The joy of having someone who will bring food for you is secondary to only eating that very food. I’m not talking about delivery options, rather having someone (friend, relative, colleague, or staff) to stop over at the legendary Sita Ram Diwan Chand in Paharganj and ask them to get their special Channa Bhaturas for lunch. It’s also the best way since the entire family cannot load up in a car and head there at the drop of a hat.
Why Sita Ram? Because they are one of those last few remaining eating places that are seeped into the culinary history of the city. It’s a place that has a customer following that gets passed down from one generation to another and in-between keeps on adding to its fan-base with fresh recruits.
The Channa Bhatura served at Sita Ram Diwan Chand is quintessential Delhi street food. The Channas might have a nice layer of oil on top, enough to send a health freak running for a 10-Day cleansing camp in the Himalayas, but they taste devilishly good. It’s important that you enjoy these in separate bites and not just with the Bhaturas.
The Bhaturas are once again not for the faint hearted. Each one is quite heavy, and even though we have them a good hour or so after they have been cooked, they remain so soft and tear off with ease. The Paneer stuffing, which isn’t in excess, gives it a distinctive taste and makes the bhatura a hybrid between what we normally are used to getting at most restaurants and a kulcha, but delicious to the core nonetheless. A word of advice though, you may think that that third bhatura, the one you’ve had your eye on for a while, looks yummy and that you’re tummy isn’t even half full yet, but trust me on this, give it some time and don’t overeat. If you must, save it for later, as the food hits with its heaviness not while you eat but a good half hour later.
The biggest positive about the Channa Bhatura is that although it is beautifully spiced and is sinfully delightful to eat, it is not at all hot and can be enjoyed by the entire family irrespective of their “spicy” preferences. The condiments that support the food and include onions, green chutney, pickled chillies are there to give that extra kick if you so desire.
The only negative aspect of having to get the food packed is that the folks at Sita Ram Diwan Chand tend to give fewer amounts of Channas with each plate as compared to when you eat in the restaurant. So, as a rule, we end up getting two extra plates of Channa to make up for this loss.
Definitely a class apart and food that should be on the essential must-try list of every person who admires the art of cooking and eating food and wants to experience the culture of a nation through the food that’s popular amongst the locals.