This is the most curiously named dessert in Delhi. The decadent ‘Hello to the Queen’ is available only in a few places in the capital. We ask you to try it at the backpacker-friendly Brown Bread Bakery in Paharganj’s Ajay Guest House.
Served in a glass bowl, the dish consists of scoops of banana-studded vanilla ice cream resting on a mound of cookies, and the whole concoction generously smeared with hot chocolate sauce.
‘Hello to the Queen’ is a made-in-India delicacy that seems to appear only on menus designed for foreign tourists, who hang out in hotspots such as Pushkar, Manali and Goa. Its origin is mysterious. Even the all-knowing Wikipedia is silent on the ‘Queen’.
A discussion forum on a travel website traces the dish’s creation to an Israeli tourist in a Pushkar cafe, who, on getting an upset stomach, asked the waiter to get him ice cream mixed with chocolate, whipped cream, bananas, coconut, marshmallow and cookies. Unlikely, but does it matter?
The slightly pared-down ‘Queen’ at the Ajay looks grand, but don‘t expect any sophistication to its taste. You simply get the distinct flavours of vanilla ice cream, banana, chocolate sauce and delicious cookies. If you manage to finish the entire ‘Queen’, you feel full and sleepy, ready to crash on a nice warm bed. Not unlike a diligent backpacker who has returned after a long trek. It helps — the café has a nice, long sofa.
The café is a dimly lit world of wicker chairs and travellers from around the world. There is sometimes a Hindi film junkie from Haifa, an elderly Jane Austenite from Cambridge, a textile designer from Brooklyn, and a retired nurse from London.
The other day we saw a long-haired man performing a yoga aasan, perhaps to wash down the ‘Queen’ in his belly.
WHERE: The hotel is on a street off the central road in the Main Bazaar. The galli is right opposite the now-closed Khanna cinema, the first of Paharganj’s famous single-screens to shut down.
GET THERE: Ajay Guest House, Main Bazaar, Paharganj
TIME: 7am to 11pm
NEAREST METRO STATION: Metro Station Ramakrishna Ashram Marg