Local flavours: Pindi’s dahi bhallay a must for snack lovers

Published: November 15, 2015
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Freshly prepared papri, boondi, and bhalla are the main ingredients of the chaat. PHOTO: SHAZIA MEHBOOB/EXPRESS

Freshly prepared papri, boondi, and bhalla are the main ingredients of the chaat. PHOTO: SHAZIA MEHBOOB/EXPRESS

RAWALPINDI: If you are a lover of savoury snacks, the delicious and refreshing dahi bhallas at Basho Chaat located in Afshan Colony, Rawalpindi is the place to be. 

Dahi Bhallay is a popular South Asian spiced yogurt snack, and the eatery owned by Bashir Hussain is one of the most popular in the city.

Hussain, popularly known as “Basho Uncle”, started off with selling chaat on a push cart when he was in his teens. Later, he spent many years working at a school canteen. Hussain is now in his mid 60s.

The eatery he owns in Afshan Colony is a humble outlet.  Though the place operates without a signboard, “Basho Chaat Wala” attracts locals from across the city.

The eatery provides seating for 15 customers at any given time. In spite of shortage of space, there is always a queue of customers at Hussain’s outlet.

“During peak hours, your order can take a little time,” said Hussain.

Freshly prepared papri, boondi, and bhalla are the main ingredients of Hussain’s chaat, which is available in sweet, sour and spicy flavours.

“Khatti chutney flavour is my favourite,” said Rania Tabassum, a teacher by profession, and a loyal customer.

Naseem Begum said the chaat was a popular snack at her family gatherings.

To make sure they serve the best quality chaat, Hussain and his family prepare all the ingredients at home.

“It is the taste that has made our chaat popular,” Hussain shared.

Before setting up the current eatery, Hussain has served his chaat at the canteen of FG Girls School Abid Majeed Road for 25 years.

Sharing his business plans, Hussain said that for him expanding the shop would mean a compromise on quality, since he and his family prepare everything at home. “We will not be able to prepare adequate quantity of chaat at home if we expand any further…my wife is also not well these days,” he added.

Hussain said that his wife had been an equal partner in their business. “She prepares papdi, boondi and bhallay,” he explained.

“I love my work and I am happy that I earn an honest living that gives me peace of mind,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.

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