City Food – Delhi’s Best Jalebis, Mehak Food, Kalkaji
The king of jalebis.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
“These are Delhi’s best jalebis,” he declares. “And believe me, I’ve tried them all.”
The young man, a secretive street food connoisseur, insists that his name should not be disclosed. If his addiction to jalebis came to be known, he jokes, his career and marriage prospects would be compromised.
“There are more famous places around the city,” he explains to The Delhi Walla with a disdainful sweep of the hand, “but their jalebis are either too spongy (here they’re just crispy enough) or lacking in aesthetics (here their lace pattern is refined and precise, like dental architecture) or too bland (here they are just juicy enough, and they taste like sugary drops of heaven).”
In Mehak Food, the place he admires so much, jalebis share the light with samosas, lassi, chole bhature and thalis of different kinds. Located on Hansraj Sethi Marg in Kalkaji, the small eatery apparently looks like any other dhaba the neighbourhood is full of. It has a long counter, regular customers leaning against it, gods on the walls, and the inimitable flavour of a local gathering place. Manoj Kubba, the owner, says he opened the place 18 years ago, and has been selling jalebis ever since. From the other side of the counter, the gentleman is accepting orders and processing payments with great calm and solemnity. He is sitting under a portrait of his father, “late Shri Som Dev”. Mr Kubba also keeps marigold flowers in his cash drawer.
As the anonymous jalebi aficionado settles down with a thirty-rupee heap of shiny, syrupy jalebis, a glorious expression on his face, a question has to be raised… Isn’t he afraid of getting fat?
“This is not fat yaar, this is love!”
And he is beaming indeed, as he delicately seizes a jalebi from the aluminium plate.
“The trick is to have just a few at a time,” he explains. “Come regularly, but never have more than your belly can take.”
And with a wink he slightly raises his shirt to unveil a stomach looking as flat as any publicity campaign for weight loss programmes, sports underwear or bathing suits — worlds in which jalebis do not have a place, one would have thought.
Just the right jalebis