Fried and tested

The battle for Delhi’s most taste-loaded chhola bhatura

Published - May 03, 2019 02:44 pm IST

People seen enjoying Chhole Bhature at Chache Di Hatti in Kamla Nagar

People seen enjoying Chhole Bhature at Chache Di Hatti in Kamla Nagar

The case for Chache di Hatti

When it comes to chhole bhature in Delhi every Mohit, Rohit and Purohit fashions themselves into a connoisseur. Fawning over their neighborhood Halwais and swearing by Sharmaji ki dukaan just because they’ve got a bit of an Instagram following. Contenders and pretenders may come and go but there’s always been only one true king of chhole bhature in the Capital: Chache di Hatti (CDH) in Kamla Nagar.

The first rule at CDH: You don’t queue up, you don’t eat. No unruly elbow-jab fest like some petty halwai in Lajpat Nagar. Of course, Chache has a separate women’s queue and dear ladies, I’m more than happy to hold your handbag, fetch a banta or buy you flowers, while you zip past the loners for our plates.

Howsoever you make it to counter, you have about 30 seconds to make up your mind. Aloo-wale Chhole Bhature (recommended), Sada Chhole Bhature, Chhole Kulche and Chhole. All of it priced under a collective sum of Rs. 200. You can specify extra or no chutney, extra or no onions, a piece of aloo (also recommended), and if you’d like your Bhaturas ‘karaare’ i.e crispier. The order is handed to you almost immediately without the gratuitous ‘tokens’ you see elsewhere.

Now, you’re ready to appreciate what separates Chache di Hatti from the Sharmajis of the world. Golden and cratered bhature with a gossamer layer of crispness and a puffy body, which billows steam as you tear in. Pindi chana in a light yet punchy masala sparkling with anaardana, tea leaves and home ground spices which will gently give as you pinch a piece of bhatura around. Chache di Hatti is the real deal my friend, the rest is just chana chowder and fried things.

Amit Patnaik will never take a break from street food, come hell, high-water, or hepatitis

The case for Sharmaji

Cholley Bhatture shop at Moolchand

Cholley Bhatture shop at Moolchand

I’ve been going to Sharmaji for years. This is one cholle bhature that stands out in Delhi. It’s not the darkish Pindi style but the Pahadi-style red-coloured variety. Sharmaji started selling cholle on his cycle near Frank Anthony’s in the late ‘70s and moved to Moolchand sometime in the ‘80s. Above him thundered the Metro.

It was heartbreaking to see him close shop in Moolchand, but thankfully he’s found a new place in the nearby Guru Nanak market. The stuff remains as stellar as it used to be. The bhature properly made from fermented dough unlike oversized pooris that some places pass off as bhature. Chache di Hatti in Kamala Nagar does a proper bhatura, but the cholle, though classic Pindi style, leaves a lot to be desired. I was very surprised to see the big lines in front of Chache. Maybe they hadn’t heard of Sharmaji. The next time I will personally stand in the queue and evengelise.

For me the highlight of Sharmaji’s is the Pahadi cholle and the homemade carrot pickle that they give alongside. Come summer and a bit of raw mango gets added to the pickle. Sharmaji is originally from Kangra in Himachal and his three sons now run the show. May the force be with them, may they own the streets, and may they continue to serve up generations, even as food critics (served by PR pros) in five-star restaurants, abound.

Chowder Singh has made a career out of eating cholle bhature and Khushboo Idli and sharing them on social media

Where we pit two iconic Delhi things against one another

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