City Food – The Archaeology of the Pavement Golgappa Stall, Connaught Place
Street food beyond food.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
You raise it up with your naked hand, insert it into your mouth and the rest is indescribable. Great shivers run down your entire being. It is mysterious that a modestly-sized crispy shell filled with spiced potato, chickpeas and tamarind water can secrete so much pleasure.
Golgappa is one of Delhi’s most common street snacks. Its pavement vendors are seen wandering across the city.
One evening The Delhi Walla comes across a golgappa stand in one corner of the Colonial-era Connaught Place. The seller is nowhere to be seen but his stall stands as a mute testament to the most elemental archaeology of the city’s street food civilization.
I’m strictly referring to all the distinct parts that make up a mobile street food stall–they are easy to assemble.
The golgappa container rests on a tirona, a wooden tripod sold for a meager 150 rupees in Old Delhi’s Khari Baoli. The bottom of the tirona has a basket for customers to dispose off their used bowls. A piece of folded cloth called aeeroa (see photo 4 below) is discreetly placed between the tirona’s wooden bars. Stall owners put on this protective headgear before placing the golgappa platter on the head.
Soon, the stall owner, Gajendra Singh, appears (see top photo). He has come to dismantle the booth. He quietly places the aeeroa on his head, picks up the large golgappa case, carefully balances it over his headgear and walks away to another part of Connaught Place with the tirona held around his arm.
The making of a food stall