Srinagar: Forget fried fish and barbecues, tickle your taste buds with pure vegetarian ‘pallay-chaat’.
Thanks to Nazir Ahmad, who is making his presence felt in the non-veg food heaven of Lal Chowk.
Nazir’s ‘pallay-chaat’ is just a stone’s throw away from the Ghanta Ghar. He has been selling the savory snack for the past 45 years.
When he took over the business from his father, a plate of ‘chaat’ sold for 60 paisa, and now it sells for Rs. 50 now. However, he says the taste of the ‘chaat’ and his customers have remained the same ever since.
“I learned to make this delicacy from my father and would help him at the stall. And around 45 years back, I started selling ‘chaat’ on my own. Those days I would sell a plate for 60 paisa and now it sells for Rs. 50. Though the younger generation too comes to savor this delicacy, I still receive old regular customers. Some are diabetic now and for them, I prepare this chaat without potatoes. But, the taste has remained the same,” said Nazir, who hails from Batamaloo area of the city.
Claiming to be the ‘fourth generation’ chaat seller, Nazir said he prepared the snack with ‘secret ingredients.
“We have been in the business for four generations. This chaat is prepared with boondi, potato, curd, and pallay besides a few secret ingredients. You will find this chaat only outside the KC theatre in Jammu and nowhere else. I sell this chaat only in the summer months,” he said.
Nazir is very particular about the wooden spoon with which he serves the ‘chaat’.
“I have been serving chaat with this wooden spoon for the past 15 years. I have another spoon that I have kept at home. We had served chaat with that wooden spoon for 40 years,” he said.
Valley-based food blogger of ‘Kashmirfoodgram’ fame, Omar Rather, said Nazir was the only ‘pallay chaat’ seller in town.
“I have not come across any other ‘pallay chaat’ vendor in Kashmir. Nazir Ahmad has been selling chaat in the city center for the past 45 years and before that, his father would sell the same. Apart from achieving success with selling chaat at a place where people mostly come to eat non-vegetarian street food, he has also remained a witness to the history of Lal Chowk. A conversation with him is very enlightening. He vividly recalls the time when the Ghanta Ghar was built and how it received different makeovers,” he said.