While exploring the gali Dariba of Chandni Chowk during winters, the sight of white cloud of cream with a hint of yellow is quite amazing just like sun rays glinting in the vast sky covered with white clouds. For a street food lover, the sight of savouries in the heaven of street food is delighting. The cloud of white cream covered with muslin cloth invites me to taste it. I approach the vendor although a little apprehensive about the dish. I enquire, “What is this? “Daulat Ki Chaat,” he informs. “Let me try, I thought, and request him to prepare a dona (plate) for me. As the vendor is busy making the chaat, I think of spicy, crunchy and tangy spoonful about to hit my taste buds. Intently watching the adept fingers of the vendor carefully taking the ingredients one by one, mixing and garnishing, I await to satiate my taste buds. Once done, he presents the dona and a wooden spoon to me.
I take the chaat prepared and get ready to indulge in the delicacy. Taking a spoonful of it, I put it in my mouth. It turned out to be a sweet puffy creamy portion that melted the moment it touch-base my mouth. The light sweetness lingers and tantalises me to take another spoon. Trying to grasp the taste, I help myself with the third spoon of the light and airy dessert. A light and sweet buttery taste garnished with nuts, a dash of saffron and some crunchy khoya meets the tongue and disappears the moment I place it in my mouth.
Curious to know more about this living tradition of Chandni Chowk, I strike a conversation with the vendor. A migrant from Uttar Pradesh, Khemchand informs that Daulat Ki Chaat is available only in winters and not found in the normal eateries of Chandni Chowk. It is solely a street specialty. Donning the chef’s cap, Khemchand passionately talks about the recipe of the unique specialty.
Daulat ki Chaat is made up of buffalo’s milk. Cream and milk are whisked and left to froth over in the early morning winter dew. Legend says that the morning dew or shabnam adds a special touch to the dessert. While serving, it is dusted with boora (powdered sugar), some khoya and nuts to make it truly the snack of the wealthy. Another legend says that the name is also synonymous of the fact that just as wealth does not satiate everybody, this dish too does not satiate your sweet tooth and you feel like having more.
Delighted I order another dona and prepare myself to indulge and tantalise my taste buds yet again.
Text by Shalvi Dutta
Image by Sudeepto Bhattacharya