City Food – Heera Lal’s Kulle Chaat, Chawri Bazaar
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He picks up a whole boiled potato, scoops out most of its flesh with a knife and fills the ensuing void with delicious stuffing.
Depending on your taste, he can substitute the potato with melon/cucumber/shakarkandi/mango/apple/banana.
This is the famous kulle chaat – and to The Delhi Walla‘s knowledge*, it is available only at the extremely humble-looking Heera Lal Chat Corner in Old Delhi’s Chawri Bazaar.
Sitting adjacent to a framed picture of the aforementioned delicacy, Ram Babu Kushwaha says that he invented it at the turn of this century. “One day I was simply experimenting by hollowing out the potato and filling it with spices and lemon juice,” he says. “It tasted nice and I started selling it along with our other items. We named it after kulhar, the earthen vessel we traditionally use to drink tea. Our regular customers appreciated the new recipe. Later, I added boiled chickpeas into the mixture. That became more popular. To make the chaat more colorful and tasty, I also introduced pomegranate seeds into the filling.”
The eatery is named after Mr Kushwaha’s father but it was founded by his grandfather, Rati Ram, who had moved to Delhi “many many years ago” from Najibabad, a town near the Himalayan foothills. The former farmer began his life in this city by selling fruits on the pavements of Chawri Bazaar. Today, Mr Kushwaha, assisted by his two brothers, is carrying forward the legacy — with much respect and creativity.
Although the stall serves classics such as golgappas and paav bhaji, you need to focus only on these scooped eye-catchers – the juicy pomegranate seeds glisten like pink diamonds. As you pop a kuliya in your mouth, it explodes, leaving you reeling under a multitude of flavors. You feel good about yourself.
Where Gali Lohe Wali, Chawri Bazaar Nearest Metro Station Chawri Bazaar Time 10 am to 8 pm
* I may be correct only up to a point. The local-food website Eat Your World says here that Kulle is also available at Jugal Kishore Ramji Lal (13, Dujana House, Chawri Bazaar), Sultan Kullewala (1716, Roshan Pura, Nai Sarak), and Bishan Swaroop (1421, Chandni Chowk).
Eat it like a dim sum