Daulat ki chaat?!" asked my bewildered colleague. "What’s that?" A ‘true’ Delhiite who claims to know the city like the back of her hand, she is confident that there is no such ‘chaat’. This is before I take her to the chaotic galis of Chandni Chowk to discover this magnificent delicacy that is winter’s gift to any passionate foodie.
We manoeuvre our way through the human and animal traffic, greeted by hawkers selling bread and mirchi pakoras; paan leaves garnished with gulkand, sauf, cardamom and cherries, and of course, hot, steaming shakarkandi. Then there are shops selling shimmery, flashy, almost blinding wedding trousseaus that line the street.
Daulat ki chaat is a delicious dessert that you get only in the months between Diwali and Holi.
I lead my friend to a vendor balancing a big khomcha, half full with a white something (what is it? Frothy cotton? A creamy cloud?) with a dash of bright saffron and silver vark. "I thought you said ‘chaat’," she says.
Daulat ki chaat is a delicious dessert that you get only in the months between Diwali and Holi. The vendor, Rakesh Kumar, explains that the chaat is prepared during chilly winter nights when milk and cream are patiently whisked together for hours and the froth is made to settle by the dawn dew.
I ask for a small dona of daulat ki chat. For `20, the vendor deftly takes out a scoop, and sprinkles it with bura (powdered sugar) and crumbled khoya. It’s like a puff of snow – it melts in the mouth instantly, leaving behind a subtle, sweet aftertaste.
And you thought the ‘moonlit square’ of Shahjahanabad was only about crowded lanes, sumptuous mutton and mouth-watering jalebis?
From HT Brunch, January 11, 2015
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