Nalli Nihari, Delhi Street Food: Nikhil Paralikar's Best Meals
Image Credit: By Special Arrangement.

“FOOD has this unique ability to create lasting memories and evoke emotions. Among the countless dishes I have enjoyed throughout my life, one that stands out as the most memorable is a butter chicken that the head chef of my café made for me.

It had the perfect harmony of aromatic spices, the smoothness of butter with the subtle sweetness of tomatoes. Its delectable flavours, rich texture, and captivating aroma made it a meal that I will forever cherish. It was a symphony of flavours and an exploration of culinary artistry. Every element of this meal was orchestrated to create an unforgettable experience.

As I travel a lot for my shows, one of the most fulfilling aspects of (it) is the opportunity to explore and savour local cuisines — I never miss a chance to do so. By trying local food, we connect with the soul of a destination and gain a deeper understanding of its people and traditions. From the spicy curries of India to the hearty stews of Norway, every bite tells a story and paints a vivid picture of the culture.

During one of my performances in Delhi, I got a chance to explore the city’s street food scene.

It was early morning and the streets were just starting to get busy. There was a treasure trove of flavours, aromas, and culinary delights in every gully.  From the crispy parathas, halwa puri, chole kulche to the savoury kachoris and the heart-warming chai, the morning streets of Delhi offer a sensory feast for food enthusiasts

Hot crispy puris with tangy aloo sabzi, finished off with some sweet nagori halwa, was the best savoury- sweet combination for my taste buds. The softest kulchas with spicy chole… so delicious!

Another dish that has captured my heart and taste buds like no other is nalli nihari,  a traditional dish hailing from the Mughlai cuisine. As the dish is being prepared, the air fills with the tantalising fragrance of simmering spices and slow-cooked meat. The sight and smell alone are enough to make my mouth water.

The true essence of nalli nihari lies in its remarkable flavour profile. The carefully cooked lamb shanks possess a texture that is nothing short of divine. The slow cooking process ensures that the meat absorbs all the spices and herbs, resulting in a robust and aromatic gravy. The pièce de résistance is the marrow present within the lamb shanks, which imparts a buttery richness, elevating the dish to new heights of indulgence. The meat is cooked for hours, allowing it to become incredibly tender, practically melting in the mouth. The marrow, when gently scraped out and mixed with the gravy, lends a luscious and silky consistency. Every bite is an amalgamation of flavours and textures that leave an indelible impression on the palate.

Food can bridge gaps and bring people together. These encounters provide opportunities to learn about traditional recipes, cooking techniques, and the stories behind the dishes.

In conclusion, the love for food is a universal language that transcends borders, cultures, and backgrounds. It is a source of comfort, celebration, and connection. Food has the power to evoke memories, stimulate our senses, and bring people together.”

Nikhil Paralikar is a modern fusion artist, singer and performer, known as @thetablaguyy