To mark the start of the G20 Summit opening this weekend, here are Delhi-NCR’s 20 hyperlocal chai spots.
Each of these places deserves page-length praise, but the detailing has been kept minimal due to space, shared here in no particular order:
1. Zina Tea Stall operates out of a partially hidden zina, Urdu for stairs. In Chitli Qabar.
2. JP’s mobile stall comprises of Jai Prakash, armed with chai kettle and paper glasses, pacing along the lanes of posh Khan Market.
3. Sirajuddin’s tea stall has a shelf resembling a newspaper’s crossword puzzle. The boxy spaces are crammed with tea things. In Turkman Gate.
4. Upender’s stall lies snuggled in a silent, shaded corridor, and serves chai as well as coffee. Near Golcha Cinema.
5. Om Shanti stall has a gigantic sooty-black teakettle the owner inherited from his father. In Gurugram’s Old DLF Colony.
6. Chai ki Dukan has a wall clock with suiyan (hands) stilled at 2.43. In Mohalla Qabristan.
7. Mahaveer’s stall brews its supremely aromatic chai on a coal-fired stove. On Bharat Ram Road.
8. Baiju’s stall is an adda for the area’s Bihar natives. It also runs a Bihar-bound bus that drops the passengers right in their district. In Gurugram’s Naya Bazar.
9. Surinder’s stall is run by Surinder, who has survived setbacks that would have finished off less steely men. In Gurugram’s Sadar Bazar.
10. Irfan’s stall shows panoramic views of the distant Red Fort, and of the nearer Jama Masjid. In Meena Bazar.
11. Salim Tea House has tables marked with cup rings of times past. In Matia Mahal.
12. Vasudev’s stall is adorned with very many potted plants. He daily feeds Cheeku, Tiger, Meena and Sheru—he himself named these street dogs. On Hauz Khas Village Road.
13. Pandit ji ki Chai overlooks a clock tower. Rickshaw pullers park here for short naps. In Hari Nagar’s Ghantaghar.
14. Juhi’s Tea offers numerous chai options, and has café-like pavement tables. In New Friends Colony.
15. Raja bhayya’s stall recently replaced Salim bhai’s stall. It overlooks a 14th century shrine. At Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s dargah.
16. Salim bhai’s stall has shifted, and is far fancier at the new location with its glossy white booth. On Church Road, Bhogal.
17. Shakir Hasan’s stall is special because of Shakir Hasan. Always dressed in formal pants-shirt; the shirt tucked neatly into his belted pants. In Bulbuli Khana.
18. Devi Prasad’s secluded stall is like a secret getaway, full of soothing calm. In an alley in Paharganj’s Main Bazar.
19. Thermos wali chai is sold by Lodhi Garden vendors, who stroll along the lawns with tea flasks and paper cups.
20. Meraj bhai “chai wale” fearlessly wades into super-crowded alleys while holding a tray full of chai glasses. In Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti. See photo.