City Food – Jain Lunch, Vaishali
A home-made meal with the Jalebiwallas.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Jalebi is in the air in Vaishali.
The family The Delhi Walla is visiting descends from Nemchand Jain, the man who founded the legendary Old & Famous Jalebiwalla in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk, in the early decades of the last century. Praveen, 60, is his grandson.
One of Nemchand Jain’s many descendents, his ties to the establishment are familial, not commercial. In fact, he doesn’t even live in Old Delhi. His home is in suburban Ghaziabad.
I’m sharing lunch with Praveen’s wife and children. Praveen explains that the last member of his clan lived in the 80-room family haveli on Gali Khajanchi, in the Walled City, until he died in May 2017.
Praveen, an “electrical contractor” with an office in Daryaganj, moved to Vaishali in 2003. He says that Nemchand arrived in Delhi from a village in UP. The legend is that he walked all along Chandni Chowk, until finally, standing at the turning to Dariba Kalan street, he decided to set up a channa stall on that spot. The jalebis came later.
“Though many of us have diverted to other businesses, all our 50 families are known as the Jalebiwalla pariwar,” he says.
Praveen’s children have strayed far from the world of their great grandfather. His son, Prateek, works with an industry body in South Delhi. His daughter, Charu, is in the human resources team of a Gurgaon-based multinational firm.
Lunch is served. There is karhi chawal, besan ki roti and dry aloo subzi tossed with whole coriander seeds. No garlic or onion, of course—this is a conservative Jain household. The dessert is delicious but I’m in for a surprise—it’s not jalebi.
Pleasure of domestic dining table