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Home > News > Opinion News > Article > First 5 letters of cholesterol love

First 5 letters of cholesterol = love!

Updated on: 07 February,2024 06:53 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Mayank Shekhar | mayank.shekhar@mid-day.com

Here’s why a particular Delhi-ite deserves a trophy from India’s chole bhature eaters’ association

First 5 letters of cholesterol = love!

Inside of Delhi Se, in Chembur (Mumbai) paying tribute to Virat Kohli. His wife, Anushka Sharma, recommended the place on Instagram

Mayank ShekharApart from cricket, Delhiite Virat Kohli’s strongest contribution towards an Indian public passion is to the chole bhature industry.


I realise this driving to one, ‘Civil Line Wale Chole Bhature’ (CLWCB) outlet, in Gurugram, that Virat’s spoken about in an interview. Only to figure that there are already three tiny, tin shops, CLWCB, with the same font-colour signage, at that spot in Haryana. 


Which is different from eateries with the same name, I’ve noticed lately, that stand right next to each other—two Mughal Darbars in Srinagar; Chotiwalas, in Rishikesh; Ramashrayas, in Matunga (Mumbai)… 


Because, presumably, siblings split up the business. Neither had the balls to go their separate ways/addresses, attempting to cash in on the locational history still—leaving customers perennially confused over which is the real one. 

Civil Line Wale Chole Bhature that Virat patronises in GurugramCivil Line Wale Chole Bhature that Virat patronises in Gurugram

On my way, I call up the Gurugram CLWCB, since Google map suggests the eatery shuts by 9.30 pm, and we’re already late on the weekend night. I’m told by the fellow on the phone that the proper CLWCB, which is his, and that Virat loves, gets done for the day at 5.30 pm. The one I’m headed to is fake anyway!

The supposedly fake CLWCB owner pulls us aside to whisper that his is the Virat one! The shop that’s shut belongs to a “Mohammedan”. As if the chole bhature must also bear a religion in new India.

Jaspal Singh Khalsa, owner of the chole bhature shop, Delhi Se, in Chembur, Mumbai, experienced another level of Virat’s influence on his life/industry, on October 5, 2022. Over a fortnight before that, he’d been getting calls for two plates of chole bhature, priced Rs 240 each, to deliver to Juhu. The travel would cost him more. 

After a bank transfer, Jaspal delivered on the assigned time/date. The package was for Virat. Soon after the meal, his wife, actor Anushka Sharma, heaped praises on this OG Delhi chole bhature on Instagram. 

Jaspal tells me, “Within half-an -hour [of the post], there was a maddening crowd outside my shop. The non-stop queues persisted for three months, between 8.30 am and 10.30 pm. I had no clue who’s eating what, paying where, when… We were just busy making chole bhature!” 

Having experienced no footfall at Delhi Se, once Jaspal opened it in August, 2021, he was ready to close it down by September, 2022. 

Until stand-up comedian Abhishek Upmanyu, another Delhi-ite [guessing, of Bihari origin], accidently discovered Jaspal’s chole bhature, and talked it up on Instagram. Which is where Anushka picked up the recco for husband, Virat. 

Like Virushka, is chole bhature a Punjabi dish? Decidedly. Though if the chole is Amritsari, that means it’s the more home-made variety, with thinner, light-brown gravy, commonly served with a wholly ballooned up bhature/bread, at restaurants that don’t specialise in chole bhature. 

The more purist, OG Delhi chole bhature, as I see it, is the golden, deep-fried, pillowy bhature/bread, ideally with light paneer stuffings. 

A fat potato is often placed in the thick, black ‘pindi’ chole (with origins in present-day Pakistan). It’s served with onions, chilli and gajar achaar. Crispy Amritsari kulche go well with this pindi chole, too. 

Unlike the Delhi kulcha, that’s fluffy, and bao-like. 

Which explains why of all the anti-gym joints in all the towns of the world, the super-fit Virushka had to virtually walk into Delhi Se, in Chembur, Mumbai. Thousands followed. 

While social media influencers playing up anything for openly paid partnerships is an advertising scam—followers don’t equal fans—most can smell something authentic. 

Such as Virat’s love for chole bhature, although he probably knows as much about food as chef Sanjeev Kapoor can tell square cuts in cricket. 

Beyond all else, there is some sorta sorcery for a secret sauce in a Delhi chole bhature that no two places ever serve exactly the same stuff. 

Unlike the masala dosa from a regular Udipi restaurant that seems to emanate from a common, city-wide kitchen/chef. And therefore, everyone in Delhi has their favourite chole bhature joint, often depending on where they’re from, of course. 

It was Chacha’s c-bhats (chole bhature), along with hot sams (samosas), g-jams (gulab jamuns) at K-Nags (Kamla Nagar), for me, while living on the college-campus close by. 

Many swear by the upscale restaurant Kwality’s chole bhature, in Connaught Place (CP). As per legend, Kwality’s introduced chole bhature to Delhi in 1947. I’m unsure. 

Bhogal’s chole bhature in CP draws the city’s longest lines, and claims to have been around for 85 years. I rushed to Nagpal’s chole bhature—soon as it opened on a roadside in Khar, Mumbai. 

Sensing the attraction, Nagpal’s has come up next-door to Delhi Se in Chembur too. As it has, among the multiple CLWCB outlets in Gurugram, after Virat spoke about it. The original Nagpal’s in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar has strictly announced that it has no branches elsewhere!

They’re all fake. As was the CLWCB that I ate at in Gurugram: Crap! Which makes me wanna head over to Ram’s chole bhature in Delhi’s Rajouri Gardens. That’s the one Virat’s been raving about for longer. 

I’m certain several Rams have sprung up there since, and a Nagpal’s in between too. The next time Virat recommends a chole bhature place, I intend to invest. Just so it can turn into a legit chain!

Mayank Shekhar attempts to make sense of mass culture. He tweets @mayankw14
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