Flavours of Nizamuddin

The second edition of Apni Basti Mela is bigger and more varied.

Chicken samosas and shahi tukdas, calligraphy and aari work, qawwali performances and heritage walks — the three-day Apni Basti Mela at the DDA Park in the Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti is a blend of colours and culture. Organised by the Aga Khan Foundation in collaboration with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the second edition of the fair, which started on November 29, is bigger and better. Ratish Nanda, project director at the Aga Khan Trust, says, "Last year, it was a small local event with just five stalls. Since it was much appreciated, we decided to do it on a larger scale. There are about 40 stalls this time."

Showcasing local arts, artefacts and food, the event has been planned in such a way that no visitor misses out on any of the stalls. Be it the diaries and lampshades made using paper cut work (called sanji), or the traditional miswak, everything that is on display bears a close association to the 700-year-old heritage of the area. Hafiz Mohammad, who has put up the calligraphy stall, says, "This kind of writing is being done here for ages."

Then there are stalls where the process of restoration of heritage buildings, such as the Humayun's Tomb and the Nila Gumbad, including the efforts that local people have made in the direction, is explained. "Building appreciation towards your heritage is essential," says Archana, an arts designer who works with the trust.

Aromas guide visitors towards the food stalls, where fresh chicken samosas and puri bhaji is being prepared on huge tawas. Some of the favourite items from the "Nizamuddin cuisine" include mutton and beef biryanis, chicken korma, sheer mal and shahi tukda. There are cooking classes on the side, where visitors are taught how to prepare these recipes.

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