City Food – Motichoor Laddu, Ghantewala Halwai
Food for the gods.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It is the sweet of the gods. On Tuesdays, Hindus offer Hanuman boondi laddu, made of deep-fried besan balls held together with flavoured sugar syrup. The pot-bellied Ganesha, the god of writers, is known as modak-priya, the one who loves modak, Sanskrit for laddu.
While Swiss chocolates have begun to be in vogue as Diwali presents, the boxes of good old boondi laddu haven’t gone out of fashion yet. Be it your daughter’s engagement, your wife’s birthday, or your son’s first job, any happy occasion that demands ‘mooh meetha karao’ (sweeten the mouth), is an occasion for boondi laddu to be distributed. In Bollywood potboilers, the widowed mother of the hero makes him boondi laddu when he returns from his unjustified incarceration in jail.
There is no one single place to have the best boondi laddu in Delhi. The syrup used in different shops is flavoured with different ingredients, such as saffron, cardamom, cloves and rose water. In the tea stalls of the city’s slums, glass jars are filled with laddu whose round boondis are thick, coarse and dry, but delicious.
In upscale mithai shops such as the Haldiram outlets or Evergreen Sweets in Green Park Market, the boondi laddu is sold in a version called motichoor, literally meaning crushed pearls. This is because the boondis in it are very small, juicy and soft, and the ladoo crushes if held too hard.
In the historic Ghantewala Halwai sweet shop in Chandni Chowk (since 1790), the motichoor laddu comes close to perfection. Made in desi ghee and garnished with melon seed, it dissolves the moment it is popped into the mouth.
Slipped out of its paper case, the centre never holds – the boondis fall apart, and you end up feeling thankful to the gods for such sweetness clutched in your palm.
Sweeten your mouth
i heard about this mithaai shop in William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns. Went there to seek a Pakistani punjabi mithaai (called ‘Tosha’ ) that i loved to eat wjile i grew up in a small sleepy indian border town called Fazilka (Fazilka’s elders are refugees from gujranwala and pakpattan , west punjab ). Not only didthe Ghantawaaala people not have that mithaai, they had the temerity to sarcastically claim that i can’t get that mithaai from India . They were also rude and I expected a better ambience and much better sohan halwa that i was provided. 200 year old shop ,huh ?
looks like you had a brush with reality…most of the ‘purani dukanwallahs’ are like that.
Thank goodness for all the malls,hypermarkets and convenience stores that seem to be supplanting the traditional Indian ‘dukaan’. Entire generations have grown up not knowing what it is like to have a decent shopping experience. Back in the old days, you were supposed to stand on the wrong side of the counter and take what the dukanwallah handed out to you in his infinite benevolence. You had to take it or leave it. The average customer had very little to choose from. Add to that the snide remarks,the condescending behavior and disingenuous manner of the dukanwallah. It was the antithesis of what one expects nowadays.
I really hope all those terrible shopkeepers are crushed beneath the triumphant march of the new crop of customer-friendly stores. I would love to watch them squirm and squeal( does that make me a bad person?)
I think, not the shopkeepers, but only their anti-customer attitude should be crushed, but their products and stores should still be available for future generations to enjoy.
Too bad mate … u had GHANTA (crappy) experience with GHANTA-wala … they are just proving their name.
There seems to be a tradition among sweet shops all over India for rudeness. Grand Sweets in Chennai was famous for the quality of it sweets and the rudeness of the staff. One theory I have is that ruder the store staff, the higher the expectation of quality in the customer population.
Like the Soup Nazi in New York, we have Sweets Nazis in India.
ha ha ha … amazing logic …
@MAS: Bhai, re: your comments int related post about “City Food – Mathura ka Peda, Kucha Pati Ram” that no food is named after Delhi … could the following pass as food named after Delhi ..
Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani invented by Moti Mahal in Daryaganj founded by Kundan Lal Gujral (which was once the only restaurant of Old Delhi) or Devi ke Kulche (not sure about this one???)
Another notable modern restaurant is Chor Bizarre near Delite cinema, which serves Kashmiri cuisine. 
In addition to this, Darya Ganj is known to all Delhiites for the food you can get here. From the Baniyaan of Gupta ji, to Devi ke Kulche,
waaaaah Bhai waah,moonh meetha ker lo ji 🙂
Looking scrumptious. It almost looks like one could reach into the screen and pull a fresh laddu out from your pic. Thanks for tempting the readers so much 🙂
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