City Food – Bel Sherbet, Galli Suiwallan Street
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
He sells only one kind of sherbet, but on the other hand it’s said to be Lord Shiva’s favourite.
Bel or wood apple sherbet, dispensed at Nafees Khan’s stall, is also considered in Ayurveda to remedy all manner of heat-triggered ailments. “And it has a flowery fragrance,” reveals Mr Khan.
His drink does have a thick consistency so different from other juices. The sherbet is kept cold with huge slabs of ice that slowly melt into the mixture from evening to late night; his establishment is open daily from 8pm to midnight on congested Galli Suiwallan Street in Old Delhi.
This stall is so very, very basic—just a table with a large pan filled with sherbet—that you might think the business was maybe set up sometime last week. But, in fact, Mr Khan’s business is practically a landmark, launched by his father long ago. “He would sit at this very spot, and did so before dying 22 years back,” explains Mr Khan.
Just gazing upon this sherbet is somehow cathartic on a hot night. Its still surface has a beauty to it, with the bazaar lights reflecting out of it. Inevitably the sherbet seller must stir the liquid at some point, a moment that is dramatic, when a kind of harmony is momentarily disrupted.
The stall lasts only for the summer. Mr Khan sells diapers on the same spot the rest of the year.
A summertime watermark