Raindrops on your platter

 Prateek Dhingra, owner of khandani pakodewala

Prateek Dhingra, owner of khandani pakodewala


Come rains and monsoon, street food corners come alive with the wafting aroma of spicy pakodas with chai, piping hot aloo tikkis and jalebis. SANGEETA YADAV & PRAKRITI ROY do some tasting at Delhi’s must-visit joints under the drizzle

Dariba Jalebi Wala, Chandni Chowk

Just at the Dariba nukkad on the main road of Chandni Chowk, between Sis Ganj Gurudwara and the Red Fort, lies this famous jalebiwala. The tiny shop looks unassuming, but is a hot sell. Established in 1884, the shop is currently owned by the fifth generation of the family, Abhishek Jain. It opens up with its delicious matar and aloo samosas alongside jalebi and rabri from 8 am and carries on till 10 pm.

“Our jalebis are different from other places. They are thicker and there is a slightly different recipe as we use pure ingredients and a different kind of sugar. Usually the jalebi has this slightly sour taste, but ours never do,” says Jain. The jalebis sell more than the samosas and people from all over the world come calling here , mainly tourists during winters. When it rains in Delhi, the sales go up.

Jain insists that the jalebis at his shop are so appealing to anyone who has had them that they keep coming back for more. “Just last week, we got a visit from a person who was visiting from the US. He told us that he came all the way here just to have the jalebi after 30 long years!” Jain tells you.

The jalebi and rabri costs Rs 500/kg. The aloo samosa is for Rs 20/piece and the matar  one costs Rs 25/piece.

Khandani Pakodewala, Nauroji Nagar

khandani pakodewala

Since independence, the Khandani Pakore Wala at Nauroji Nagar has been the best known monsoon hot-spot of Delhi. Open from 10 am to 9 pm, the variety ofpakoras, the chutney and the prices are to die for.

“Earlier, we had 10 varieties of pakoras including gobi, soya, aloo, palak, paneer, baingan, kamal kakadi, bread pakoda etc. My father invented patodh ke pakode which is made from arbee leaf and it is sold only during monsoon. We sell it for Rs15 a piece. The least priced item is mirchi ke pakore which costs Rs4. Karele ke pakode is also seasonal due to lack of good quality round the year. Sweet corn pakora is rare and our mix veg pakora has eight vegetables like peas, potatoes, beans, carrot, cabbage, etc. We also make senda namak ke pakode during Navratras but our hot selling item is paneer pakoda and gobi pakoda,” 30-year-old Prateek Dhingra tells you, adding that late Jaspal Bhatti used to be their regular customer.

What started off as a small unit has now become a big snack food joint. It was only 20 years ago that the shop got its name — Khandani Pakorewala — given by his great grandfather when asked by a journalist.“The outlet was started by my great grandfather Balram Dhingra at Sarojini Nagar and post-independence, he shifted to Nauroji Nagar Market in 1962. I was not keen to join the restaurant business. When I was 23, I worked for a year but left to continue my work in the multimedia industry. My father met with an accident in 2009 and since then I have been looking after this joint. He was in coma for more than six years and passed away in February this year,” Dhingra says, adding that they have around 25 workers, some of them working from more than 20 years with his family.

Of late, the prices have been revised due to inflation.

“Besan which used to cost Rs 1200 is now selling at Rs 4000 per 35 kg bag. Every day, we use 25 kg of potatoes. But we can’t raise the prices. No one person knows the recipe. Every person is specialised in making pakoras the way they have been getting made since its inception. Work starts at 5 am daily. Our speciality is our chutney which you can have as much as you want and I can assure you your stomach will not get upset. Whatever we eat, we serve the same food to our customers,” Dhingra asserts.

Chacha di Hatti, North Campus 

This small kiosk in the Kamla Nagar market is a very famous breakfast and brunch spot among students. Open between 10 am and 2 pm, the shop only serves chhole bhature, plain or stuffed with aloo. Owner Parveen says, “The shop was started by my father 60 years back. I have been looking after it since I was in Class VI.” The chhole is its USP. The chickpeas are smaller than usual and have a distinct sourness. “Most of our customers are students, but they keep coming back for our chhole bhature even after they pass out of DU. Maybe because we haven’t changed anything in the menu or the recipe,” Parveen says.

He adds that sales definitely go up when the weather is cool and it’s an added advantage if the University is in session. “We’ve created a bond with our patrons through our food. The ones who keep coming back become like family,” he says.

The plain bhature cost Rs 40 and the stuffed ones cost Rs 45 a plate.

(The article got published in Sunday Pioneer  – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/raindrops-on-your-platter.html).


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