City Food – Triloki Kashyap’s Aloo Parathas, Palam Vihar
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Aloo paratha is no sushi. It’s accessible to all, cherished by many, and tasty and affordable enough to transcend every sort of social and economic divide. It makes for a dream democracy.
And an exceptionally delicious aloo paratha can be enjoyed at this unnamed pavement snack stall, just across the road from Palam Corporate Plaza in Gurgaon’s Palam Vihar in the Greater Delhi Region.
The crispy paratha is crammed most generously with aloo stuffing rich in a range of masalas, including green coriander leaves. The stall owner, Triloki Kashyap, 28, serves the paratha with a serving of super-yummy chhole decked up with a topping of chopped tomatoes, grated radish and a dash of lemon juice. His paratha looks golden-yellow because of the addition of turmeric powder in the aloo mash.
“Most of my customers are labour log (folks),” informs Mr Kashyap. This afternoon half a dozen men are assembled around the cart, one person is sitting on a bench—a narrow plank of painted wood balanced precariously along two cement blocks. All these men are construction workers employed in the area’s upcoming apartment complexes. They are eating quietly, until one of them suddenly starts humming a folksy song about a so-called “toot ka ped” of his native village. Mr Kashyap points out that the overhead tree is that same toot ke ped.
A native of Bareilly in UP, the paratha maker has been in the city for a decade. “I learned cooking from my saga (blood) brother Chandra Pal.”
Kneading a fresh set of dough, the busy man is simultaneously cooking the parathas on the sooty girdle as customers keep turning up. And now the diner on the bench is asking for neembu and another fellow demands a hari mirchi. Mr Kashyap attends to each promptly, his face dissolving intermittently into a shy smile. He serves daily from 8 am to 4 pm.
A democratic delicacy