With summer heat leaving the city parched and mercury levels rising to a new high each passing day, summer specials like banta and traditional lassi come to the rescue of thirsty, tired shoppers and students alike. Savouries like kulfi, the traditional Indian ice-cream which melt slowly into the mouth, are the best pick by shoppers in crowded markets and a much needed treat during late-night summer walks. Making gelato fans jealous, kulfi has now surpassed the test of times with mouth-watering flavours like rose, mango, jamun and kiwi on offer in major south Delhi markets like Defence colony and Greater Kailash M-block. Often served in matkas (little clay pots) to keep it more insulated, kulfi fans still fall for its dripping taste on a stick.
For the fans of a chilled drink to quench their thirst, markets and restaurants are ready with a fresh glass of lassi. Traditionally preferred during or after a meal, lassi is distinctly popular with everyone, be it sweet or salty. The drink is jazzed up with rose water, saffron or pureed fruit.
Another drink that help in keeping people hydrated all summer long is the age-old formula of banta (lime soda). It is easy on pocket and youngsters love its refreshing taste as opposed to carbonated cold drinks. One can have it sweet, salted or with a dash of black salt and cumin powder to beat the heat. For shake buffs, Batla House is a haven with fulfilling date and fig shakes on offer. Students from Jamia and nearby Amity university occasionally drop in to engage their taste buds in the sumptuous delights. HT South Delhi takes a look at many more such ways to beat the heat this season.
Keep cool with date shakes
Batla House is always buzzing with activity. During the scorching summer days, shops in its narrow lanes offer various kinds of shakes. However, the shake that attracts almost everyone is the one made from khajoor (dates) at Reliance Shakes and Ice cream in the packed market on Nafees Road. Although there are many stalls in the locality that sell shakes, the air-conditioned shop and dates imported from Iran gives Reliance Shop an edge over the others. Visitors throng the shop in summers as well as winters as, they say, the taste of crushed dates mixed with milk is unique.
A glass of date shake costs Rs 40. It also sells anjeer (fig) shake at Rs100, but only on demand as its preparation takes a lot of time. Besides, there are mango, banana and chikoo shakes. The shop was set up five years ago as a easy-on-pocket, student-friendly shake centre. Owner Mohammed Saleem, 33, said, “People from various walks of life come for shakes mainly for the ones made of dates. We see a lot of students from Jamia and Amity universities.”
The shakes are not just tasty, Saleem claims they are healthy as well as dates are added to some shakes as a substitute for sugar. “Even if you buy mango shake, they mix dates instead of sugar. The sweetness is just right and dates are good for health. The rates are also affordable,” said Amir Ashraf, a student. Dates are beneficial for people suffering from intestinal disorders and heart problems. It is also good for muscle development.
Good old ‘banta’ continues to rule the street, but sellers feel the heat
It is a hot summer day and Manohar Lal, 58, swiftly opens a glass bottle (codd-neck bottle), pours the liquid into a disposable glass, adds a pinch of black salt and squeezes a lemon into the drink. Handing it over to a customer in the ever-bustling Lajpat Nagar market, he said the sales will pick up once summer reaches its peak. Manohar Lal claims to be one of the oldest banta sellers in the area. The good old ‘kanche wali bottle’ or lemon soda as it is popularly called is back on the city’s streets. The bottle with a kancha (marble stone) fixed at its top, has been Delhi’s cheapest, but most refreshing, local drink for years.
Banta stalls are thronged by students and shoppers in markets like Lajpat Nagar, Sarojini Nagar, and Greater Kailash’s M-block, around colleges and near Metro stations. One such banta shop is Prince Paan Corner at M-block market in GK-I. His banta comes with a difference though. He adds a ‘secret’ homemade masala to the drink, which is a hit among customers.
Radhe Shyam, the owner, said, his family makes the masala. The shop initially started out as paan corner in 1965, today, Radhe Shyam owns a chain of paan outlets and a chaat corners also selling banta. “We started with selling paan, but later thought of selling lemon soda as well. It is an old traditional drink preferred by many during summers and we gave it a twist by adding our own masala. The sales pick up during June-July,” he said.
These bottles are manufactured and filled with soda, mostly in UP’s Meerut and other states like Punjab. One-room units that fill the bottles after buying them from these dealers operate in Bhogal, Mehrauli and Old Delhi. However, since the drink is seasonal, the banta-sellers do other odd jobs for the rest of the year to make ends meet. Jatin Bharadwaj, of Shiva Soda Water, supplies lemon soda to vendors and shopkeepers in major markets including Lajpat Nagar and Sarojini Nagar. He said business has dipped over the years due to soft drink manufacturing machines.
