City Food – Rasgulla Sandwich, RM Vats Marg
A dish less celebrated.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The blinding white April afternoon is hinting of the looming heat waves. Auto rickshaw driver Sajid stops by a pavement stall, here on south Delhi’s RM Vats Marg, close to the North Korean embassy. Stall owner Shiv Kumar swiftly readies a bowl, consisting of a spongy white rasgulla atop soppy wet “double roti” (white bread).
This combo—let’s call it rasgulla sandwich—has never been acknowledged in any food book dealing with our city’s street cuisines. Very puzzling, because the rasgulla sandwich wale can be sighted across the megapolis, including in Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Faridabad. Here’s a list of some such entrepreneurs. Veteran vendor Lalta Prasad has been selling the sandwich in Jangpura for more than 30 years. Sita Ram operates in Civil Lines. Jagram hawks along Mathura Road. Deepak Kumar mans a stall in Nehru Place business district. In Gurugram, Bikas, a Nepal citizen, serves the sandwich in Kamla Nehru Park, Akhlaq runs a stall near the poetically named Canal Rest House, Deepak Kumar can be encountered in Bhim Garh Kheri. In Ghaziabad, Ankush hovers about Vaishali Metro station.
Some of these men point out the vicinity’s labourers as their regulars. No surprises—anybody exerting hard physical work will find a quick (and inexpensive) energy boost in this sangam of sugar and starch. But the theory is true only upto a point. In Nehru Place, vendor Deepak’s patrons happen to be white collar types. And vendor Shiv Kumar, here on RM Vats Marg, has auto driver Sajid as his loyalist, who prefers the dish simply because “it’s tasty.”
Nodding to a new “order,” Shiv Kumar readies a new serving. The Kanpur native’s five-year-old stall is an exact copy-paste of every other rasgulla sandwich establishment—a bicycle with a metal container on the back-carrier. The rasgulla and bread slices lie in separate syrup-filled compartments. Shiv Kumar says he makes the rasgullas afresh every morning, while the “double roti” is “readymade.”
The dish’s first bite instantly snaps this reporter’s heat-weary senses into wakefulness.
Walking ahead on the pave, five minutes away, street food entrepreneur Rinku Pal is sighted. He too is selling the same rasgulla sandwich.