Full of hot air.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Envious outsiders dismiss us Delhiwallas as boastful loudmouths. Apparently we are full of hot air. The trait is accurately reflected, with a pinch of salt, in chhole bhature, Delhi’s classic Punjabi dish. Spicy chickpea gravy served with deep-fried, puffed maida bread, chhole bhature is hot, heavy and delicious.
This brawny dish is perfect for breakfast and can keep you going all day without a meal. If not cooked in a cholesterol-sensitive way, the gravy ends up being sinfully oily, a Godsend for the masala-seared Delhi belly.
One of the best places to experience the chhole bhature moment is at Kwality restaurant (circa 1939) in the central district of Connaught Place. The restaurant’s fine dining trappings of chandeliers, music, soft lights, orange upholstery and uniformed stewards lose their subtlety the moment its signature dish appears.
The bhatura is huge and the chhole gingery and pungent. The dullest taste bud is revived by the tartness of the anardaana (pomegranate) seeds at one instant, and soothed by the oil-soaked blandness of the crisp bhatura in the other. They also give raw onions and some really deadly pickles to go with the meal.
In many roadside stalls, however, bhaturas come speckled with paneer, as at the popular Nagpal stall near south Delhi’s Moolchand flyover. Don’t complain if that makes the heavy meal heavier. It’s Delhi.
Brawny and tough