Sita Ram Diwan Chand, Paharganj, New Delhi
Contributed by Amit Uppal
There are numerous stories around us of people who grew into legends in their respective fields. Some perished, while others became a part of history. When it comes to food, ‘saadi dilli’ can boast of many such instances. There are many such places, particularly in the older parts of Delhi, where people had set up their shops decades back and are still serving the same wares, maintaining the same taste and quality, year after year.
I had heard a lot about Sita Ram Diwan Chand’s Chhole Bhature. Located in Pahar Ganj, they are what the Delhiites call the “best chhole-bhature” known to them. Sita Ram Diwan Chand’s little venture began in 1947 when Diwan Chand, after migrating from Pakistan post-partition, had come to Delhi with nothing but the recipe of chhole bhature with him. The father (Diwan Chand) and son (Sita Ram) duo used to sell their wares on a push cart in Pahar Ganj for almost 30 years, till they opened up a shop in Pahar Ganj, their present location.
All of us have grown up on chhole bhature, and must have eaten them at a hundred different places – some excellent, some good, and some avoidable. But when you know that there’s a place that caters to movie stars, leading industrialists and the like, you’re bound to pay a visit. That’s what took me to Sita Ram Diwan Chand, and all the stories about them were confirmed. Not too big, Sita Ram Diwan Chand is located on Rajguru road, close to both the Imperial Cinema in Paharganj and New Delhi Railway Station. As you approach the shop hordes of people can be seen thronging to the little entrance. There’s no seating inside, but waist high metal tables where people stand and eat. The interiors are nothing to talk about, however they do seem to make an effort to keep the area clean and tidy.
The bhaturas (soft and fluffy deep-fried bread, made of white flour, yogurt, clarified butter/oil) are semi-cooked at another location, and are re-heated before serving. Now, one might sneer at that, but they actually taste great. Each bhatura includes shreds of paneer (cottage cheese), fresh coriander, pomegranate seeds, fennel and spices that are mixed into the dough for the bhaturas.
Chickpeas, also known as Garbanzo Beans are the most commonly consumed legumes in the world. During the First World War, they were used as a substitute for coffee in some parts of Germany. Other than the taste, chickpeas have a lot of medicinal qualities as well. They are quite effective in lowering of cholesterol; preventing diabetes & heart diseases and prevention of kidney stones.
The chhole (chickpeas in a spicy curry, cooked Punjabi style) just as brilliant, perhaps better. The recipe has been handed down through the generations and their mantra is, ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’. The chhole at Sita Ram Diwan Chand comes with loads of spices and flavors and tastes delightful. In fact it’s so good, I wouldn’t mind eating just the chhole, even without the bhaturas. The combo is served with pickled mango, onions and green chilies. The chhole contain chunks of potatoes, that taste lovely too.
Price? It’s a meager 28 rupees for one plate, but your bill is sure to go beyond that, because you can’t have just one plate! BTW: Sita Ram Diwan Chand have ‘heat and eat’ packs as well.