THE INEXPENSIVE WEALTHY CHAAT
By Prakriti Bhat
As Delhi’s winters give way to the scorching summer heat, we are all left to reminisce about the chilly months that went by. Dilli ki sardi is quite popular for its spine chilling (literally) dip in the temperature that forces you to snuggle inside a cosy blanket with a cup of tea or coffee. However, come winters and Delhites venture out of their homes to gorge on seasonal delicacies like Kadhai ka Doodh, piping hot Jalebis and Gajar Ka Halwa.
But what I, as a foodie, want Delhi to be famous for is Daulat Ki Chaat. A lesser known delicacy available only in winters, Daulat ki Chaat will make you fall in love with it instantly. Available exclusively in old Delhi, it is nothing like your regular chaat that tickles your palate with its spicy and tangy flavor. This one is sweet. Yes, Daulat ki Chaat is a dessert whose job is not to tease but to please! It is extremely light and can be eaten after a heavy meal. Unlike other Chaat items, this one soothes your senses.
Literally translating to ‘The wealthy chaat/snack’, Daulat ki Chaat is a product of hours of toil. The process is quite cumbersome as it takes several hours of manual labour. Milk and cream are churned together for 3-4 hours continuously. This causes a thick layer of foam to accumulate on the top which is carefully removed and collected in a separate dish. To a few parts, saffron is added which lends a yellow colour to it. This large dish (like a gigantic thali) is placed on a wooden stand as customers drop by to devour it.
In a plate this foam is taken, both the plain white and the saffron one, which are topped with Khoya and powdered sugar. After trying for 2 months, I finally got to taste this dish. All it took was a spoonful and I instantly knew that I had Nirvana on my plate! The texture is extremely soft. In fact, soft would be an understatement. The frothy texture melts in your mouth and the khoya and sugar make it a sweet and toothsome delight.
From November to mid March, Chandni Chowk hides several vendors of Daulat Ki Chaat in its sly and narrow alleyways. I tried it in two places in Chandni Chowk. One was in Katra Neel, outside Chanda Fashion. Anil Chand Kumar, the vendor prepares every plate with great care and expertise. Anil claims that 40 years ago his dadaji (grandfather) was the first one to bring Daulat Ki Chaat on the streets of Delhi-6. From November to March, he sells Daulat ki Chaat in Katra Neel and the rest of the year he works at his family’s shop- Baba Chaat Corner in Jogiwara, opposite to the Bhairon Temple. He served one plate for 50 rupees.
Another vendor, Hukum Singh stands bang opposite to Natraj Dahi Bhalle Wala from 9 a.m. every day. Hukum Singh hails from Moradabad, U.P. and learnt the art of making Daulat ki Chaat from his mamaji (maternal uncle) who has been selling it in Kinari Bazaar since the last 25 years. He started selling Daulat ki Chaat about 9 years ago. With a happy and content smile he says, “The process of churning goes on till about 3-3:30 in the morning. After holi, it becomes too hot for Daulat Ki Chaat as the foam begins to disintegrate. So I go back to my hometown where farming keeps me busy till the next October-November.” Here, one plate was for around 35-40 bucks.
Chandni Chowk has many mouth-watering dishes to offer. But things like Daulat ki Chaat go unnoticed. I hope this dessert does not fade away into oblivion, swallowed by the stiff competition from popular restaurants.
Another article on Daulat Ki Chaat – http://www.delhifoodwalks.com/blog/daulat-ki-chaat/