In the third episode of the ongoing 'Community & Food Stories' from Delhi series, we are introducing you to the Baniya cuisine as experienced at the home of our gracious host, the Mittal Family from Pitampura, Delhi. It was a heartwarming encounter that gave us a sneak peek into their culture and way of life through the lens of food.
The Baniyas are an occupational community of merchants, bankers and owners of commercial enterprises. Most Banias follow Hinduism and Jainism. They are deemed to be India's "pre-eminent" trading community.
On arriving there we met Vandana ji, her son Ansh, daughter Isha and her mother in law Kanta ji. Over an invigorating cup of masala chai we gathered a few anecdotes about their food traditions as shared Vandana and Kanta ji. They told us how puri, sabzi and kheer combination was an exclusive festive treat. But today they have become a part of the daily meal along with other pan indian delicacies.
Next we went to see meal preparation which was a humble no onion garlic spread. Vandana ji started with the methi ki chutney. It is a tangy and distinctly flavourful condiment that accompanies the puri sabzi combo. Once this thin chutney was ready she moved on to aloo ki sabzi. It was tangy and spicy, easy to make thick potato curry. Next it was the turn of gulgule which are small sized sweet fritters made of whole wheat flour, jaggery, coconut and nuts. While frying the gulgule, Vandana ji gave us a brief about their festivals and it was quite fascinating to learn about their rituals.
With the sabzi and chutney being ready we took a small chat break before frying the puris for the meal. Kanta ji shared some endearing personal stories mostly revolving around food. After that heartfelt conversation we joined Vandana for frying two kinds of puri - one was the bedmi puri and the other was the palak puri.
The food was simple yet very delicious. We enjoyed the spiced puri, sazi and methi chutney combination. Vandana ji had also served some homemade pickles which are again a staple of the Baniya cuisine. This was followed by a lip smacking dahi bhalle and a refreshingly tangy and piquant kanji vada.
What made this eating experience special was kanta ji stories. We also realized that simplicity is the soul of Baniya cuisine.
Heartfelt thanks to our amazing hosts for such a hearty spread.