City Food – Deepak Namkeen and Papad Store, Subzi Mandi, Gurgaon
The world of salty savouries.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
You might never know the names of all the birds, or all the flowers, or all the trees, or all the constellations in the sky. But to learn the names of a great variety of namkeen is doable.
Just head to Deepak Namkeen and Papad Store in Gurgaon’s Subzi Mandi in the Greater Delhi Region. The counter is crammed with a dizzying range of the salty savouries. These days one is used to packaged namkeen, sold in every common grocery and coming in fairly limited versions (sev puri, khatti meeethi, aloo bhujiya, etc.). But seeing so many versions available in this tiny shop shall make you respect the namkeen a great deal more, and start considering it as a subject worthy of scholarly interest.
The young man at the counter laughs on being challenged to name all the flavours. He then utters them out in one single breath. For fun’s sake, you too can utter aloud these names in one single breath—masala seviyan, navratan mixture, mushroom mixture, aloo bhujiya, khatti meethi, kanpuri mixture, tasty (yes, that’s the name, and it’s made of peanuts), matar mixture, cornflakes mixture, gathia, sangam, plain bhujiya, ajwain sev, and bhuna kaju.
Some of the names are quite logical—mushroom mixture has mushroom as key ingredient, and cornflakes mixture has cornflakes. But some names are mystifying—why is kanpuri mixture called Kanpuri and not Lucknowi, the other big city close to Kanpur?
At least there’s no mystery to the shop’s name. Deepak Namkeen was christened after the young man sitting in the shop, and was founded by his father 35 years ago. “But it began as an aloo-pyaaz ki dukaan (shop)… 10 years ago we turned it into a namkeen store,” says Deepak Kumar. Sitting with young friend Vikas, he insists that there’s nothing industrial about the namkeen here, and that all the varieties are made in their own “godaam” in sector 7.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the tastiest namkeen among so many choices. Even a professional food critic might be at a loss to give a judicious verdict. But do try out the one named “tasty”. It is really tasty. The shop opens daily from 8am to 9pm.
Republic of namkeen