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Helsinki se Chandni Chowk

entertainment Updated: Sep 23, 2010 01:31 IST
Namya Sinha
Namya Sinha
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The firing at foreigners outside Jama Masjid on Sunday has not deterred foreigners from enjoying the flavours of Delhi. While some tourists come to Delhi for sightseeing, a few are like Helena Kaartinen from Helsinki, Finland. This Finnish woman is on a mission — to work in a food stall in Old Delhi.

Sitting at a small kachori stall called Jung Bahadur Kachori Wala, in a narrow lane in Paranthe wali gali in Chandni Chowk, Helena, 52, was selling the kachoris this Monday. She was the star attraction in the crowded market.

Shukriya, you want more kachori? More spices,” she asked as she fried the kachori in a giant wok filled with bubbling hot oil. Very professionally, she flicked the kachoris out, put two of them on a leaf bowl and added the potato gravy on the top.

It is not everyday, that you see a foreigner selling kachoris. Dressed in a classic dark blue uniform of an European airline where she works as a stewardess, the woman charmed the customers who made a queue to get a glimpse of her. Of course, the kachoris were also tempting.

Why is she doing it? “I’m here because a family member of this kachori shop works with me in the same airline. I want to compare the feeling of working in a traditional shop in Old Delhi to that of working in an airplane and hence the uniform,” she says.

So how’s Delhi-6? “The people are very friendly. I’ve never seen so many people in one place before” Being hospitable, the shop owner insisted Helena to taste the kachori she was serving. Taking a bite of the crispy kachori, dunked in spicy potato gravy, topped with chopped green chillies, tears came instantly to her eyes. “This is absolutely delicious but very spicy. I’m sure I don’t want to eat anything after this,” she said, adding, “The food in Finland is very different and even the kind of eateries are very different. This is a different charming world all together.”

And how was the experience of Delhiites, who were having their chaat served by a European airhostess? “The kachoris are great and it is good that the foreigners want to know about India,” said Shobha Sharma, who bought a plate of kachoris from Helena.