The charm never fades

The charm never fades

Going strong

The charm never fades

The ever-present crowd in front of Shankar Bhel House, which began operating out of a small shack in 1980 near Sindhi Colony in Fraser Town, has not diminished with time. You may have to literally elbow your way through to get to the counter to place an order but the effort will be worth it by the end of it all.

For over two decades, the joint has been swearing by its quality. The owner Raju says he began honing his ‘chaat’ making skills through experiments at home. Soon, Raju decided to give a proper form to his many experiments by starting the Shankar Bhel House, near Sindhi Colony in 1980. “I was the only ‘chaat’ seller on this street when we first started. Even after all these years, I still come to the eatery everyday and sometimes make the ‘chaats’ myself and serve the customers,” he says, with a sense of satisfaction in his voice.

The small eatery dishes out authentic ‘chaats’ that are neither too sweet nor too spicy and the loyal clientele includes a wide range — office-goers, college students and families too. The eatery has no plush settings but the taste ensures that no one complains on having to stand by the pavement and eat. Why hasn’t Raju expanded the eatery? “This is our only branch and we never thought of expanding because it will only result in bogus branches coming up to exploit what I have taken decades to build. We basically don’t want to lose our originality,” he explains.

Raju feels the rustic appeal of the place is what sees people coming back for more. The eatery serves 24 varieties of ‘chaats’. He has done his own little research and created a few dishes as well. “We have invented some exclusive  ‘chaats’ that you don’t get anywhere else. Another aspect that sets us apart is the ‘masala’ that we use to make the ‘chaats’. We never buy ‘chaat masala’; instead we make everything in-house,” he asserts.
The owner says that an effort is made to offer food that is fresh. “We don’t keep any item for the next day.

The ‘chaat’ items are custom-made according to the requirement. We make it in such a way that the ‘khatta’ and ‘meetha’ blend perfectly and most of our regulars prefer it spicy,” informs Raju. Raju also states that the vegetables are fresh and nothing is cut and stocked for too long. “We never cut and keep the onions, tomatoes and the other raw vegetables that have to be mixed with the ‘chaats’. The vegetables tend to get very soggy and the taste changes when we use cut vegetables that are stored for a long time,” he explains.

The eatery is located at No 131, Wheeler Road, near Sindhi Colony, Fraser Town.