City Food – Muhammed Afroz’s Bihari Jhaal Moori, Mathura Road
Taste of Bihar.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
No doubt there are even more superior jhaal moori snacks sold elsewhere in town. But Muhammed Afroz’s offerings are unique.
Just a year ago he came up with the idea of a snack cart instead of forever pulling a rickshaw. “Umar ka takaza hain. (I was getting too old for that!)” he explains.
This rainy afternoon, the 62-year-old is dragging his cart along a central Delhi avenue accompanied by his son. The stylish 6-year-old Zulkanain sports fashion accessories like black sunglasses perched high on his forehead.
And then those luscious snacks. This tempting version usually comprises spiced puffed rice mixed with tomato-onion tidbits—and spiked with a shot of mustard oil. But Mr Afroz also adds moong lentils and boiled chickpeas which, he claims, is standard practice in his native Bihar. “I’m from Araria.” A cloth banner on the cart calls his establishment as “Bihar ka Mashoor Jhaal Moori”.
A jhaal moori purist from Calcutta might recoil at Mr Afroz’s recipe, but his version is deliciously addictive; and there’s something more to the dish, knowing that it is permeated with the flavour of his day-to-day fight for survival.
Come nighttime the father and son have finally sold the daily output, returning to their home on a footpath where his wife awaits. She’ll be serving a piping hot meal of dal chawal.
Jhal moori living