Winter is here and so are historical walks in and around Old Delhi. Many of these early chilly morning walks end at Shiv Mishthan Bhandar on Kucha Ghasi Ram, the road leading up to Red Fort. Breakfast in that part of town is synonymous, mostly, with their bestselling bedmi poori and Nagori halwa.
The best antidote to exhaustion from navigating the bylanes is a plate of these crisp pooris made with atta and urad dal, to be dunked into spicy aloo and chhole curries on the side, and completed with halwa in a small, crispy, crumbly puri/golgappa made with suji and ghee. With every bite, time seems to slow down. From snacks to sweets, the (open) secret is the use of desi ghee in all their dishes, claims Yogesh Yadav, 47.
The beginning of the shop was humble. It was started by Mohar Singh Yadav in 1910, who migrated from Harayana to the Walled City. After him, his son Om Prakash and then grandson Yogesh took charge.
A plate of Bedmi poori and aloo back in the day would be sold at Rs 3-5. Today, it costs Rs 90. Yadav mentions, with a flourish, that he once personally delivered jalebis to LK Advani’s residence, and their clientele boasted of Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The shop recently was featured in the Hindi film Rajma Chawal (2018), where actor Rishi Kapoor is shown gorging on bedmi poori-aloo and Nagori halwa. With his refusal to hand out autographs, Kapoor disappointed the excited staffers, who mostly hail from Uttar Pradesh, and have been working at the shop for 30-40 years.
The shop, which stays open from 8 am to 8 pm all through the week, and which could once accommodate around 60 people, now caters to 30 in a day, owing to declining footfall. With the Metro construction nearby and demonetisation, Yadav says business has suffered. “Chhay baje ke baad customer hote hi nahin (There are no customers after 6 pm these days),” he says.
(Gajraj Singh is an intern with The Indian Express)