Delhiwale: Richest of all desserts
It’s called Daulat ki Chaat but there is nothing spicy about it — just a ball of sublimely sweet fluffUpdated: Nov 24, 2017 09:34 IST
Daulat ki Chaat is more like an idea, an abstraction, than a dessert (yes, it’s called chaat, but it’s sweet, not spicy). Pop a spoonful of this blob of white froth in your mouth and it disappears. The lingering sweetness is as fleeting as an early morning dream.
Made of buffalo milk, Daulat ki Chaat is a street exclusive and doesn’t belong to the establishment. You are not likely to see it in mithai shops or in table-and-chair eateries. Sold on wooden carts or on three-legged mobile stands called tarona, its sellers are mostly migrants from UP and Bihar.
In Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi’s signature street, we once met Hukum Singh, a Daulat ki Chaat vendor from Moradabad, UP. The young Mr Singh lives with his brother in Jamuna Bazaar, north Delhi.
Every morning he wakes up at half-past-two and whisks cream with milk. Nothing is added, not even sugar. The froth builds up three hours later. At daybreak, Mr Singh leaves his house and boards the Metro for Chandni Chowk. From 9am to 9pm, with a tarona under his arm and a brass pan on his head, he makes several rounds between the bazaar’s two ends — Red Fort and Fatehpuri Mosque.
The pan holds 5kg dessert, the snow-white surface of which is coloured with golden-yellow saffron, green pistachio nuts and decorated with (edible) silver foil. Sold for Rs 10 a plate, the froth, just before being served to the customer, is dusted with bhoora (unrefined sugar) and roasted khoya (condensed milk). Tell the vendor in advance if you don’t want sugar.
Eaten with a wooden spoon, it feels like butter in the first bite. That impression instantly dissolves. A moment later your senses are filled with delicate flavours of pistachio, saffron and khoya. If you don’t take another spoon quickly, the taste vanishes.
Much romance is attached to the making of this fluff. One legend is that the milk is whisked under a full moon sky and the morning dew sets the resulting froth. Since this cloud of cream melts at high temperature, Daulat ki Chaat vendors are sighted in winter — from Diwali to Holi. Hawked in the congested alleys — amid dust, fumes and flies — the dessert, covered with muslin, proves that beauty can be found in the unlikeliest of places.