The battle isn’t won, the war isn’t over yet. However, after the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are gaining momentum in our restless lives.
In this context, it is worth mentioning the opening of a special iconic shop – one that serves one of the tastiest Halebi’s in the entire metropolitan area of the country.
A few days ago, Sardar Jalebi resumed hell berry production at Sadar’s bazaar in Gurugram shortly after the current blockade caused by the Kovid 19 pandemic had disappeared. The attack of the virus is getting worse, but the city is trying to falter, and you can see some of the old normality in this expensive icon.
At the end of the morning a couple of cooks, who the owner calls cigars, roast their bread in big kettles. A gentleman presses the dough through a fine cloth into an oil-filled container and constantly moves his hand counterclockwise to obtain wavy shapes that match the corners of the habeas. Another person fills a paper bag with fresh Halebies for the customer.
The Halebie of this must-have Sadar bazaar is thin, extremely crispy and tastes good, even when cold, unlike the thick copy of the equally famous Chandney Chowk restaurant in Delhi, which is best eaten hot near Karahi. (This shop is also reopened and served daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.).
Every worker here in Sardar Jalebi wears gloves and a mask, and no mask slips under his nose, because that disappoints most people walking on the streets these days.
All this can be viewed on a mobile phone screen that connects this reporter to Gurpret Singh, whose family has been running the place for 70 years. The man in the turban, wearing the same black mask as his colleagues, is talking on a WhatsApp video. He sits on a wall decorated with portraits of the ten Sikh gurus. Guru Nanak’s portrait is adorned with a wreath of fresh marigolds.
We have five cigars now, Mr. Singh, his voice is a little muffled, maybe because of the mask. According to Mr. Singh, the families of all shop owners live in their home area, either in UP or in Bihar. But unlike many other migrants, they were in no hurry to return to their villages after all shops were closed during the blockade. We’ve taken care of them all, Mr. Singh reports. They live above the shop, and we made sure (on blockade days) that they had enough food and money to send something to their families every month, like they always did.
Some of Sardar Jalebi’s employees have worked here for decades. Bhagwan. He’s been here for 40 years. Hedi Ram has been making Halebies for 32 years. (The other men at work are Raju, Manoy and Arun)
We have to say something about the relationship this small family business has built up over the years with its cigars. This may explain the fact that, while many other renowned snack bars in the Delhi area have lost something special that made their typical dish so popular, Halebies here are still admired by everyone without ifs and buts. In fact, it can be difficult to find an old patron who complains about the decline of the Sardar standards.
Despite its long lifespan and good reputation, the institution itself is extremely modest. There are only a few benches to sit on. Honestly, this is no place to rest. Take your Halebis and put him somewhere you can take him.
And yet some of the day scenes in the pre-Christmas period (for the wreath) were exceptionally sweet. Especially after school, when students from a nearby public school were happy to pick up their daily share of a free Halebie!
Sardar Jalebi takes his name from his Sikh-founder Arjun Singh, who moved as a refugee from present-day Pakistan to the former Gurgaon. He died in 1994… …it was my father, Mr. Singh. After the death of his father a few years ago, he runs a business with his taudji (uncle) Jagmohan Singh.
Although there is no doubt that the store has suffered a serious setback due to the blockage caused by the coronavirus, we must not forget that this particular attraction has become even worse. At the time of the Sikh attacks, after the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Gandhi in 1984, Sardar Jalebi remained silent for at least three months, explains Singh, who was born that year.