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Shashank wasn’t impressed.
I was gushing on about Roshan di Kulfi of Karol Bagh, a place I’ve been visiting since I was that high, but it left Shashank cold. You see, Shashank runs a jewellery business of his own, with offices in both Karol Bagh and Chandni Chowk, and his appetite only exceeds his turnover. To put it mildly, he knows a thing or two about good food in both places.
So when he told me about his preference for the kulfi at Sitaram Bazaar, my interest was piqued. And when I heard the establishment called itself Duli Chand Naresh Gupta, I knew I just had to try it out.
Why, you ask? Clearly this wasn’t a place which had wasted money on expensive brand managers, developing a catchy name that rolled off the tongue like, well, a good kulfi. And let’s face it, the last time the name Gupta carried a cachet was when the Puranas were actually very taaza. So if a place could acquire fame operating from a little lane in puraani dilli, and with a name like that to boot, it just had to be darn good.
This was much earlier in the summer, and by now visiting Duli Chand’s shop has become a bit of a ritual any time I’m in the area. Getting there is easy — just get off at the Chawri Bazaar metro station, and when you emerge to the surface in Hauz Qazi Chowk, head for the street which, when moving clockwise, comes right after the Chawri Bazaar road (i.e. the road which leads to the Jama Masjid). That’s called Sitaram Bazaar. About 80 yards into the Bazaar, turn into the first lane on your right, and keep walking till you spot the shop on your left, about 100m into the lane.
The shop is spartan to a fault. A large freezer full of kulfi stands on one side, with half a dozen plastic chairs strewn on the other. The back is occupied by stacks of kullarhs, terra cotta cups in which kulfi is traditionally frozen. The kulfi is also served in its simplest form, unaccompanied by any falooda (vermicelli) or syrup.
But there’s nothing spartan about the kulfi itself, which is as creamy as it gets. When the pretenders in wedding pandals want to make their kulfis soft, they use some sort of oil, which leaves an icky aftertaste in the mouth. No such thing with Duli Chand. His staple offering, the kesar-pista kulfi has a rich full-bodied texture, and a healthy quantity of both saffron and pistachio that leaves you feeling very sated indeed.
But that’s hardly the only variety on offer. Depending on the season, you can get mango kulfi (highly recommended: tastes almost like creamy frozen mango), frozen fruit cream, and if you’re discreet and say the magic words “ek number waali“, you’ll get a mild-looking green-tinged kulfi laced with — yes, cannabis. The only flavour which I haven’t taken to is anaar (pomegranate), which tasted sickly sweet, like an artificially flavoured candy.
I’ve become quite a fan of Duli Chand’s kulfi. But that is not to say that Roshan wouldn’t be able to hold his own against him. Roshan’s kesar pista kulfi, served with falooda that somehow manages to complement both its taste and texture so nicely, is a contrast to Dhuli Chand’s unadorned version. I’ll just be happy knowing that I now have two favorites I can rely upon in two different parts of town!
Price: Varies depending on the flavour. Kesar Pista goes for about Rs. 20. Mango is twice as much.
Location: as described above. Also approximately marked on our Google map.
Timings: closes by about 9 o’clock at night.