Winter delights: ’Tis the season to relish gajak, mungfali, rewri
Bonfire and the cracking of peanuts goes hand in hand when it’s winter – the season of comfort food that can be snacked while sitting cosily. Prepared using jaggery or sugar, peanut chikki, rewri, gajak, in different varieties have filled the markets ahead of the festivals of Lohri and Makar Sankranti. Here’s a sneak peak at the fresh stock that’s brimming the stocks of wholesale shops at Kishanganj, Bara Hindu Rao, near Aazad Market.
Variety abundant: Chocolate, til, khoya gajak
More than four types of groundnut and more than 10 varieties of chikki are available in this market. “We roast peanuts in front of the customer, and that’s why it will taste different if you have it here vis a vis at any other market in Delhi. While some prefer drum roasting, others want peanuts roasted in kadhai (pan),” says Kunal Mehra, a fourth generation seller at this market, adding, “In gajaks we have chocolate gajak, tilkoot gajak, dry fruit gajak, kaju gajak, marodi and others. Chocolate gajak is one of the most popular varieties.”
Khoya roll gajjak is another immensely popular variety. Amar Singh, a shopkeeper in the same market, says, “I’ve been preparing this item for the last 40 years, since my shop opened, and it’s our specialty. We prepare it in both jaggery and sugar, one can choose to try either. But these rolls taste best only when prepared fresh and consumed within a week.”
“As compare to last year, our business has reduced by 50% since the pandemic struck,” rues Mehra, informing about the low sales due to the pandemic. He adds, “There are almost no big scale celebrations happening for festivals this year, like there used to be Lohri celebrations in banquet halls earlier. Those venues used to buy regularly from us, but that’s not the case this year. Also, the footfall of buyers in the market has decreased to a great extent since most people want to avoid coming if there’s a crowd, due to the ongoing Covid situation.”
The number of helping hands available to the shopkeepers at present is also lesser at this point in time. “Last year we had around 30 helpers, but now we have only 10. A lot of them went back to their home towns during lockdown, in absence of livelihood. Years ago, in 2015 our shops were demolished, but we still managed to rebuild our businesses. This pandemic, however, has posed so many challenges that it seems difficult to sustain,” adds Singh.
Usman, another shopkeeper in the market, shares the same sentiment, adding, “Sardiyon mein Lohri tak hi main kaam hota hai. By this time, we usually used to sell out almost the whole stock of fresh papdi (chips), but this year the order from customers reduced by 50%. Abhi haal hi mein hui barish ki vajah se bhi log kam aaye, aur waise bhi gharon se jyada bahar nahi nikal rahe hain sab.”
Discounted prices are a plus
The price of winter delights are comparatively lesser in this market, which makes it a shopper’s haven. One kilo of groundnuts is available for somewhere between ₹120 to ₹200 in the local market, depending on the quality of the nut, whereas this market offers 20-30% discounted price. If buying in bulk, then the price might be slashed further.
“There used to be around 50 shops here before the demolition and presently 15 of them are here. We have been coming here for more than a decade, earlier my dad used to accompany me but due to pandemic, I didn’t bring him along. One of the reasons to buy from this market is affordability, the price difference is huge and plus we get fresh products,” says Satish Kapoor, a Dellhiite.
Author tweets @ruchikagarg271
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