An accidental discovery of Ram Swarup Halwai turns out to be thrilling because of their andarsey ki goli
When the sky got covered by dark grey clouds, forecasting a downpour, I got the sudden urge to eat some sweets. And of course that meant I had to trek down to Chandni Chowk – rain or no rain. For some days I had, anyway, been thinking about Kishan Lal Halwai, who was a legendary sweet maker of the area. Every evening, he used to come with huge platters of sweets and sit in front of the Mercantile Bank – and the sweets would get over even before you could say burfi. I used to go there to eat his sweets, but didn't know that he had an established sweetshop as well.
Then, a few days ago, I got to know about the whereabouts of the shop — and went looking for it. But I was in for some disappointment. I went through a maze of lanes and discovered that the halwai's family shuts shop and goes away to Haridwar for two months every summer. Kishan Lal, of course, is no more – but I learnt from the locals that the sweets were as good as ever.
That, of course, was not enough to control my urge for sweets. So I meandered some more till I reached Ram Swarup Halwai's shop in Bazaar Sita Ram. I took a circuitous route to get there, but I would suggest that you take the Metro and get down at Chawri Bazaar stop. Go down Bazaar Sita Ram and some 300 metres down the road you will find the sweetshop on your left. There is no sign board but it's a double-fronted shop.
Now run by two brothers, Ajit and Anil Mittal, it has been around for 72 years. What's interesting is that it makes a sweet which has almost disappeared from shops and kitchens. This is known as andarsey ki goli, and is specially prepared and eaten during the rains. It's a crunchy puff of a sweet with a coating of sesame seeds, and a filling of powdered rice, sesame and sugar.
They are so rare to find these days that my heart leapt up with joy when I saw them. The brothers were equally happy when I identified the sweet. “Bhaisaab, it appears that you are from Old Delhi,” one of them said. I had to say no to that, though my heart does belong to the area, even if the body doesn't. I went on to place an order for the sweet, paying Rs.35 for quite a good helping. Surprisingly, the sweet remained crunchy even hours later, despite the muggy weather.
In the mornings, you can eat your bedmi sabji there (Rs.8 for two). The potato vegetable is different because they don't skin the tuber, which lends a nice taste (apart from a whole lot of nutrients) to the sabzi, served with pickled carrots and green chillies. You can also ask for nagori halwa, which is a crisp semolina puri, not much bigger than a golgappa, with halwa stuffed into it (Rs.5 for two). In the evenings, they serve samosas and kachoris for Rs.5.
I went back home happy – and welcomed the rains with a sweet made especially for the season. The pitter-patter outside was almost as musical as the crunchy sounds inside.