On our expedition for a breakfast of nihari yesterday, Abhik and I chanced upon one of the true hidden gems of Delhi’s street food — Daulat ki chaat.
I’d already been tipped off about this by a Rahul Verma column from some time back, so when Abhik and I passed by an inconspicuous vendor with flies and the local cognoscenti buzzing around a demure white platter perched on a three-legged contraption, I knew better than not to screech to a halt.
(and before you hygiene freaks turn up your snotty little noses, the platter was well covered with a muslin cloth, so only the cognoscenti and not the flies actually got a taste of the goods.)
Daulat ki Chaat (or Malaai Makkhan, as it is called in U.P.) is not a tangy treat of the sort the word chaat evokes. This incredible little dish is made up almost entirely of air: it is essentially just milk froth. They start making it at about 2 o’clock at night, and insist that their only contribution is to churn some creamy milk and whip up its froth — the rest is the magic of the winter dew. This whipped froth of milk is set in a large brass pan, and some khoya and finely sliced pista are sprinkled on top. The entire delicate ensemble is brought to the market in the morning on a khomcha (a cane tripod), where if you ask nicely, the man will scoop out a generous portion of the froth, powder it with bhoora (unrefined sugar) and khurchan, and hand it to you in a little leaf bowl. A spoonful of it just vanishes in the mouth, and has a very sophisticated, understated sweet taste to it.
Any reasonable person would demand a princely sum for such an ethereal treat. Yet in the by-lanes of Shahjahanabad, a dona of Daulat ki Chaat sets you back by exactly 10 bucks!
We were lucky to catch this vendor on our way from Hauz Qazi Chowk (where the Chawri Bazaar metro station is) to the Jama Masjid. His normal beat is Kinari Bazaar, close to the Dariba area of Chandni Chowk, but he probably starts in the morning from the Hauz Qazi area — we were there at about 8:30am. If you ever manage to catch the elusive Daulat ki Chaat vendor, give him a miss at your own eternal loss!
Location: Kinari Bazaar has at least a couple of vendors, including one (Khemchand Adesh Kumar) at the corner of a cul de sac called Naughara — an official heritage site with beautifully ornamented entrances to well-preserved havelis. I have mapped this location here.
Timings: Winter mornings till about 10 am.