City Food – Mathura ka Peda, Kucha Pati Ram
Out of town delicacy.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Some of the most famous Indian dishes are identified with cities where they were invented or given a special treatment – Agra ka petha, Hyderabadi biryani, Orai ka rasgulla, Bombay ki bhelpuri, Mysore masala dosa, Amritsari machhi, Sandeela ka laddu, and Khurja ki khurchan. Delhi, a center of great gastronomic traditions, has no dish named after it.
The Manohar Lal Sweets, in Kucha Pati Ram, near Ajmeri Gate, offers the city’s best Mathura ka peda.
100km from Delhi, Mathura is known for its pedas: sweet, gooey, and dark-brown. The town is more famous for being the land of Krishna, the playful Hindu god fond of milk and milk-based sweets.
In 1970, halwai (sweet maker) Manohar Lal Garg moved from Mathura to Delhi and opened his mithai shop in this Walled City street that is lined with hole-in-the-wall groceries, hole-in-the-wall temples, hole-in-the-wall chai stops, and large havelis with beautifully carved wooden balustrades.
Besides the peda, Mr Garg also makes desserts like rabri, khurchan, malai laddu and milk cake. In the late afternoon, when the siesta hour kills the street life, Mr Garg and his son, Ajay, can be seen preparing a fresh lot of pedas. The father is seated on a chair placed on the street; a platter of caramelized cardamom-flavoured khoya (semi-solid thickened milk) rests on another chair.
With his practiced hands, Mr Garg quickly transforms the entire heap of khoya into dozens of neat round-shaped pedas. Each is dusted with grounded sugar. The son carefully stacks the sticky balls one upon another on a steel tray. Father and son make 10kg pedas daily; one kg is priced at Rs 300.
Being only a little larger than a Cadbury eclair, there is a danger of eating too many pedas in one sitting. That might give you a heavy feeling in the stomach but your desire might still not be satiated.
Where Kucha Pati Ram Nearest Metro Station New Delhi or Chawri Bazaar Time 7 am to 10 pm (open daily)
Mathura ka peda
Manohar Lal Garg & son