By: Aradhana Dwivedi-Verma, Anubhav Sapra
The history and origins of the delectable delight that is the rasgulla, has always been a subject for heated debates, but its existence is nothing but a divine blessing for us. And what's more, eastern India is not the only region that can lay claim to making the best ones. New Delhi's Connaught Place, an exuberant shopping and eating hub, has a sinful little underbelly that not everyone is aware of. Hidden among the boutiques and swanky restaurants are street stalls selling the most delectable rasgullas and other sweet treats. Sweetening the deal even further are the throwaway prices.
An amiable gentleman with a kind face, Lalji has occupied his corner of Connaught Place's H Block for close to 40 years. In the summer months, customers flock to his modest stall to cool down with rasgullas, ice cream and rabdi.
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Originally from Gorakhpur, Lalji lives in Nabi Karin, Paharganj, and earlier sold ice cream in Satyanarayan Katra, Chandni Chowk. Although he makes the ice cream himself, he sources the rabdi from Hathras; it is made by two brothers named Bablu and Mukesh, who also supply it to Haldiram's, says Lalji with quiet amusement.
The rasgullas at this stall are sweet and juicy, and the rabdi (Rs 10 for a cup), is sweet, textured and melts in the mouth. It is sold through the year, though the Lalji sets aside the ice cream and succulent rasgullas after Diwali, replacing them with gulab jamuns and gajar ka halwa.
Find it here: Next to Punjab Sindh Bank, H Block, Connaught Place
Lalji sets up his stall at noon each day and leaves at 9pm.
2. Sajan Lal
The first thing that strikes you about Sajan Lal's shop is the array of posters depicting benevolent colourful deities smiling down upon his trays of rasmalai, kulfi, rabdi, faluda and rasgullas.
Sajan Lal is from Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, but has been living in Delhi since 1982. Like Lalji, he too buys his rabdi from Bablu and Mukesh, but makes his rasgullas and ice cream himself.
As he makes you a faluda-kulfi (swiftly going through the steps -- ice cream, faluda, chashni, rabdi, ice cream again and a deft dash of Rooh Afza) he tells you that he lives in Paharganj, as do many others in his trade.
When you're here, do try the rasmalai; it is soft, flavourful and utterly beautiful to behold. If you're craving something salty, ask for the dhoklas. The dhoklas are a recent addition to the menu (it was his first day of selling dhoklas on the day of the interview); he is looking to add variety
The best thing he makes is the rasmalai; it is soft, flavourful and utterly beautiful to behold.
Sajan Lal sets up shop at 10am, and stays till around 8.30pm, which is when his stock usually runs out.
Find it here: Near Bank of Baroda, M Block, Connaught Place
3. Sanjay Agarwal's stall
Sanjay Agarwal runs a stall near Barakhamba Road metro station, selling faluda, rabdi, kulfi and rasgullas. It is probably one of the most famous sweet stalls in CP, if not all of Delhi - before Sanjay hopped on board, his father had been running it for 40 years.
The place is always crowded, with people asking for their favourite desserts.
Unlike most other vendors, he breaks a rasgulla into half before serving it to you, and when you express surprise upon learning that he too lives in Paharganj and buys his rabdi from Bablu and Mukesh, he tells you that this is no coincidence. Lalji is his brother-in-law and Sajan Lal is his father's younger brother. In shop number 53, Shankar Market, sits Rampher, Lalji's brother. He only sells faluda kulfi, says Sanjay Agarwal.
Agarwal's most legendary dish is the slightly tangy faluda; he explains that while the others use only mango ice cream, they use mango and vanilla. He also explains that their ice cream is the best because they churn the milk more.
In the winter months, they sell moong dal ka halwa.
Find it here: Outside Exit 6, Barakhamba Road Metro Station
Picture Courtesy: Aakanksha Joshi