City Food – Devi Prasad’s Chai Stall, Paharganj
The ideal tea stop.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Finally found! The pavement chai shop that arguably serves the town’s very best chai.
But, first, let’s make something clear. There is no “best” chai shack in Delhi, because chai is not the deciding factor. Some of the most charming and atmospheric stalls can only rustle out average versions of tea.
But Devi Prasad’s stall in Paharganj, for all its moody setting, does arguably serve the best chai among shacks of its kind. It tends to be towards the stronger side but not too sweet. Yet it provides a cathartic sugar-high on an exhausted afternoon when you most need it.
Founded by Mr Prasad some 40 years ago, it doesn’t have the trappings of a regular tea shop either. Instead, you’ll spot clothes on hooks, and heavy suitcases piled up. “The stall is also my home, you see,” says Mr Prasad, 60. He points to a ladder leading upwards to a makeshift mezzanine floor serving as his bedroom.
One of the shop walls suggests a kind of interfaith harmony—plastered with frames of Hindu deities, along with a wall clock depicting the great mosque of Mecca.
His stall is open every day with generously long hours: from 6 am to 8pm. And he is popular enough that a great number of Paharganj’s Main Bazaar shopkeepers get their daily quota of chai from him.
The best chai shack