The Sarkozy's spent their weekend in Agra mesmerized by the "Monument of Eternity". It reminded me that I have been meaning to write this post on my amazing breakfast at Mathura the weekend of Diwali. My mom is from Agra. I have spent every summer of my childhood at my grandparent's home in Agra. Each year, cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbours, all piled in a couple cars would be off to see the Taj. My mom once told me that she gifted a silver taj miniature to my dad while they were courting. I guess that would be equivalent to a kiss in those days. Aah the monument of love. On a moonlit night it stops you short, frozen in its perfect proportions and symmetry. The white marble glistening, some days seemingly yellow. Industries were shut down in its vicinity when environmentalists raised the alarm that the smoke from the factories is ruining its pure white wall. The Taj has inspired many artists, sculptors, architect and if any one of you know me, then you know before food love there is architecture love. Once we heard the US wanted to buy the Taj and take it away. Was that even possible. But if you know Agrawalas they treat the Taj like its a beautiful flower in their yard. Its their's.
So like every year till I left for the States, I wanted to spend Diwali in Agra with the family. My birthday was two days later and what better way than to be in city of my childhood summer holidays. We took the August Kranti from Mumbai Central to Mathura where my uncle's driver greeted us to take us to Agra a 45 minute drive away.
It was early morning 7 am. Foggy, cold for us Bombaywalas. Dad said to me- "You know there is a kachori and jalebi wala near the station who is very famous. Detour before we head to Agra?" My eyes lit up- ofcourse. So off we went to the marketplace in Mathura. A day before Diwali the whole market was bustling with sugar 'batashas', traditional mud lamps, terracotta toys, flowers etc.
Dad insisted on getting some 'malai wala doodh' (full fat milk with cream) that is boiled on a low heat with spices and dry fruits such as cardamom, saffron, pista. The dudh walla poured the milk in terracotta cups (kulhar) and scraped the cream that had settled on the edges of the huge wok and dumped a generous amount in each cup. Oh my! What the hell. It is Diwali in India after 10 years right.
Then we moved on to the kachori wala. There was a healthy crowd of over 50 people standing and eating kachoris and jalebis. Seeming fully satisfied. No clear sign board around. The owner was this toothless ancient fellow frying up Kachoris. There were two kinds of Kachori- Khasta and Bedai. The khasta is stuffed with potato is boiled and mashed and mixed with masala. It is so spicy that your tongue burns. The Badai is stuffed with ground urad dal and masala. Both Kachoris served with potato sabji cooked in an iron Wok. Understand the iron wok is key here. After throrougly burning our tongues with these deep fried goodness we were handed a bowl of fresh hot jalebis from the frying pan, dipped in sugar syrup and straight in our mouths. Oh my what a relief. Suddenly I heard music. This is the best freakin jalebi I had EVER had. I remembered my friend
Area. So in true Kalyan style I asked the owner- How long have you been making these. He gave me a toothless smile and said for many years who keeps a count. It must be a halwai from UP response. This uncle standing next to me very enthusiastically chimed in- I have been coming here for 50 years and this is the best Kachori - Jalebi you will ever eat in all of Mathura and Agra. Wow!
I also write this post for my younger sis
who told me that she had a dream that she broke into a wedding and was hogging on the Kachoris. Oh Janu- cant wait for you to come home.
Plonk! A dollop of malai.
Traditional diya holders
Khasta and Samosa
Piping hot Jalebis
Straight out of the wok Kachoris
Uncle who swore by the kachori
The sugar syrup dripping
7 am crowd of kachori and jalebi fans
Wah Taj! Ofcourse. I took this picture earlier this year in July. In this trip I was determined to explore other areas of Agra. More adventures to follow...