Mohammad Shan recalls asking his father if they should make their special paneer jalebi all year round. “But he used to say it should be a gift to those who keep rozas,” says Shan, who runs the popular Kallan Sweets in Old Delhi’s Matia Mahal.
This year, though, there is no Ramzan special menu, which also includes the keema samosa, as their shop is shut. “We’ve been getting calls from customers inquiring if we’re making our special dishes or if we can deliver the khajla and pheni, but for that I need five to seven karigars. They all live in Jafrabad and Seelampur and can’t travel, plus it’s not safe,” he says.
The Ramzan treats at Old Delhi’s Jama Masjid area are popular across India, says Akram Qureshi, owner of Al Jawahar and president of Matia Mahal Shopkeepers’ Association. “Par woh raunak toh ab nahi hai… ek khalipan hai,” he says.
“Everyone is praying for the pandemic to end.” This year, the market will not be decorated. “When so many are dying, we can’t be celebrating,” he says. Qureshi has stayed put at his restaurant, a stone’s throw from Jama Masjid, to help police maintain social distancing and guide people to stay indoors.
Most shop owners in the area are home, some for the first time during Ramzan. Haji Imran, who runs a sheermal shop, has also been getting calls for orders. “Usually during Ramzan, we would be at the shop from 10 am till midnight, but this year, we’re spending it at home.”
Meanwhile, Asgher Bakery, a 70-year-old shop known for its biscuits and rusks, is opening for three hours every day. Ameer Sweet House, tucked in the bylanes of Chitli Qabar, has also been opening from 2 to 5 pm. “But we’re only making aloo samosa and pakode this time,” says Haji Ruzaib Hassan, the owner.