City Food – Mathura ka Peda, Kucha Pati Ram
The charm of an out-of-town delicacy.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Some of the most universally loved Indian delicacies are identified with towns and cities where they were probably invented or given a special treatment — Agra ka Petha, Hyderabadi Biryani, Orai ka Rasgulla, Bombay ki Bhelpuri, Mysore Masala Dosa, Amritsari Machhi, Sandeela ka Laddu, and Khurja ki Khurchan.
Delhi is a centre of great gastronomic pretensions but shamefully it has no dish named after it.
Here’s a consolation.
The Manohar Lal Doodh Waale sweet shop in Kucha Pati Ram, near Ajmeri Gate, offers the city’s best Mathura ka Peda.
More than 100 km from Delhi, Mathura is the land of Krishna, the playful god fond of milk, makhan and mithais. The town is also famous for its sweet, gooey, dark-brown pedas.
In 1970, halwai Manohar Lal Garg moved from Mathura to Delhi and opened his mithai shop in this Walled City address, a picturesque alley still holding on to broken balustrades and cobwebbed doors of its old dingy havelis.
While Mr Garg, 72, also makes other sweetmeats such as rabri, khurchan, malai laddu and milk cake, it is the peda that forms the essence of his establishment. In the late afternoon, when the siesta hour kills the street life, the elderly man and his son, Sanjay, settle down to rustle out fresh lots of pedas.
With his practised hands, Mr Garg effortlessly transforms the entire heap of caramelised cardamom-flavoured khoya into dozens of pedas. Each peda is dusted with grounded sugar after which the son stacks the sticky balls one upon another in a deliciously chipped steel tray. 10 kg pedas are made daily; one kg is for Rs 400. The shop opens daily from 7 am to 10 pm.
Statutory warning: Them being only a little larger than a toffee éclair, you might end up eating too many pedas in one go.
With love from Mathura