Going by the crowd it attracts, RAHUL VERMA visits Mittra Chholey Bhaturey in Mayur Vihar Phase I and is certainly not disappointed

I have coined a maxim that I follow diligently when it comes to matters relating to food. “Have crowd, will eat” works without fail. If there is a crowd before a food stall, it tells you two things: One, the food is good (because of which there is a crowd there). And two, the food is fresh (a food seller has to buy new ingredients to be able to provide food for the crowds).

So it was a crowd that caught my eye when I was in Mayur Vihar Phase 1 some months ago. They stood in front of a small shop selling chholey-bhaturey and waited patiently while a junior cook fried fluffy bhatureys in hot oil in a kadhai. I was in a hurry, so I marked the place in my mental to-do diary, and drove off — promising to return.

I went back there earlier this week and was disappointed to see that the place wasn’t as crowded as I’d thought it would be. The Metro is building a track right in front of the shop, which has restricted access to it. So while the old faithful do drop by for a plate or two of chholey-bhaturey, the floating janta, which was once a part of the shop’s bustling business, doesn’t stop by any more, thanks to the Metro.

The shop is called Mittra Chholey Bhaturey, and the address is 180, Pratap Nagar, opposite Pocket 4, Mayur Vihar Phase 1 and near the Mayur Vihar Metro Station (phone: 22753222 and 9911842222). The place is run by one Mr Arora, who was busy devouring a plate of chholey and rice when I went there at around 11 in the morning. The place is open only till the afternoon, and serves chholey-bhaturey and chholey-chawal for Rs.30 a plate.

I asked for some chholey-bhaturey to be packed, so that I could have them for lunch with my friends. The cook slapped the bhatureys into shape between the palms of his hand, and then dunked them in the hot oil. They came out soft and bubbly, and remained soft even when I ate them almost two hours later. The chholeys were a bit different from the kind that you get in, say Bengali Market or Gole Market. Dark and spicy, but not floating in oil or ghee. When you get your food packed from there (and a lot of people in the neighbourhood seem to do that) Mr Arora likes to pack individual portions of chholey for each plate. “That way people don’t fight for the chholey when they have it later,” he says.

I liked the fact that Mr Arora was eating at his own stall. That indicated to me that the food was good. And indeed, when I had the chholey-bhaturey later, I found it rather nice. I enjoyed the spicy taste of the chholey, and when I added a dollop of the green chutney that he had packed with the chholey (along with some rings of spicy onions) to it, the chholey tasted even better. I wiped my portion of the chholey with the last of the bhaturas and heaved a happy sigh.

I hope the Metro doesn’t ruin Mr Arora’s business, but brings in more chholey-bhaturey aficionados to his shop. Last year, when he opened the shop, it was bursting at the seams with people. I hope the stream returns.

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