City Food – Raw Vegetables, Around Town
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Delhi food is laden with butter gravies and tandoori meats offering no respite to the digestion.
Relief is to be found in cut vegetables, served raw with a sprinkle of masala salt.
In summer, the street hawkers fill their carts with cucumbers and their slimmer cousins called kakdis.
In winter, they sell tender, sweet carrots and radish, especially at congested traffic lights and railway crossings. Child-boys run up and down carrying the freshly peeled veggies, the green leaves (sometimes retained) contrasting with the virginal white and bright orange. In Delhi’s difficult weather, this is one of the greatest comfort foods.
At Kasturba Gandhi Marg, next to the Hindustan Times building, a woman sits in the summer months with a basket of cucumbers. She peels them lovingly and keeps them cool in a plastic tub filled with water. Most cucumber vendors slice the vegetable (technically speaking it’s a fruit) into four long slices, which are often salted and seasoned with lemon. But she brings her own special spice mixture, prepared daily at home.
Within moments of her handing the cucumber to you, the paper plate is drenched with its water. The spice mixture flows along the surface, entering the crevices between the seeds. Each bite fills the mouth with juice that now tastes of roasted cumin, now of coriander, now of black pepper. Five rupees is little to pay for such a delight.
Sadly, foreign tourists must keep off from these street-side vegetables. They might catch Delhi Belly.
Cool like cucumber
More lemon, please
Sprinkle water, keep fresh
Shades of red
Incense fragrance = Out with flies
The remains of the day
Worth a steal
Worth living for