A new sweet house in Old Delhi is showing established traders a thing or two when it comes to making the seriously good sweets. If you love jalebi and gulab jamun, get yourself down to Sultan ji’s where they’re given a magical MP mawa makeover.
Good news. There’s now another reason to get yourself down to the walled city and celebrate the fabulous food of Delhi’s old city, Shahjahanabad.
The arrival of Sultan ji Sweets and Snacks in the walled city in late 2016 is seriously good news for anyone that loves India’s classic sweets.
Renting a tiny shop from an established metal trader, Sultan ji’s frontage is just a few feet wide, but it’s really easy to find. Look out for the crowds that gather on Matia Mahal Rd, Jama Masjid, Bazar Matia Mahal, and you’ll soon find folk munching away on Sultan ji’s magical mawa jalebi and gorgeous jamun. Whenever I stopped by, the crowd is always two or three deep.
So, who is Sultan ji and why are his sweet treats attracting the Old Delhi masses who know more than a thing or two about their marvellous mithaee? The family behind this business may new to Old Delhi, but there is bucket loads of history and tradition behind the taste that comes out of this small, perfectly formed, stall.
Hailing from Burhanpur, Madhya Pradesh, they’re from a city where mawa jalebis and gulab jamun are standard fare. And it’s from this mid-sized town that the rich history of the family’s sweet story begins.
After tasting success in Burhanpur the bright lights of Mumbai came a calling for a few family members who decided to move. The MP mawa jalebi was introduced to Mumbaikers a few years back and it went down a treat. And now, the family have kindly decided to come to Delhi to offer up their fabulous traditional family recipe to Old Delhi’s sweet connoisseurs.
A Karim Khatri, the owner who runs the original stall in Subhash Chowk in Burhanpur, has got to be happy with the response of Dilliwalahs since opening his latest branch in late 2016. But not everyone was convinced to start with.
“When I first saw the Jalebi I thought they were burnt, so I walk on by,” says Irqa Quraishi, who was waiting in line for some warm jalebi when I was at Sultan ji’s the other day. So, why was Iqra back if she thought they were burnt?
Eager to explain to me as she waited for our fresh mawa jalebi, Iqra says she has her friend to thank.
“She told me it’s the mawa that makes the jalebi and jamun change to a dark brown colour, and that I should come back and try them.” Iqra has been coming back regularly ever since that first visit. “We are not used to these types of sweets round here. It’s new to us,” she adds.
Once the jalebi turns dark brown on one side they’re quickly flipped over so the other side gets the same treatment. Then, when both sides are browned, the jolly jalebi are placed in the sweetest of sugar syrup to cool down and suck up some sweetness.
I’m told by Iqra that it’s the mawa gives it a treacle type taste, but I reckon there may be something in the syrup too that does this. But I wasn’t getting my hands on this family recipe. It’s our recipe is what I was told with a smile by the sweet makers. If I was Sultan ji, I’d be keeping it a secret too.
The jalebi are thicker and tighter than a standard Delhi jalebi. This makes them juicy and much more delicious. I opted for a plate (30INR ), but my portion of jalebi looked poor next to Iqra’s. She’d gone for a 1kg which was being boxed up. “Not all for me! For the family”. I didn’t know whether to believe her or not.
As I was having a couple of Jamun too, my personal sweet intake wasn’t too embarrassing when compared to Iqra. And I, like Iqra, will be back to visit Sultan ji again, and again and again.
And there’s even more good news. Sultan ji is located next door to perhaps the best chicken fryer in the city, Haji Mohd Hussain. This has to be the perfect place for dinner and dessert in Old Delhi.
If you are wondering what the gulab jamun is like, it’s like god’s gift. Get on down to the walled city. You’ll be happy. Very happy.
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