Sweet and tangy

SPICE BOYS The Vaishnav Chaat Bhandar at Kamla Nagar serves up varied fare PHOTO Sandeep Saxena

SPICE BOYS The Vaishnav Chaat Bhandar at Kamla Nagar serves up varied fare PHOTO Sandeep Saxena  

The great thing about Vaishnav Chaat Bhandar is that it serves authentic U.P.-style chaat that is not overly spiced, says RAHUL VERMA

I used to run a film society in the University of Delhi in the 1980s. The society is no longer there - and some unkind filmwallahs blame me for it - but I had a great time while I was there. For one, I saw some of the best European cinema of the time. And, for another, I was introduced to Vaishnav Chaat Bhandar. Since the films were mostly screened in the afternoons, I had to look around for something to eat once the show was over. Chaat is a good thing to have in the evening, but going all the way to Chawri wasn't a viable option. And I certainly wasn't going anywhere near Bengali Market or Shahjahan Road for the thing they call chaat there. I have strong views on the subject, and once I start, I tend to go on. I suppose it was to stop me from holding forth on that favourite subject of mine - how you can't beat the chaat that you get in Purani Dilli - that a friend introduced me to Vaishnav Chaat Bhandar. Readers of the column would remember that the Chaat Bhandar is right opposite Sharma's restaurant, the vegetarian eatery we talked about last week.

Vaishnav Chaat Bhandar has fed generations of DU students. But most students these days tend to hang around Bungalow Road for their meals. I would strongly urge them to try Vaishnav Chaat Bhandar out. Take Bungalow Road and move towards the Police Station. The last turning to the left into Kamla Nagar will lead you to Vaishnav Chaat Bhandar. Follow the carpets - for there are quite a few tent-wallahs there (but why do tent-shop owners put their carpets out for an airing only in the rainy season?) and you will reach Vaishnav Chaat Bhandar.

The great thing about this place is that it serves you the authentic UP-style chaat - sweet and tangy, but not overly spiced. When Delhi's Hindu traders first started moving out of their ancestral homes in the Walled City, many of them settled in Kamla Nagar and adjoining areas. And that, I suppose, explains why some of the restaurants there serve good Dilli and U.P. vegetarian food.

You get all kinds of things in Vaishnav Chaat Bhandar - from golgappas, papri, tikki aloo, aloo chaat to chillas and pav bhaji. They have a good range in kulfis, too - matka kulfi, kulfi falooda and the works.

They serve vegetarian meals as well. Before the non-University types start looking for accommodation in Kamla Nagar, let me tell you that I am giving my student-readers - who have been subject to a series on north Delhi - a break.

Next week, we shall move out of the university and look for food elsewhere. All my university friends have been giving me smug looks - and I have to let them know that there is a world outside the university.

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