City Food – Green Chilli Pakoras, Gurgaon Railway Station
Hot and delicious.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It is a universally acknowledged truth that food always looks tastier than it truly is to hungry passengers in railway stations waiting for their expresses and mails. So one must consider recommendations about railway station snacks with a pinch of salt, or in this case, with a fistful of green chillies. A snack cart in the National Capital Region’s Gurgaon railway station rustles out the most punchy green chilli pakoras. Ever. They are so fiery that they almost make you sweat with their heat. They keep you on a delicate borderline between enjoying the taste and feeling your brains about to blow out of your head.
Or could this taste be a deception? This afternoon, every element in the station is conspiring to make things so conducive to the senses that even sawdust might taste like delicious sabudana.
It’s raining non-stop (which is the ideal weather to consume pakoras), travellers are hurrying about in all directions, trains are appearing after regular intervals, and the rain can be heard pattering on the station’s tin shed. It’s all very romantic.
But the cart’s green chillies are popular even before and after the rains. The cooks—Sameer Gujjar and Dinesh Sharma—find it to be such a best-seller that they dedicate a big container just to store these pakoras. There are onion pakoras too, but they look pathetically soggy against the firmness of their green chilli counterparts. “They move so quickly that we keep making fresh stock every couple of hours,” says Mr Gujjar.
The cooks cover the pakoras with a beautiful cotton cloth to protect them from dust and flies. Potential customers are able to treat their eyes to a glimpse of pakoras through the fine cloth making these fritters look more elegant than—let’s face it—they can ever hope to be.
The cart, too, is picturesque, with its glass panels decked with posters of gods that have faded over the many seasons, giving the cart a kind of vintage look.
The stall is parked on platform 1, close to the main entrance. Come anytime between 5am and 10pm. Make sure to have the pakoras with a yummy green chutney comprising of pudina, palak and green chillies. The pakoras don’t travel well, alas, so consume them at the station.
Railway station snack