Delhiwale: The summer of sattu
Public Interest: In the peak Delhi heat, a cool drink from Bihar comes to the rescuedelhi Updated: Jul 10, 2017 15:15 IST
The rickshaw stops in front of Mahinder Singh’s stall. The passenger orders a glass. The rickshaw puller, too, asks for one. They both glug their drinks within a minute.
We see this sight on any hot morning at Old Delhi’s Turkman Gate. The pavement shack is right next to the centuries-old Mughal-era gateway.
In Delhi, the king of chillers at this time of the year may be the rose-flavoured Rooh Afza. But this sattu ka ghol—the cooling drink usually identified with the eastern state of Bihar — is not far behind.
Mahinder Singh founded his stall 40 years ago when he arrived in the city from his village in western Uttar Pradesh. In his 70s, he is always seen in a white kurta and dhoti.
When we visit, he had gone to Phatak Teliyan to get ice. His two sons, Vinod and Joginder, are preparing the drink — one brother adds the sattu flour and sugar into a water-filled container, the other churns the mixture with a ladle. It takes two days to finish off 7kg flour and 7kg sugar, the brothers tell us.
Soon, the father returns with ice. By now, more thirsty customers are trickling in, including an auto-rickshaw driver in a grey uniform.
The sattu stall is active from April to August, after which it disappears. What is life like for Mr Singh and sons from September to March? “We head to Punjab to work in jaggery production,” says Vinod.
The brothers say that their sattu ka ghol is so popular that the stall is regularly visited by doctors from as far away as “Irwin aspatal” (Lok Nayak Hospital). Instead of verifying this claim, we do the next best thing and order a glass. The drink instantly energizes us. We feel ready to take on the heat.