“Many shopkeepers these days buy the machines and sell soft drinks in a variety of flavours on prices cheaper than that of banta. At present, a codd bottle costs us around Rs 50, but the drink is sold for Rs 20-40, depending upon the vendor. It doesn’t leave us with much profit margin as compared to other soft drinks vendors,” said Bhardwaj, 25, who visits the markets every day to take stock of the sales. While he makes some money during the season, Bharadwaj takes up other jobs to keep going for the rest of the year.
“I take up other seasonal works such as during the wedding season in winters I rent out sound systems and organise other events. My father had set up the lemon soda business. After he passed away in 2003, I took up other jobs in order to support my family,” said, Bharadwaj, who lives in Jangpura.
Scoop of happiness: Indulge your sweet tooth with chikoo, kiwi kulfis
If the market in South Extension-II is your favourite shopping destination then it is worth stopping at Charan Singh’s kulfi shop before heading home. Charan Singh, who operates from a van that sells 27 types of kulfi started his business 30 years ago by selling Kala Khatta chuski — an art he learnt from his father — on a cycle.
Singh said the reason behind his kulfi being so popular in the area is because he researches on his products to make them better. “When I started the business, my friends told me that vendors in Mumbai sell the best Kala Khatta. So I travelled to Mumbai to see how they made it,” he said. He worked equally hard to make kulfi. He kept experimenting with different ingredients in his kulfi to the point people said it’s “perfect.” The kulfi he sells are priced between Rs 80 and Rs130. He operates from a van and has engaged a worker who helps him. “Jamun and chikoo kulfis are the most loved among customers,” he said.
Another place to go for your kulfi fix is Defence Colony market. Known for its faluda kulfi, Moets has been operating here for more than 25 years. The kulfi shops here attracts almost every person who comes to the famous eating joints in Defence Colony, leave apart the people in the neighbourhood who prefer to have their meals at home but do not go to sleep without having the dessert at these shops. The Singh family that owns the shop is from Gonda district in Uttar Pradesh. “My grandfather worked in a kulfi shop in Karol Bagh and shifted to this place in 1965. Since then people from our family have been making and selling kulfis here,” said Sonu Singh. They serve varieties of kulfi all priced at Rs100.
Kulfiano, on the other hand, is known for selling kulfis made with real fruit. “We use real fruit pulp in all variants,” said Jasleen Kaur, the manager at Kulfiano. They have about 25 varieties; however, people prefer mango, anar, kiwi, falsa, fruit cream, rose and jamun. The kulfis here are priced between Rs 50 and Rs 90. They also have branches at Amar Colony and Hauz Khas Village.
If Charan Singh sells his Kulfi on a cycle, at Kings Kulfi in Saket’s DLF Place mall you would get an altogether different ambience but an equally good taste. Kings Kulfi sells a variety of colourful and exotic kulfis. From the regular ‘badam pista’ to ‘kiwi apple’, they stock up unique flavours. The shop sells over 30 varieties of kulfis at prices ranging between Rs 45 and Rs 80.
Refresh yourself the traditional way with a glass of chilled lassi
The thick, creamy and frothy lassi served at Panditan di Hatti in Bhogal is perfect for the multitudes of tired shoppers who frequent the markets nearby. Extremely filling, the chilled lassi is served in giant steel glasses with a generous topping of malai. Gulshan Sharma, who is carrying forward his father’s legacy, informed that the shop has been operational since 1947. “My father owned a lassi shop in Lahore which was a quite popular. But, after Partition he left everything and moved to Delhi and set up the business here.” His father’s hard work paid off and the shop became quiet popular among visitors in a short span. “There used to be long queues of people outside the small shop, waiting to buy lassi which was served in kullads,” Sharma said.
As their popularity grew, the small shop turned into a big restaurant with many snack items added to the menu. But, even today, the lassi remains a favourite among its customers.
A glass costs Rs 35 here and what makes it special is that Sharma claims to put a minimum of 250 gm of curd and a big quantity of sugar (it might be a big quantity for diet-conscious people) for each serving.
Unlike Panditan di Hatti, at Madan Lassi Shop in Lajpat Nagar, the drink is served in plastic glasses but its popularity can be judged from the fact that the stock finishes in just a few hours of opening the shop. “Though we serve lassi for four months of summer, we are quite popular because of the reasonable price and good quality,” said Suresh Kapoor, owner of the shop. Harvinder Singh a resident of Lajpat Nagar-III has been a regular customer of the shop for 10 years. “I love the lassi as well as the variety of pakoras served here,” he said.
The mouth-watering lassi available in various flavours at Kents in Defence Colony is also worth a try. The flavours include mango, jeera and sweet lassi and costs Rs 60. “Following the demand of people we introduced the traditional drink in our menu 10 years ago and it became an instant hit, especially during summers. To maintain the authentic taste we pay special attention to the preparation. For example, only real pulp is used in the mango lassi,” said Jaspal Singh, owner of the shop.