World Food Day: When in Old Delhi, Have Chai ‘Ek Bata Do’ Style

World Food Day: When in Old Delhi, Have Chai ‘Ek Bata Do’ Style

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(This video from The Quint’s archives has been reposted to mark World Food Day on 16 October.)

Ek bata do is a tale of love. It’s fundamental to old Delhi,” says Naseemuddin, also known as Sadar Sahab, who’s a resident of old Delhi. And not just Sadar Sahab but almost everyone at Chitli Qabar believes that their love for Ek bata do unites them.

But what is Ek bata do?

Well, Ek bata do is the unique and traditional style of having tea in old Delhi. “The glass tumbler is placed inside the cup so that two people can share the tea. One uses the glass tumbler and the other uses the cup,” explains Muhammad Ajmal Khan, a resident of old Delhi, who sells Jaipuri bangles on the streets of Chitli Qabar.

The origin of this style remains a mystery to most but Muhammad Yamin, the owner of Malo tea stall, still pursues the tradition of serving tea for two in a single tumbler, after his forefathers. Malo tea stall is the oldest tea stall in the streets of Chitli Qabar, that serves tea Ek bata do style since 1944.

It’s not a rich locality and a glass of tea costs Rs 12. If three people share a glass then one has to pay just four rupees. The reason we use large glass tumblers and put it in a cup is to let two-three people share a glass of tea, thereby making it easy on the pocket.
Muhammad Yamin

For most people in Chitli Qabar their days begin and end with tea. It’s integral to them as it creates an environment of love and friendship. But not everyone thinks on the same lines. Parvez, another resident of old Delhi is skeptical of the tea-sharing tradition. He says, “Their lives revolve around tea because they have nothing better to do. It’s a waste of both money and health.”

Irrespective of their polarised opinions one can’t deny the fact that this purani dilli walli chai served by Malo tea stall will keep you longing for more. And the next time you visit Chitli Qabar, do take a friend along to share a cup of tea.

Camera/Editor: Vivek Das

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