Shuklaji's Chaat Cart and the Cheap Eat of my Lifetime in Lucknow, India | The Eaten Path:
Shuklaji’s menu was limited to four choices, each a masterful exercise in minimalism. The first, his take on panipuri, forsook any kind of filling for a more pure experience: The short, mustachioed maestro would simply reach for a crispy puff of hollowed dough, dip it in his own brand of masala water and hand it to me for immediate consumption. He would then reach for another, then another, waiting for the signal to move on to the next course. For round two, Shuklaji would serve perfectly balanced dahipuri, filling the puri shell with slightly crisped potato, a large pinch of spices, a spoonful of yogurt, a drizzle of tamarind and a dusting of cilantro. It was probably the single best bite I took in six months abroad. It was also entirely and immediately repeatable, a virtual conveyor belt of homemade chaat operating at pennies per bite and smiling amusedly at my overwhelmed sense of pleasure. Shuklaji’s final act was a dual serving of aloo tikki, boiled, mashed and fried patties of potato and green peas, spiced conservatively and marked with his wife’s chutneys for a tasty, filling ending to our nightly spoiling of the appetites.