The University has reopened, and everybody has something to say to the campus-goer. Some are telling them what they should read, and some what they should wear. I’m doing something even better: I’m going to tell them what they should be eating.
For generations, students of the University of Delhi have been heading for Chacha’s chholey wallah in Kamla Nagar for his kulchey chholey. But not too many people seem to know about Bille, where you get the most delicious poori chholey.
I discovered Bille during my trade union days a long, long time ago. We often held gate meetings for the early morning shifters in the University area. That meant I had to land up there by 5 or 5.30 in the morning. I quite liked that, because it also meant that immediately after the meeting I could head for Bille di hatti for a hearty breakfast.
My breakfast consisted of Bille’s famous poori chholey and lassi. The pooris were thick and fluffy, and the chholey was incredibly tasty – tangy but lightly-cooked. The lassi was out of this world – frothy, creamy and rich, and with just right amount of sugar. His yoghurt is excellent as well and is made out of thickened milk. There was a time when Bille had 20 or 30 flat-bottomed earthenware pots full of curds which got sold out in no time.
When I bid goodbye to my TU days, I bid a teary farewell to Bille as well. Sometimes a friend brought his poori chholey to some gathering, but it wasn’t quite the same. For a poori to be really good, it has to come to your plate straight from a steaming karai. Still, for old-time’s sake, I always ate Bille’s poori chholey with relish – and a side-dish of warmed up nostalgia.
I went back there some days ago, and found that Bille was still going strong. There was a crowd of young people – and some old Kamla Nagar residents – there, eagerly digging into their chholey with pieces of pooris. I ordered a plate (for Rs 15), and found that his stuff was as good as ever. I think the nice thing about his chholey is that it’s cooked in very little oil. And there are some cubes of potatoes in it, which go really well with the pooris.
Bille di Hatti is to be found at 72-D Kamla Nagar (Phone No. 55808227). Walk straight from the back of Kirori Mal College till you reach a big roundabout. Turn right and walk on till you are at a small roundabout. Now go left, and you’ll find Billa. If you get lost, just ask somebody. But make sure you are there before 2 pm, for his excellent poori chholey disappear even before you can say Ek aur plate dena.