Once a father-son team that pushed its handcart to make a living by feeding people on the mean streets of Delhi, Sitaram Diwanchand is now a popular food joint in the sleazy area of Paharganj. Its popularity can be measured by the number of people you’ll see trying to find a spot to sit or stand and eat in the small restaurant at Chuna Mandi. I never thought I’d ever eat chhole bhature for breakfast, but bad vibes from Delhi can drive you to have a lot of maida (white flour) and greasy chhole (chickpeas) early in the morning.
It was a Saturday morning, and the city looks rougher on weekends, and people of all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life seemed to be at Sita Ram Diwan Chand (breaking it down made it easier for them to spell their name, I guess), anxiously waiting to grab a spot within seconds of it being vacated by a contented soul. Sitaram was the son’s name and Diwanchand the father’s, and they’ve left behind a business that will keep many generations of their family rich and happy till they succumb to greed and turn this damned legacy into a restaurant chain. Kidding.
What I saw that morning was two men behind a counter mixing chhole (okay – chana for you thickskulled Delhi-ites) with alu/aloo (potatoes) cooked in a thick masala paste. You get a plate of this combination with green chillies, thinly sliced onions and a pickle that changes every once in a while. I got amla (gooseberry) pickle. Then you move to the second counter where you get the bhaturas. The bhatura is made of maida and maida is what Delhi seems to love, because everywhere I went, I saw people devouring junk food made of maida. No wonder the whole city’s so damn slow.
It’s really good, this chhole bhature at Sitaram Diwanchand. It’s a nice blend of ingredients; the spices are not as bold as in the unauthentic chhole bhature you get in other cities, but a lot more pleasing to the tastebuds. I thought it wasn’t anything special and that I could have similar chane bhature at any chana-bhatura stall at any corner of any street in Delhi, but no – I had a craving for Delhi’s most famous chane bhature that very night, making Sitaram Diwanchand‘s chhole bhature the only Delhi food item that had lived up to the hype. Congratulations.