Jain Sa’ab – the Gordon Ramsay of Daryaganj

I’m definitely developing a very pronounced culinary split personality. The past couple of weeks have  seen wall-to-wall macaroons and cupcakes for our recent Uparwali Chai tea party events: cake-stands piled high, pastries nibbled, Assam sipped and pinkies crooked over fine china cups.

Happily, I have a seriously sweet tooth but I’m definitely back in the mood for some savoury street fare. Just as well, then, that my friend Rahul Verma, who  writes about street food  for The Hindu newspaper, has decided to  revisit all his favourite old haunts.  Rahul first started writing about Delhi’s street food over 20 years ago,  so there’s a lot to look forward to over the next few months. Hurrah!

I’d hardly finished reading Monday’s piece about Jain Sa’ab’s Bedmi shop when I was in the car and heading to  Daryaganj.  A substantial street breakfast was just what I needed to set the right tone for the week and the wide, leafy streets of Daryaganj, dotted with colonial relics and publishing houses make a nice change from the teeming gullies of the old city.

One thing I’ve noticed about some of Delhi’s best street food is the quiet pride shown by the men who make it. No showy displays, no sweet-talking the customers, there’s an almost arrogant ‘take it or leave it’ confidence; here, the food does all  the talking.   Mr Jain is no exception, he has the intensity of a Gordon Ramsay. He watches  his two helpers like a hawk – everything has to be prepared just so – and takes no nonsense from customers. I was  left in no doubt that photography of his stall would not be permitted – I was here to eat and not collect souvenirs!

The pride, it turns out, is well-founded.  There’s no shortage of bedmi wallahs in Delhi but Jain Sa’ab is in a class of his own.  His lentil-laced crunchy puris are served with a deeply savoury, meltingly soft potato and chhole (chick pea) curry  drizzled with a sharp fenugreek leaf  chutney.  But what marks him out from other bedmi shops is the  side portion of  tangy, sweet pumpkin  which gives the whole dish a perfect balance.  There’s also a final flourish of pickled carrot and I couldn’t decide which combination made for the most satisfying mouthful – I suspect a return trip may be needed to nail it!  One thing is for sure, though,  the wonderfully fresh and creamy sweet lassi was the perfect accompaniment.  For a sweet final flourish we also could have had a pudding from the bubbling pot of Gulab Jamun.  As  Jain Sa’ab knows only too well, this is Indian street food at its finest!

Jain Sa’ab: In Daryaganj,  from Golcha Cinema on Bahadur Shah Zafar Road turn right until you come to a T-junction, Jain Sa’ab is a small stall on the left

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “Jain Sa’ab – the Gordon Ramsay of Daryaganj

  1. A measly 200 yards to right from T junction there’s a sardarji’s shop ( over 50 yrs old), arrogant that the senior sardarji was, his bedmi’s and carrot and radish pickle with awesome potatoes curried, all fresh,piping hot. His hot samosas and Jalebis are worth dying for. Trust me folks, I grew up there, studied in Cambridge School taught by a Scot lady Mrs Sutherland.

    There’s also a Lotun cholley (chick peas)wala near Commercial school , served with red chilli syrup. The list goes on and on and on………

  2. Bedmi and sweet-tart kaddu (pumpkin) sabzi is really an amazing combination. Had couple of weeks back at home for Holi…this weekend, look forward to trying Dinesh Kachoriwala, another of Rahul Verma’s reccomendations

  3. No doubt Jain Saheb’s bedmi aloo with sitaphal(pumpkin) subzi is outstanding. But it in old delhi (bazar sitaram etc) many others also sell comparable stuff. It is incomprehensible as to why inspite of charging quite a bit and enormous sales leading to profits of at Rs.5,000/- a day, he insists on keeping broken tables and chairs. Also if served in steel plates, it would be more convenient and tasty also.

  4. Drool worthy picture pamela!
    Do you have the recipe for the gajar ka achaar?Just irresistable.Yum…….

  5. My grandparents used to live in Daryaganj and I remember the amazing Sunday morning poori aloo breakfeast in that ancient ansari road gali number 3 home :). There is a sardarji’s shop on ansari road where we got our breakfeast from. I wonder if “narender” is referring to the same one. The aloo ki sabzi is fiery! with pieces of moongra (a kind of namkeen, if I spelt it right). He makes his poori only from 9-11am in the morning.

    Mr. Jain’s bedmi looks delicious too. I’m going to try it soon just for this – “But what marks him out from other bedmi shops is the side portion of tangy, sweet pumpkin which gives the whole dish a perfect balance”

    Damn!, I want to go now. What am i doing in office 😦

  6. My grandparents used to live in Daryaganj and I remember the amazing Sunday morning poori aloo breakfeast in that ancient ansari road gali number 3 home :). There is a sardarji’s shop on ansari road where we got our breakfeast from. I wonder if “narender” is referring to the same one. The aloo ki sabzi is fiery! with pieces of moongra (a kind of namkeen, if I spelt it right). He makes his poori only from 9-11am in the morning.

    Mr. Jain’s bedmi looks delicious too. I’m going to try it soon just for this – “But what marks him out from other bedmi shops is the side portion of tangy, sweet pumpkin which gives the whole dish a perfect balance”

    Damn!, I want to go now. What am i doing in office 😦

    -Sameer

  7. Pamela, on paranthewali galli, as you start walking, around the bend there’s a kachori wala– literally a hole in the wall! The “kachori and alu kane ke baadh” “daeyth hi ho jayega” as the Punjabi’s would say!! There’s also a Nan Katai chap right there selling warm Nan Katais from a cycle — again to die for!

  8. loton cholly wala more popular all in a.rd. delcs. red chilly cholly yam yam,n chkn chowmin at sbi chowmin bus stand here 30 years.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s