The search for the elusive rabriwallah of Janpath yields results this time
A food writer's job is a tough one. Some readers may think that life is all about bedmi aloo in the morning, kababs at noon, biryani and korma for lunch, kachoris for tea, shorshe maach for dinner and daulat ki chaat for dessert. Let me tell you it's not true. I eat all this, no doubt, but never on the same day (as far as I can remember!). The job is tough because not only do I have to keep a strip of Digene with me at all times, I have to also be on the lookout for something new. And remember, I am out on the streets in summer and winter, in the rain and slush — all for that tasty bit of morsel that I can write about.
This is my answer to a retired High Court Chief Justice, who is a reader of this column and has asked (through a friend) that I look for something new. And this column is dedicated to him, for I have indeed found something new. And that's the rabriwallah I went looking for in vain last week.
For those who came in late, I have to explain that I had been told (by a chatty driver) about a rabriwallah somewhere near Janpath who sold the most delicious rabri. I went there one blistering afternoon and didn't find him.
The chatty driver (henceforth to be known as CD) was most upset and gave a guided tour of the area where the rabriwallah usually sat. It was too early for him that day, so I returned the next day — following CD's directions to a T — and found Suraj Mal Ram Chander.
Truth be told, they have been around for over 40 years. Originally from Moradabad, the rarbi sellers, also called Gupta caterers, are based in Pahar Ganj. Suraj Mal sets up his khoncha at a busy spot behind Janpath at around 1, and carries on till 3 or 4 p.m. You can find him on the lane that connects Kasturba Gandhi Marg to Janpath. This is the lane which has all those touristy places such as Don't Pass Me By and Anand Restaurant. You'll find the rabriwallah near an LIC office.
The cold rabri is in a steel container, and next to in a bigger container he keeps home-made ice-cream. In small bowls, he puts a scoop of ice-cream, and then tops it with the cold rabri. A small helping is for Rs.20, and a larger one for Rs.30. I bought a kilo of ice-cream and rabri. He asked for Rs. 330 for a kilo but suddenly decided to bring it down to Rs. 300.
I must say the rabri-ice cream was excellent. The rabri was creamy and soft, and went well with the ice-cream, which tasted like kulfi. Some may find it a little too sweet, but I loved it, as did the friends I ate it with. I put the leftovers in the fridge, and ate some a day later. By that time the ice-cream had melted, and that I thought was even nicer. It'd turned into a creamy kheer with rabri.
I have to thank CD for this. And I must also thank the Justice for egging me on. After all, it's this interest that keeps a food writer going. Winter, spring, summer or fall.
Keywords: food writer