Recently, on my homeward journey in Metro from office , I spotted 2 very cute girls from the Northeast chatting and laughing with each other. While they talked in their native language, images of chowmein laced with vinegar and soya sauce and veg. and paneer momos steaming inside a pan ran through my mind. The more they talked, the hungrier I felt, and the more my mouth watered with the thought of having them all on my dining table. ….
If they had been conversing in Gujrati, I would have probably thought of dhoklas, bhajias, and bhakras and if they had been South Indians, I would have imagined myself sitting with a plate of idlis, vadas, and dosas perhaps, and so on and so forth.
Well, we Indians are quite lucky that way, in culinary matters at least. We have access to a huge variety of foods from different regions, quite unlike so many countries.
If you ever happen to be walking on a dusty street of Delhi, just stop for a moment and look around you. You will most certainly find a couple of culinary heroes. They are generally migrants who have come from far-flung towns and villages in UP, Bihar, Haryana, Darjeeling, Nepal, Mizoram, etc. From morning till night, they cook, toil, and sweat, and sell their stuff to the locals with the hope of earning enough money for themselves and their folks back home. Their grit, courage, and determination are really admirable and that’s what makes them little Gods in their own right. The items they sell may not qualify for Michelin’s 5-star status, but they carry that special touch and feel of the land they have originated from. This is what makes Delhi a melting pot of so many cultures and cuisines.
Let me tell you about 2 such people.
Raju: You will find him at Uttam Nagar Bus Terminal, near Uttam Nagar East Metro Station. He has come from Uttar Pradesh. From morning till night, he fries cocktail samosas in a little karahi and sells them to the passersby. His price is Rs.10 for 4 samosas, that is, Rs.2.50 per piece, which is damn cheap if you compare it with a standard samosa in Delhi which costs Rs.10 per piece. His low pricing is his way of fighting competition.
A few days ago, it was raining when I passed by his shop. I usually avoid street food, but I just couldn’t resist the temptation and I bought these samosas. I was pleasantly surprised to find them very tasty and the spices were very balanced too. During the rainy season, he puts up a tent and carries on because sales are much more when it rains. Considering the amount of plastic that goes inside a packet of Kurkure of the same price (Rs.10), these samosas are, I think, far safer and more nutritious. Try them whenever you are passing through this place and you feel like eating something crunchy and spicy.
Tashi Sherpa: Tashi works for a living at Mini Market, AG-1 Vikaspuri. He has come from Darjeeling and lives in Uttam Nagar at present. He began his business in Vikaspuri about a year ago. His daily routine begins here at 4 PM.
His most significant contribution to this locality has been the introduction of ‘Buglet,’ a recipe which he has brought from Darjeeling, and 2 new varieties of samosa, chowmein samosa and macaroni samosa.
Samosas with fillings other than potatoes were earlier associated with places like Moti Nagar and Paharganj. Thanks to Tashi, we get them now in AG-1, Vikaspuri too! He is doing quite well here, he says with his characteristic smile, especially with his buglets and samosas.
Buglet is a kind of roll made from maida stuffed with chicken or vegetables depending on the preferences of the customers. The roll is fried in a karahi and sliced into two before serving.
Here are the photographs.
Raju @ Uttam Nagar Bus Terminal
Tashi Sherpa, AG-1, Vikaspuri
Buglets being deep-fried…
Before serving/packing, each Buglet is sliced into 2 pieces.
Tashi, busy with his customers…
Here are a few more heroes and Gods. These pics were all clicked near Uttam Nagar Red Light…
Seller of luscious and colorful fruits
Guptaji’s Faluda Kulfi…
Pawan Tikki Burger
Selling Shikanji (drink made with lemon juice, water, sugar, ice, and spices)