City Food – Homely Punjabi Khana, Rajauri Garden
The taste of home… on the street.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
If you’re feeling so homesick, why don’t you try Sardarni Manjeet Kaur Dehal’s pavement food stall?
Aptly named “Ghar ka Punjabi Khanna”, this pavement eatery in West Delhi’s Rajauri Garden exudes the flavour of ghar, or home.
Start with Ms Dehal herself. She could as well be our bua or mausi — the kind of affectionate relative we inevitably meet in family weddings. A gentle God-fearing woman in salwar-suit, she is usually seen sitting on her chair, intoning sacred Sikh verses from Sukhmani Saheb ka Paath, if she isn’t so busy rolling out fresh parathas and rotis.
While Ms Dehal always has rajma, sookhe aloo ki subzi and boondi raita ready on her counter, she also prepares every day two other dishes. This afternoon, she gives The Delhi Walla a delicious karhi, with just the right degree of sourness. The eggplant subzi looks fine but I shall stay silent on it (I have an irrational aversion to baingan).
“Beta, I make simple homely khana (food) with very little oil and spices,” she tells me while rolling out a missi paratha.
Ms Dehal’s stall is just two years old. She lives in nearby Tagore Garden and wakes up every morning at 4.30 to prepare the day’s food (of course, she makes parathas and rotis fresh). She says that her husband has an important role in her working life. An auto rickshaw driver, he helps her in the cooking. He also drives her to her pavement spot in his auto, along with her dishes, gas range and cooking cylinder.
Ms Dehal’s regular customers include young people working in the surrounding offices. She calls them “mere bachche” — my kids. She sits outside Vardhman Plaza in J Block, Rajauri Garden, from 10 to 6, barring Sundays.
The true taste of a Punjabi table