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Tried and Tasted: Have you been to this excellent chaat shop in Old Delhi?

Tucked away inside a little lane in Dariba Kalan, Old Delhi, KDH Caterers serves the perfect chaat with just the right mix of flavours.

more lifestyle Updated: Mar 11, 2018 08:36 IST
Rahul Verma
KDH Caterers, earlier known as Subhash ki chaat ki dukaan, has been around for 50 years.
KDH Caterers, earlier known as Subhash ki chaat ki dukaan, has been around for 50 years.(HT Photo)

There are chaats, and there are chaats. I have noticed that this sweet-and-sour street food dish can lead to a great many bitter battles. For, diehard chaat lovers, like staunch biryani or kabab devotees, are pretty rigid in their views about where one gets the best fare from.

Delhi has quite a few famous chaat and dahi bhalla counters. On top of the list are two in Old Delhi – Natraj, which sells dahi bhalla and aloo tikkis, and Ashok, which does various kinds of chaats. Someone once said that location makes or mars a food enterprise. Certainly, both Natraj and Ashok are easy to reach – the former is near the Chandni Chowk Metro Station and the latter just outside the Chawri Metro Station exit.

But there are some chaat places tucked away inside little lanes that only true aficionados know of. One such tiny place in a narrow lane is KDH Caterers. It was once known as Subhash ki chaat ki dukaan. The shop is in Dariba Kalan. If you are on this lane that sells silver, look out for the perfumery Gulab Singh Johrimal – one of the oldest shops in the city. KDH is right opposite that.

The chaat shop has been around for 50 years or so. It was started by Subhash Chand Gupta, and is now run by Rumanshu Gupta, who also does a brisk catering business.

The chaat here is different from the kind that you get elsewhere. For one, because the shop is tucked away in a lane, it doesn’t have the crowds that throng some of the other chaat places in the area. This allows the chaat maker to prepare the dish with care, adding the right amount of masalas to each plate.

I had a plate of papri-bhalla chaat – fried flour discs with soft water-soaked dal vadas, covered with a generous dollop of yoghurt and some tart green chutney. I like my chaat with crispy kalmi vadas, so there were some of those, too. A handful of boiled chickpeas added to the taste. The ‘sonth’ – the sweet red chutney – was a bit different from the kind that you get elsewhere. It was a nice shade of red, and was not very thick, as some ‘sonths’ can be.

But what I loved the most was the garnishing. The chaat came topped with little juliennes of beetroot, ginger and carrot. They added a nice mix of flavours to the chaat, and I quite liked the idea that I was also taking in some healthy nutrients.

They also sell raj kachouri – a big disc with all kinds of stuffing – and fried aloo chaat. They have added pao bhaji to the menu to keep their clients happy. I was told that they do not use onion or garlic in any of their dishes or chutneys.

The chaat that I ate had just the right mix of flavours – with the light sourness of curd complementing the sweet-and-tart ‘sonth’ and the sharp green chutney. It was neither too hot, nor too spicy. In one word, perfect!

Go try KDH out. You will be left wiping your plate – and fingers -- clean.

Recipe: Sonth

Method: Soak half a cup of tamarind in two cups of water for a couple of hours. Mix the tamarind in the water and discard the seeds. Keep the pulp in the water and set aside. Heat some oil in a pan. Add ½ a tsp of cumin seeds to the oil. Add ½ tsp red chilli powder, a pinch of asafoetida, ½ tsp of coriander powder, some black salt and ½ tsp dried ginger powder. Fry on low heat. Add the water with the tamarind pulp in it. Add 7-8 tablespoons of grated jaggery to it. Mix and stir on low heat. Add melon seeds, dates or banana pieces if you wish to. When it gets a syrupy consistency, turn off the heat. Pour over papri or dahi bhalla and serve.

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