Monsoon Fare: Baba Nagpal’s Channe Bhature

Then again, how can a monsoon visit to Delhi be considered rewarding without sampling some of its celebrated street fare? The by lanes of the capital city offer a plethora of such sensual delights. Of these, the channe-bhature of Baba Nagpal in Amar Colony, are second to none. Unless, I were to count that nameless hole-in-the-wall frequented during childhood at the end of the Tope Khaana Mor lane in Patiala. For the longest time, a Sikh gentleman dressed in his trademark Pothwari shalwar had doled out the most appetizing channa-kulchas ever. (Where did he go, anyway? The spot is today marked by shops retailing inexpensive cloth.)

Anyhow, on this particular visit to Delhi, hosted by the sibling habitually anal about healthy eating habits, I was more than chuffed when her other half suggested a Sunday brunch catered by Nagpal’s. Which is not to say that their specialties are otherwise; merely implying that they are…umm… a tad hearty, with a generous sprinkling of, well, Punjabiness. Picking up the phone to place a call, I was summarily informed that the home delivery privilege had been taken away. Unfazed at this development, my brother-in-law and I braced ourselves for a drive to Lajpat Nagar while the rain beat down upon us. It was either that or toasted multi-grain bread topped by mozzarella, tomatoes and fresh basil with some fruity shake.

We merged with a motley crew, just as undeterred by the steady pour, which crowded the counter running along two sides of a corner shop, on a busy intersection of the Gupta Market. A standing-only, dine-in space was crowned by a grimy canopy announcing the absence of other branches. No complaints there; Nagpal’s hallmark light-bodied channe preparation with the softest of bhaturas, their insides dotted with paneer just so, draws devotees regardless. I am told their repertoire includes puri-channe, samosas and lassi as well but I have yet to venture there.

Collecting our large order (expecting guests), we squelched back to the car, holding hunger and impatience at bay till we got home, despite the enticing aromas wafting around us. We were soon joined by another pernickety sibling, her doctor hubby reared on boarding school pies and puddings, and a teenaged fusspot in the habit of prettily turning up her nose at everything that did not add up to fast food, the western way. That they all devoured every morsel on the table is very telling: well-prepared, fuss-free fare, high on plain good taste, will always be the key ingredients for a foodie box-office hit.

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