The Tangy Taste of G.P.O
Jay Deep Ghosh
Besides being multicultural and home to people with different dialects and languages, Lucknow is also a myriad of cuisines one wishes to taste and explore. Alongside the Awadhi, Mughlai and cuisine of Uttar Pradesh, the city has still got a lot to offer to the taste buds of Lucknowites. The cuisines and fast foods across the country are also making their presence felt in the city among the Nawabi localities, be it the modern bakeries setting standards for modern confectioneries and delights or the fast food chains serving the pedestrians with the junk foods recently introduced. They all are adding up the varieties to the food culture of the city.
Being a Lucknowite and being there in Hazratganj in your leisure time is a bliss. After getting done with your Ganjing you now might be looking for some food joint to land at to stuff your tummy slightly. Then here comes the ‘Dahi Bade’ to your rescue. Following the road opposite to the gate of GPO Hazratganj, here you find it finally the GPO KE THANDE DAHI BADE’ shop. It is sort of a dessert which has been transformed from its traditional form. Dahi Bada consists of basically two major elements- Dahi or curd and the Bada, a donut shaped bread. The first part of the recipe is preparing the Bada which is basically made by blending the grams of URAD and MOONG and then deep frying the thick paste in the shape of donut in vegetable oil. After that they are dipped in water to get soften. In the second part the ‘Dahi’ is churned and smoothened. Sugar, salt and fennel powder is mixed in the curd thereafter. The Badas are ready to be dipped in that flavoured curd and served afterwards.
The GPO ke Thande Dahi Bade has gone nowhere beyond to this recipe. But the things which make it distinct and most liked is the consistency of the quality of ingredients and the unchanged 15 year old taste. In Lucknow it has got to be Dahi Bade at GPO when the taste and quality is the only concern. The owner of the shop Mr. Surya Pal Singh, established this food joint in the year 2000 who is a former research officer in Suchna and Jansampark Vibhaag Lucknow. In the initial years of his service he’d also established a finance company which was directed by his son. So in order to maintain and ensure the smoother transactions of funds and savings to fulfill his family’s needs he had to go for some other modes of income meanwhile. He thereafter indulged himself in the flower business but later realised that it’s not getting him what he wanted in terms of money. After that he learned about the craze of fast food in the city and got started with a food joint serving a variety of south indian fast food like various types of Dosas and Idli Sambhar. He was doing fine with this business until the moment when he found that he can’t get the exposure and customer following due the restraints the place had to offer. Being in Hazratganj, one of the busiest places in Lucknow in terms of traffic, he found that the place wasn’t suitable to serve the passersby as there was no place availed for parking vehicles. The business could never have been expanded to fulfill the increasing demand and number of customers. So finally he decided to shift his food corner to the Capital Building. He also quit the menu he had been serving. The menu had been completely redefined and then only he introduced the THANDE DAHI BADE completely in a different way. It instantly became the epitome of Dahi Bada in Lucknow. Since then it’s been enjoying a irreplaceable place in the hearts of Lucknowites. The shop has been serving this delight to so many renowned names, from celebs to ministers, none of whom could resist themselves from this sweet and tangy bucket of flavor.
” I never looked at the contenders who are in the race. The investment of time is the only factor to achieve success in any business. I have given my 15 years to this shop. The only thing I focused on was maintaining the quality of the food, making sure the price is reasonable and affordable for people of every class and the happiness of my workers. There are 10 workers currently working at my shop and they’re all like my family members. I treat them as my own sons and make sure that they’re comfortable and happy here. After all everything depends on them be it the quality or the quantity of food we’re to meet for customers”, replied Mr. Singh after being asked about the strategies and market plans. The shop opens at 10.30 in the morning and get closed around 9 to 10 in the night, depending upon the frequency of customers.
Talking more about the food, the dahi bade offered here are pretty soft and chewy and the soft grains of the grams the Badas are made up of just get dissolved in your mouth instantly. More on that the Dahi or curd is made in-house by the workers using top grade Buffalo milk. It takes approximately 3hrs to prepare the serving from the raw materials. The spices used as toppings on the Dahi Bade have a tangy and spicy flavor which binds the sweet curd and salty Bade. So next time when you plan to go for Ganjing don’t miss out on the GPO KE THANDE DAHI BADE.
writer is an Engineering Graduate and a beginner photographer. He loves to travel and explore places.
(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 2 Issue 17, Dated 05 August 2015)