Traditional drinks and ice-creams are still a cool option for most residents of the city
Delhi summers, particularly during the months of May and June, are notorious for the sweltering heat. As the sun blazes down relentlessly, the hot and dry winds sap out whatever vestiges of energy remain. Air conditioners may be the preferred route of escape, but they are of little use if you have to be out and about in the heat.
But luckily, for the hapless traveller, Delhi abounds in multiple options to beat the heat, all of which hark back to the days of yore. Street vendors selling traditional coolants like shikanji, jaljeera and kulfi have not only survived the onslaught of time, but are in fact giving their western counterparts a run for their money. And some are better known than others.
Chand Behari, co-owner of the famous Pandit Ved Prakash Lemon Wale opposite Town Hall in Chandni Chowk, says, “Our shop is open from 10 in the morning till 10 at night, and we serve hundreds of people daily. March, April and May are our busiest months, but if the heat persists people throng the shop well up to July.” Such is the popularity of this nondescript shop that at any given time there is a long snaking queue of customers, as people prefer to wait in the scorching heat than nip elsewhere.
The famous rabri falooda shop on Fatehpuri Road is another testament to customer loyalty. Going by the name of Giani — not to be confused with the famous ice cream chain ‘Giani's'— it was founded more than 50 years ago by Giani Gurcharan Singh. His son, the present owner, Paramjeet Singh, estimates, “I am sure we serve at least 500 people every day in the summers.” Surinder Kumar, who has been coming to the shop for nearly 30 years, says, “Whenever I am in the vicinity, I make it a point to stop by for rabri falooda.”
The relatively newer Amritsari Lassi Wala, opposite the Fatehpuri Masjid, has also managed to cast a spell on its customers. It boasts an eclectic mix of yogurt-based drinks on its menu. From the traditional namkeen lassi to the new-age banana lassi, you can find them all.
While Old Delhi may be teeming with many such roadside kiosks, New Delhi does not lag far behind. For most Delhiites the word kulfi is synonymous with Roshan di Kulfi. Located in the busy Karol Bagh market, it has developed a cult following of its own. Nehru Place is another hot spot that will never leave you parched.
While it may not rate high on historicity, it definitely scores with the number of fruit juice vendors it houses. No fancy faloodas there; just good old mausambi juice.
Another summer trend that is particularly popular with the youth is the ‘chuski' — flavoured ice. With just a cart to pull, the chuskiwalla can be increasingly spotted all around the city. Vineeta Shankar, a student of Delhi University, says, “Chuskis are perfect for the summer and they are also fun to eat.”