How Do You Like Your Daulat Ki Chaat – Old School or High Tech?
(This video from The Quint’s archives has been reposted to mark World Food Day on 16 October.)
Amidst the dusty lanes, cobbled wires and crumbling walls, lies old Delhi’s most well-kept secret. A secret that is made ready only on cold winter nights by churning milk till it is reduced to a creamy foam. This might be the closest you’ll ever come to tasting a cloud. Yes, you guessed it – we’re talking about Delhi’s oldest favourite, Daulat ki Chaat.
Daulat ki Chaat is a spoonful of cloud in your mouth, which vanishes as soon as it touches your tongue, leaving behind the flavours of saffron and khoya…!
I met two very different people who make this to-die-for foamy treat – Rakesh Kumar Baburam, who owns a stall in old Delhi, and the other, Shantanu Mehrotra, the executive chef at Indian Accent.
Both are masters in their own right, and they helped me decode this traditional Indian sweet, step-by-step.
Its Roots are Lost in Ambiguity
Nobody really knows how or when did this delicacy come to India. According to Chef Shantanu, there are a number of theories on its origin, but nothing is known for certain. It was brought in by either the Botai tribe of Afghanistan, who drank a similar drink called Kumis and is made out of mare’s milk; or by the Arabs, who introduced it to the coasts of Andhra Pradesh and Surat via the silk route when they travelled for trade.
He also speculates that it may have come to northern India during the Mughal rule, either by inter-kingdom trade or war.
Tradition vs Technology
The traditional method of making Daulat ki Chaat is an extremely strenuous process. The number of hours and labour that goes into making it, and the fact that it continues to survive today, is an achievement in its own way. Hours and hours are spent churning milk to get the perfect cottony puff.
Baburam boils the milk once at around 7 in the evening and lets it cool on a slab of ice. Then from 3 am to 8 am, he religiously churns the milk to get the creamy foam.
With the leftover milk, he makes ‘khurchan’. It’s brown, crunchy and made by scraping milk along the side of the utensil it was boiled in. With saffron, pistachio and loads of mewa on the top, it is supremely irresistible!
Whereas Chef Shantanu prepares a mixture of reduced milk, which he puts in a chiffon machine, charges with nitrogen cylinders, and tada! The delicious foam is ready in a matter of minutes.
He garnishes it with crunchy rose petal chikki and almonds... yumm!
Our Final Verdict?
If you haven’t already tried this spoonful of awesomeness, head to Dariba Kalan in Chandni Chowk to get a taste of tradition while soaking in the sun, or you can make your way to Indian Accent at Lodhi Road for the fancy, but homegrown experience of Daulat ki Chaat.
A chaat that is not savoury, tangy or spicy? It’s not a chaat, it’s an illusion!
Chandni Chowk: Rs 40, 50 and 70 (according to different plate sizes)
Indian Accent: Rs.675/plate
Camerapersons: Athar Rather and Chandni Sharma
Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
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