City Food – Dolly Sharma’s Lunch Van, Shankar Chowk
From the world of rajma chawal.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Tej patta leaves are floating underneath the thick red gravy. Whole roasted lal mirchi too can be spotted. The dish is so hot you can see steam hissing out of it. Rajma is looking like the rajma maa makes at home. In the light of all that has unfolded since 2020, it is an adventure to have homey food in the office district of Millennium Gurgaon, in the Greater Delhi Region, while surrounded by fellow diners who have again started to WFO (work from office).
As the pandemic appears to fade, here is an opportunity to re-acclimatise to old-world normalcy.
This is a eatery on a service lane in Shankar Chowk, with dishes stacked up inside a white car. Round tables (no chairs) are arranged on the pave, making the place look like a casual Al fresco cafe. A venerable gent in full sleeve shirt, pants and tie is silently finishing his plate of rajma chawal.
Prepared by “chef Raju Pratap Singh” in a dedicated kitchen elsewhere, the khana is tasty, but that is not the only motivation to try this place. The lunch stall is the testimony of a fellow citizen’s spirited determination to survive and thrive. A Sector 7 dweller, former “property dealer” Dolly Sharma runs her business because “I want to be self-independent.” In her early 30s, she founded the eatery three years back, after getting the idea from an office-going friend. “Pooja suggested me to start a business to serve ghar jaisa khana for office-goers like her.” At that time nobody knew that the world would soon be turned upside-down by the forthcoming pandemic. The successive lockdowns disrupted Ms Sharma’s enterprise. The periods between the lockdowns were equally trying, as most office-goers were WFH-ing. “I hope things will now get better dheere-dheere.”
Showing the day’s dishes, Ms Sharma points out that matar paneer and rajma are her menu’s permanent choices, while other dishes rotate throughout the week. Today, there’s chhole and karhi as well.
Across the lane is another lunch stall. Ms Sharma calls it a rival. Since the khana there too looks yummy, maybe both enterprises can coexist harmoniously. The stall serves from 11am to 3pm. Sunday is closed.