Tried and Tasted: Head to Asaf Ali Road for the best chholey kulchey in Delhi
Mukesh’s chholey kulchey are hugely popular among officer-goers on Asaf Ali Road in the Capitalmore lifestyle Updated: Oct 22, 2017 13:07 IST
Mukesh is an old friend. I can’t recall when I first met him, but I know it was aeons ago, and he has been a true pal ever since. He is an ace mattra maker – and really a master in putting the muttar chhola together.
Mattra or muttar chholey served with kulchey is one of Delhi’s lip-smacking street food items. You find the chholey sellers everywhere in town, standing next to what’s usually a shiny wide-bodied brass vessel. In the vessel he carries boiled dried white peas, cooked with almost no spices. He serves this topped with a sprinkling of masalas, some chutneys and chopped onions.
We grew up eating this. Those days, the chholey was served in a small sal leaf and we were given a tiny piece of the leaf to use as a spoon. I loved it then – and I love it now.
But Mukesh is no ordinary chholey kulchey maker. He has been selling his special fare for the longest time from the corner of a covered verandah in Asaf Ali Road, near the LIC Building and the Hamdard Office. He has a cart next to him on which stands a huge tawa over a small stove. On the tawa you will find small pieces of potatoes being roasted, and aloo tikkis, for his fried potato patties – pressed between two slices of bread -- are getting to be rather popular, too. Since it is a busy office area, I often spot people eating these sandwiches for lunch or as a snack.
But most people gather there for his kulchey chholey. There is a cauldron in one corner with the boiled chholey in it, and kulchas on another side. He takes a small plate, and puts a layer of roasted potatoes in it. He tops this with the boiled chholey, some rock salt and a sprinkling of masalas. He then squeezes a wedge of lime over it. He then gives it a good shake, and adds some tart green chutney over it, and then a spoonful of red sweet chutney with pumpkin and some other seeds in it.
Then he gives it another good mix, and tops it with small slices of kachaloo. On top of this he adds some ginger juliennes, chopped green chillies and chopped tomatoes. And if you like onions, he will put some chopped pieces too. There was a time when he used to add pomegranate seeds to the chholey, but he doesn’t do so any more.
While he is putting all this together, on the tawa a helper is warming the kulchey. Once the chholey has been assembled, he serves it with three warm kulchas. The chholey with three kulchas is for Rs 30 – and is a full meal in itself. But I nostalgically recall the time when this came for Rs 10.
Mattra kulcha is healthier than chholey bhaturey, for the kulchas are not fried, and the peas are merely boiled. But the taste is stupendous.
Now I find that Mukesh’s son is helping him in what’s turned out to be a family business. The stuff is as good as ever, and every time I scoop out some chholey with a piece of a kulcha and pop it into my mouth, I get the feeling that there’s indeed a heaven on earth. And it’s in one corner of Asaf Ali Road.
Mattra chhola recipe
Ingredients: 2 cups dried white peas,1 finely chopped medium-sized onion, 1 finely chopped tomato, Juice of two limes, 1/2sp baking soda, a pinch of asafoetida, 1 cup of sweet tamarind chutney, 1 cup green chutney, 1tsp roasted cumin powder, 1tsp black salt, 2tsp ginger juliennes, 2tsp chopped green chillies
Soak the peas for seven hours or so. Pressure cook it with baking soda, asafoetida, salt and a little bit of water. Take it off the stove after four whistles. Mix the chutneys with the chholey, sprinkle cumin powder over it. Add lime juice and mix well. Now garnish with tomatoes, onions, green chillies and ginger juliennes. Serve with kulchey.