City Food – Ram Laddu, Lajpat Nagar & Gurgaon
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Is the best Paris-Brest in Paris? Is the best Mysore masala dosa in Mysore? Is the best Modi Nagar ki mashoor danedar shikanji in Modi Nagar?
To get the answer, you must travel the golden triangle of Paris, Mysore and Modi Nagar.
Or, do a shortcut. To confirm if a dish tastes best only in the place famous for it, simply shuttle between the neighbours Delhi and Gurgaon.
First go to Lajpat Nagar Central Market, in south Delhi, and try the crispy ram laddus in any random stall (here’s a shoutout to young Sukhbeer’s ram laddu cart). The bazar also boast of an immodestly large establishment dedicated to this modest street snack—Ram Laddu Food Corner (“seating facility upstairs”). Whatever, every big and small enterprise in Lajpat offers tip-top ram laddu. These deep-fried moong dal spheres give you instant joy.
Now, to Gurgaon, in Sector 14 Market. It’s an arcade with some fancy shops, some longtime chai places (check Mama Tea Stall), a long row of snack carts (all painted with the words “street vendor cart”), plus an old-fashioned single-screen cinema (Payal). But don’t be distracted. Look for a small cart with a very, very long name— ‘Dilli ke Lajpat Nagar ke mashoor tasty tasty moong dal ke ram laddu.”
The cart doesn’t have the grandiose of some of its Lajpat Nagar cousins, but the platter on the counter is as showy as the designs on the display board of Lajpat’s Santosh Mehendi stall. This evening it is holding four layers of ram laddus, topped with additional layers of accompanying hari mirchi pakoris. Another platter is piled up with a great white mound of grated mooli, the traditional ram laddu garnish. Alas, vendor Munchun Kumar is too much of an introvert to explain the connect between his “tasty tasty” ram laddu and the ram laddus of Lajpat Nagar. He serves a plate, silently. Verdict: these Sector 14 ram laddus are as swadisht as the Lajpat ram laddus. You feel newly alive.
May be all ram laddus are alike in their excellence. Nonetheless, how tummy-pleasing for the cartographer inside us to map the two distant localities of our baggy metropolitan region through such a tasty link.