a nice lunch in the gardens with the kids playing all around.
Legend has it that Delhi was composed of seven ancient cities (not counting the modernistic New Delhi), namely,
- Quila Rai Pithora (an extension of Lalkot)
Lalkot was constructed by King Anandpal Tomar in the Eleventh Century. The Tomar Rajputs are,incidentally, credited with founding Delhi. Lalkot was more of a defense structure surrounding an area. One of his later successors, Prithviraj Chauhan (also popularly known as Rai Pithora) took over and extended lalkot for his city which he called Quila Rai Pithora (literally meaning the Fort of Rai Pithora).
Muhammad Ghori after various unsuccessful attempts succeeding in capturing Quila Rai Pithora in 1192 AD. He returned back to Ghazni (in present day Afghanistan) and placed Qutab-Ud-Din Aibak as his Viceroy in Delhi.After Ghori's death he enthroned himself as the Sultan of Delhi and thus started the Slave dynasty (He started as a slave purchased by the Ghori dynasty who rose through the ranks).In his short rule (he died playing polo in Lahore), Aibak started the construction of Mehrauli by demolishing all Hindu Temples and establishing Islamic structures in their place. He started the construction of the Qutab Minar as his Tower of Victory, but died after constructing the first storey. His son-in-law Iltutmish completed the 2nd, 3rd and 4th storey. After damage by Lightning, it's 4th storey was dismantled and reconstructed by Firoz Tughlaq. He also added a 5th storey to the structure. Later on restorations were also done by Sikandar Lodi.
Picnic food in India can be tricky. We could see some families around, complete with their pressure cooker and casseroles with tasty gravies around. There were also some with sandwiches and burgers around. I have always been somewhere in between, Picnic on a cold wintery afternoon (it was the coldest day in New Delhi in 6 years) for me means having a nice chaat,some bread pakoras or samosas, ending with some warm carrot halwa. There should be hot tea for company throughout the meal and a leisurely walk to digest the food later. For the chaat we decided to have a twist by making a Corn Chaat instead. It was really quick to make and stays well during tavel. You have an option of either mixing the Tamarind (Imli) chutney during the making of the chaat or give it alongside as an accompanying dip. I have tried both and found both working fine taste wise.
Makes 4 Portions
American Corn - 3 Cups
Onion(large), finely chopped - 1
Tomato (Large), Chopped - 1
Coriander, finely chopped - 1/2 Cup
Green Chillies, finely chopped - 2
Peanuts - 1/2 Cup
Red Chili Powder - 1 Tsp
Black Pepper Powder - 1 Tsp
Anardana - 1/2 Tsp
Amchoor Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Black Salt - 1 Tsp
Tamarind Chutney - 1 Tsp
Mint Chutney - 1 Tsp
Lemon Juice - 1/2 Tsp
Cumin Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Coriander Powder - 1/4 Tsp
Cloves, powdered - 2
Potato Chips, crushed - 1/2 Cup
Potato, cubed - 1 (Optional)
Coriander - For Garnish
1. Steam the corn till soft and done. (Believe me, I have tried boiling it and it just doesn't taste right. Steaming does take a little longer but worth every single minute spent.)
2. Roast the peanuts till they begin to change color. About a minute on high flame.
3. Add all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. NOTE: You have the option of either adding the Tamarind and Mint Chutneys straight away or serving them on the side with the chaat.
4. Serve in individual plates or bowls.