City Food – Mr Gupta’s Carrot Halwa, M Block, Connaught Place
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s easy to sense the shift of seasons in Delhi. Summer starts when Amaltas trees bloom with golden yellow flowers. While the arrival of the winter in the city is registered when Gupta Sweets begins serving gaajar halwa.
The teeny-weenie Connaught Place (CP) shack serves a number of desserts including gulab jamun and ras malai. The founder-owner Sajan Lal Gupta, 53, himself prepares all these dishes. They are all tasty, especially his gaajar halwa that made its annual return to the stall just last week.
“The halwa is the first thing I cook,” asserts the UP native, explaining that he makes all the desserts afresh every night. Mr Gupta lives in Aaram Nagar with his two sons. While the boys sometimes substitute for their father in the stall, they have different career plans and “I think I’ll be alone running this 38-year-old business for the rest of my life.”
Mr Gupta gets his daily supply of carrots from a vegetable mandi near New Delhi railway station. “My sons grate the gaajar during the day to lessen my work load.” By the time he returns home, Mr Gupta is ready to rustle out the halwa, a laborious endeavor “since I have to keep stirring the mix in the karahi.”
The stall’s cold season specialty also stands out because unlike the versions produced in big mithai shop chains, it tastes homely—as if your own papa or chacha had made the halwa to surprise the family. It’s obviously much better than papa’s or chacha’s because Mr Gupta is no amateur. Indeed, his gaajar halwa is a most suitable accessory to our city’s brief winter.
The dish shall disappear from the stall by Holi early next year. It opens daily in CP’s M Block, Outer Circle. Sunday is closed.
Cold season pleasure