Have you ever wondered why the parathas of murthal are so popular and why do people love going there anytime, even at midnight after finishing their work?. Approximately 60KM drive from delhi, murthal is located on NH8, after you cross sonipat.
I have been going there often and still wonder , what it is all about , what draws people here, nothing special though you can still get parathas in delhi and yet people flock this place.
Well, nothing mysterious, it’s the fun of long drive and the hot food, gets Delhilites craving for more every time!
I went there again with my family on Diwali as my wife wanted to have paranthas. When you go towards murthal, the highway is wider and drive is very smooth till Chandigarh, though you would still come across patchy roads.
This time we decided to stop at Ahuja No1 parathe wala, apparently the first dhaba started by Late Shri Prem Kumar Ahuja, 70 years ago. I was talking to his grandson and he quoted that “ paratha and dal is the staple diet of murthal as long as he remembers”. Also not to forget that the green revolution which changed the agriculture in india had actually started in Punjab(Haryana was part of it then) and it also has rich tradition of dairy products. When people of Punjab and Haryana talk about “ yahan to dooh dahi ki nadiyan behti hain” –you can relate to it well. The white makkhan(unsalted butter, home made) , curd and chaach is diet of every household.
Murthal is a vegetarian place. It is said that a Naga sadhu named Kali Baba gathered the Murthal dhaba owners and shared that they will propser only if they do not sell non vegetarian food and people of Murthal have sentiments attached to it. When Mr. Ahuja started his dhaba some 70 yearsback, it wasn’t the way we see today.
It was not that fancy NH1 which it looks like now, not that 8 lane highway that you drive at 100 and reach chandigarh in straight 4 hours. It used to be long drive. Prem Ahuja had friends in transport and their trucks used to frequent punjab and others part of north india via murthal. He was known for his white butter and daal that were served with parathas made on tava not on tandoor like they do now days.
Friends insisted and he opened his dhaba and served paratha with daal and makkhan. It worked really well and people started flocking. Back then it was charpoy(khat) and open place like the true dhaba where people sit, eat and move on. It became popular destination amongst all the truck drivers.
His grandson says very proudly that you can’t get better kali dal anywhere because the water here is perfect for that and I agree to it. Water plays major role when it comes to food. I have most of the restaurant in delhi struggle to get the perfect pao which you easily get in Mumbai in every corner of the city. He also added further that when their dhaba started flourishing, other dhabas too mushroomed on the highway.
They introduced tandoor parantha, the way it is done in Punjab as it was getting difficult to cater to large number of customers.
I must say that this trip to murthal was very fruitful which eventually helped me understand they story behind it and also feed me well.