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City Scapes

“Patti, Gajar Pak”


Walking along Sansad Marg is quite tricky. There is very little room available on the pavement, especially near the bus stop opposite Park Hotel. One has to sidestep the lemon seller or the vendor of roasted peanuts (still in their shells) as well as the hordes of jacket wearing, muffler shrouded men waiting for their buses. And in the midst of all this confusion is the Winter Special salesman, the “Pattiwala” – seller of the flat peanut jaggery crisp – patti – “disc”.

The arrival of winter in Delhi is notified by the sudden appearance of these ruffian looking “boy-men” carrying plates decked with layers and layers of this brown, sweet discs of peanut and jaggery. And as it gets colder and closer to mid-January, the sesame jaggery discs appear. These flat discs are made of caramelised fresh jaggery stirred in with roasted peanuts or sesame and quickly poured onto plates or discs to solidify into that perfect patti shape – round discs of sweet, warm and comforting winter food. 

Winters in Mumbai or Bombay are non-existent, but those few days in December and January when the mornings get crispy and nippy and the locals flaunt their woollens turns out its versions of the sweet at the bus-stop. Sweet meat sellers at bus stations hold aluminum trays stacked with little square orange pieces or cream ones (or at times both) arranged as though their were building a 2-D pyramid around a circular or square plate/tray. The orange ones are purportedly carrot candy or Gajar Pak(caramelised and turned into stiffer versions of the more popular gajar halwa – carrot halwa) while the cream coloured versions are the ginger candy, Aala Pak – or sugar and ginger juice cooked till the syrup solidifies.

Jaggery, sesame, carrot and ginger are fresh harvests of winter and many are purported to provide warmth to the body when eaten, and are perhaps the reaosn why Indian cities and their cultures turn these out to greet the misty mornings and the breezy afternoons. And all the more appreciated in the confines of the bus – bus rides can be chilly, even if the buses are bursting at their seams with passengers. Ask anyone who uses the BEST or the DTC.

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About Narayan

Not a good stock market investor and you can perhaps read why - I find odd reasons for their movements!

Discussion

2 thoughts on ““Patti, Gajar Pak”

  1. Dear sir
    Having been brought up in Bombay,moving to Delhi after marriage and now back to Mumbai,I terribly miss Dilli ki sardi.The dry,unforgiving heat of apr-may-june gives way to sticky humidity with some rain here and there(unlike the cool and steadyMumbai monsoon) and then Delhiites welcome autumn by shutting down the ac’s and slowing down the fan regulators gradually.
    The pleasant mornings and evenings turn cooler and cooler getting the elderly slip into their light woollens during morning walks.Sleeveless attire of women give way to full sleeves now.The fragrance of raat rani lingers in the autumn air,which invariably reminds me of my mother in law whipping up some sweet delicacy in the kitchen.Celebrating Navratri,karva chauth and Diwali is wonderful in this weather.

    As autumn ends,the shakkar-kandi chaat walas appear all over the city heralding the onset of winter.People sun bathe their woollens before cold and foggy days envelop the city.Shawls,stoles,jackets,coats,pullovers,mufflers will now be the norm for the next 3 months.Rajasthani gajak vendors descend upon the city,garam doodh-jalebi,nagori halwas,hot paranthas,gajar,kaali gajar and mung dal halwas dripping with ghee,the famous khurchan of purani Dilli,the yummy dhoda barfis,and how can I forget the heart warming saag-roti…mmmm….Im missing saadi Dilli so much…

    Yes,intense winters miss the sun,fog delays trains and flights, washed clothes refuse to dry,heaters and geysers replace ac’s as electricity guzzlers…yet,the warm comforts of the kitchen stove,the warm embrace of the quilts,the piping hot delicacies,the long brisk walks without even breaking a single bead of sweat,the cultural shows and varied exhibitions held in the city,the cold air brushing against the face while travelling in a DTC bus,enjoying the warmth of a crowded bus(as oppposed to the sweaty,sticky,smelly bus rides in summer!)…..how I yearn to experience all this and so much more…mmmhhhh…..
    The chills and thrills of winter give way to the perfumed and colorful spring with basant melas,flower shows and blossoms all over the city.Summer then follows with its own offerings-the oppressive heat brings along with it the chik blinds hanging on the doors/windows to naturally cool the houses,the desert coolers and ac’s whiz non stop,nature offers mangoes,litchees,plums,peaches in abundance and the snow clad mountains call you to them.
    The distinctiveness of seasons in Delhi lends the city it’s variety,charm,colour and gaiety.

    Posted by Lakshmi Vasudevan | January 24, 2011, 1:00 pm
    • Lakshmi, you surely seem to have fallen head over heels for Dilli. And this is not unusual for a “Bambaiyya” who spends more than the customary holidays in other cities. There is quite a lot of charm outside of the Mumbai metropolis, and I am glad you shared your capsule of all the seasons in Delhi.

      Thank you for your comments.

      Posted by Narayan | January 25, 2011, 1:42 pm

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