EATING OUT Whether it is rich Lucknavi curries, dynamite chaats or multi-hued variety of sweets, Sowcarpet’s food scene is nothing short of the dramatic. PAYAL CHHABRIA
At dawn, as the bells from the temple ring aloud, Mint Street in Sowcarpet witnesses pushcarts being swept after the previous night’s dinner and set up for breakfast. The vendors and food fanatics are all set to participate in the unremitting food saga in this part of the city.
Art of food
“Please pack four Jantar Mantar’s and serve me one for breakfast,” orders a hungry young man who has found his way here from Ambattur. It’s still just the beginning of the day and the scene at “Jantar Mantar” (also the stall’s name) is full of life. Sunil looks like he’s playing an instrument as he crafts kachori, pudina chutney, dahi wada and corn flakes in a specific order into what he calls Jantar Mantar (Rs. 35).
You might almost miss the place, if you are a first-timer but for the stall that shares space with it: Anmol Mohit Patiala. No, not because it has a prominent name plate but because of the person at its helm; a subtler version of Khali (the wrestler) he stands tall behind a bunch of earthen matkas. However, his way of serving is so overwhelming that people stop just to have a word with him. In the bargain he sells them his kesar lassi in sparkling silver-coated glasses. He says, “As my name Anmol (means priceless), so is the drink I sell.”
Half way through the snack and drink, you suddenly smell the tempting aroma of desi ghee. Looking around you spot a deluxe sweet destination and an age-old name in most North Indian households, “Kakada Ramprasad”, at the corner. Ravi Kakada says, “When we started we had a small stall; over the last 45 years we’ve developed into this two-storey complex where we offer sweets and chaats.”
A little further down, women in particular seem to find the Novelty Tea House an appropriate spot to break their shopping spree. Jitendra Shah says, “It’s been 53 years; we’ve expanded our variety over the years. Today we offer all cuisines (North Indian, South Indian, chaats and Continental). However, our pav bhaji will always remain special.” He also insists that we take note of the fact that they use only pure ghee in their food.
This place spares none, not even fusion. A match-box like cubicle, Chat Pata Chaat House, has old Hindi music playing in the background as the aroma of corn au gratin, murukku sandwich, masala Coke, cheese balls and cheese pepper fries fill the air. Scattered across the area, like an over-abundance of songs in a Karan Johar film, are carts that shoulder pots and pans carrying samosas, kachoris, sandwiches, cutlets and a plethora of chaats. And, of course, to quench your thirst is freshly made ssugarcane juice; juice extracted at 10 minute intervals to satiate the unceasing crowd. However, this film is incessant, inevitable and irresistible in spite of its dramatic overtones.
Visual treat: Their taste buds leading the way, Divya and Payal explore the streets of Sowcarpet. Watch the video online at: bit.ly/sowcarpet-food
Payal is a II Year M.A. Communication student at M.O.P. Vaishnav College for Women.
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