City Food – Snack Cart Pots, Mathura Road
The great Indian pateeli show.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
You would expect to find this kind of huge brass container on display in the museums on Rajasthan kings instead of a Delhi pavement stall. This pateeli for storing dishes dwarfs just about everything here on the busy Mathura Road, like a big object that fell from the sky.
“I had to pay 15,000 rupees for it,” says vendor Shiv Shankar, who sells chhole subzi and parathas all day long from his modest cart. “You can’t buy a pateeli like this anywhere in Delhi.”
This kind of utensil — if you’d call it that — is custom-made in UP factories in Moradabad and Meerut; and only rarely spotted at other snack carts that mainly caters to construction labourers along this stretch. You might discover similar eye-catching brass beauties in other parts of Delhi, but, without question, they’re definitely uncommon.
Curiosity compels a peek inside this particular pateeli. All that’s spotted is a kind of dark hollow, like watching the night sky in smoggy Delhi.
But wait, where’s the subzi? Staring more carefully, one spots a small aluminium pan. That’s the container for the chhola.
So, why display this giant brass container out here on the street in the first place?
Mr Shankar laughs. “It’s for show!”