For the second time in as many years has Crowne Plaza Today in Okhla held a festival showcasing the delights of Old Delhi. It so happens that the postal address of Chandni Chowk and Jama Masjid is Delhi 6, so the festival has been named Dilli 6. It has struck such a chord with Delhiites that both the first one as well as the second were a sell-out. The reason is not far to seek. Usually hotel food promotions don’t go further in setting the stage than new table-cloths and the food is invariably prepared in the hotel kitchen, but Dilli 6 has actually reproduced a street scene in the tangled snarl of Old Delhi, complete with pigeons perched on electric wires. Many if not most of the staff manning the various stalls are from tiny street-side stalls in Chandni Chowk’s lanes. They sell specialities that they – and their ancestors – have been making for generations together. Some of the food is prepared in the hotel’s own kitchen, but that is just a fraction. What is fascinating to see is how the stall-owners and the hotel staff try and get into each other’s roles, so the mithai shop owner displays a poker-faced self-consciousness while the waiter in the hotel throws himself into the role of a chai-wallah!
The hottest selling items are, expectedly, those that you cannot get for love or money in New Delhi: bedmi aloo with pumpkin sabzi, besan chila, kanji vada, mattra kulcha, a welter of pakodas, Noor Mohammad ka tawa, Hafeezul Kebab Wala and biryani and tak-a-tak galore.
So path-breaking has been the festival that the hotel has initiated steps to patent the name and concept.