Friday, May 21, 2010

City Food - Fenn, Matia Mahal

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Portrait

Delhi's most democratic bread.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

At night, people in Old Delhi eat heavy dishes such as kebabs and biryanis. In the morning, they have the equally heavy paya and nihari. Between waking up and breakfast, they also have sweet milky tea and fenn; the stacks on the bread counters creating a perfect backdrop to the morning scene of children going to school, or beggars sleeping on the pavements.

Flaky and crisp, fenn is one of Delhi’s most democratic bakery products. Priced at Re 1 each, it is a teatime companion for the homeless as well as the wealthy. The rickshaw-wallas mull over the pointlessness of the new day by soaking fenn in their tea. The newspaper readers do the same while pouring over the state of the world.

Not bigger than your palm, fenn’s crumbly facade is streaked with shades of brown. Made of maida flour, it is so flaky that when you take it in your hand, slivers of its skin peel off the surface. Some stay, some fall down.

On its own, fenn is very dry and it snaps in the mouth making crunchy sounds. Light and with no distinct flavour, it is deliciously addictive. In the arguments over how this city (or this country) is going to the dogs, it is easy to lose the count of fenns you have eaten. Many find it an ideal complement to tea. The classic way is to dip fenn in the tea glass and raise it to your lips. When your mouth feels the outer moistness of the morsel melting into its inner crustiness, the moment is exquisite. Now take a sip of the tea. The warm liquid rushes in along with the few crumbs that the fenn had left behind. This too is joy.

Where Fenn is sold in every roadside tea stall in Delhi Price for one fenn Re 1

Pick one

City Food - Fenn, Matia Mahal

Flaky and crisp

City Food - Fenn, Matia Mahal

Fenn-powered

City Food - Fenn, Matia Mahal

Stacked against the glass counter

City Food - Fenn, Matia Mahal

Street View

City Food - Fenn, Matia Mahal

Another view

City Food - Fenn, Matia Mahal

Dip dip dip

City Food - Fenn, Matia Mahal

Good day, kaka

City Food - Fenn, Matia Mahal

6 comments:

zeevie said...

hahahahahahah you are tooo much yaaar:D.now write about RUSK also:D

Anonymous said...

@zeevie
hahahah rusk!!
n i e parle g or maybe tiger
hahaha

Anonymous said...

*e
love

Vishal said...

Dost you are something, describing humble Fenn and tea as if one is drinking a Single Malt Premium Whiskey............ what a connoisseur of Delhi's street food....lage raho.....lol

vipin said...

Dont want to spoil the fun, but still, fenn has horrendous quantities of trans fats, the worst quality vanaspati ghee. Eat at your own risk. Be ware!

Delhi Goon said...

No matter how many times Dad told me not to dip fenn/biscuits/rusk in the warm glow of the tea, as it was considered 'uncool', I wud do it any way. It felt like that was the only way to enjoy the stuff.

Thanks for reminding us that happiness can still be brought for as little as 1 Rupee in this day and age when food inflation is distancing so many items away from us. 50 paise has almost lost relevance.

Yeah and the vanaspati brings back memories too. Appetizing close-ups though.