On a wintery, sun-warmed day, few pleasures of life are sweeter than Singh sahab’s gajjar ka halwa. There is a gram of ghee for every ten grams of halwa. Probably why it tastes divine!
Singh sahab’s corner shop is tucked away in a dirty by-lane of Bhogal, just beyond Jangpura extension.
I was introduced to the kaleidoscope of this hidden world years ago. It started off with tagging along with Aunty to the Mangal Bazaar for weekly errands. Eventually it became ‘our’ thing. Her happiness to explore what’s new in the stores and my joy to experience purane sheher ka bazaar-haat. There’s something very India, very 1980s about the Mangal Bazaar. Bright, woollen salwar kameez ka kapda jostles for space with Made-in-China LED lights. The air is thick with the smell of aloo tikki and fresh jalebis. The whitest of mooli and the greenest of saag patta beckon you to taste winter in all its glory.
And just when you think that there’s not much to discover, voila! The aroma of freshly baking bread entices you from the Afghani bakery. I’ve often passed by Abdul’s shop, tempted by the warm loaves of yeasty goodness. But never really found it in me to stop and do justice to the cravings. Today however, the pull was irresistible. As we crossed the road, it was easy to see why his simple shop front was always three-deep crowded. They make just the naan roti! Just the one product. And just so delectable!
What’s not to like about salty, slightly chew, 100% fresh, hot-out-of-the-tandoor bread, I say! So a naan was bought. And the journey home was peppered with loud conversation debating the best accompaniment to the naan. Of course it had to be tea. Of course it had to be sweet, ginger tea, replete with creamy milk.
Every time I am in Bhogal, I seem to discover a Delhi that’s well-hidden in full parade. From the sardarjis who grace the chairs outside ancient cloth stores, to the Janghis who still make the best shalgam gobi ka achar this side of the border, this mini-world is teeming with life.