City Food – Kachori, Around Town
Puff with pizazz.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
In South Delhi’s Mehrauli bazaar, close to the Mughal-era monument Zafar Mahal, the Sohan Lal eatery opens at first light. Out of sheer habit, the local residents start gathering outside for its famed kachori-subzi.
Since this 60-year-old establishment is not more than a hole in the wall, the stuffed kachoris are deep-fried on the street. There are two tables behind the counter but customers prefer to have their breakfast al fresco.
Filled with a mixture of urad daal and besan, the kachoris puff up like balloons and are served on squares of old newspaper. The accompanying subzi, a thick potato curry with the tart flavour of amchoor, is served with a blob of yoghurt.
A freshly fried kachori has a savoury flavour that can’t be described. What is it? Daal? Roasted cumin seeds? Coriander? A bit of all of this and something more…
Kachoris are not the same all over town. At the 40-year-old Shiv Kachori Stall, adjacent to a temple close to Dilli Gate in Daryaganj, they sell small, thick and crisp kachoris filled with moong daal. The subzi has no onion or garlic but the combination of spices (it has three kinds of salt) gives it a rich flavour.
No longer a common sight, the mobile kachoriwallas are vendors cycling through neighbourhoods with metal containers on either side of their cycle. They pedal around town till the evening, or until the kachoris finish.
In North Delhi’s Civil Lines, a mobile kachoriwalla appears daily in front of St Xavier’s School. So popular are his kachoris that they are devoured within three hours of his arriving there.