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What: Ah, the Indian mango. If you’re here during the spring-summer season, the payoff for enduring the often-oppressive heat is access to the best mangoes in the world. Lots of them, sold on practically every street; encased in a thick traveler-friendly skin, dripping with sweet juices, and bursting with pure mango flavor. There are countless varieties of mango here, all with exotic-sounding names—safeda, langda, dussehri, chausa, fazli, rataul, Alphonso—and all, we’d hazard a guess, delicious. What you find will depend on where you go and when you’re here. But equally wonderful is the season’s byproduct: all the foods that appear on the Delhi scene featuring the versatile mango. Elsewhere we discuss the mango lassi and mango kulfi; here we’ll focus on the more unexpected mango sandwich and thick mango shake.
Where: We have the Eat and Dust blog to thank for introducing us to the beautiful mango sandwich at Jain Coffee House (2391-8925; Raghu Ganj, Chawri Bazaar, map), a small family-owned shop tucked—quite literally—off an alleyway in Old Delhi. (See directions below.)
Though Jain does both sandwiches and shakes, our favorite mango shake came courtesy of the original Giani di Hatti (651-652, Church Mission Rd., map), in Old Delhi near Fatehpuri Masjid. Giani’s is better known for its rabri faluda, but its mango shake, when available in season, is to die for. (Thanks, Delhi Food Adventure, for this tip!)
Good to know: To find Jain, walk up Chawri Bazaar from the metro station, turn left at Shri Gujrat Namkeen Bhandar onto Charkhewalan Gali (it’s before the main intersection with Nai Sarak), then make a quick right turn into a narrow lane, which looks less like an alley than a hallway. (At the time of our visit, this lane had a square blue sign above it reading Abhipra.) Take this lane till it opens up into a square of sorts, and you’re in Raghu Ganj, once the city’s main granary; Jain will be just on your left. (Note: Other blogs, such as Eating Out in Delhi, suggest another way of entering the square, directly from Chawri Bazaar, just past the Gujrat shop, though we didn’t take this route ourselves.)
When: Jain is open Mon-Sat, 9am-8pm. Giani di Hatti is open daily, 10am-11:30pm.
Order: At Jain, it’s all about the summers-only mango sandwich (pictured, 30 rupees)—kind of a Brit-Desi mashup, using seasonal fruits. The sandwich, on crustless soft white bread, combines juicy sliced mango with paneer, butter, a sweet orangey jam, and a masala that the staff told us was “fruit powder”—maybe mango powder, if that’s the case. We’ve heard other iterations of the mango sandwich have included sliced grapes and pomegranate seeds, though ours did not. Regardless, it’s delicious—a refreshing, sweet, dainty delight consumed in quiet, dim quarters that feel a world away from Chawri Bazaar’s hustle and bustle (Jain has a teeny sitting area). Other sandwiches you might find here include apple, guava, tomato, and grape.
As for the rich mango shake (75 rupees) at Giani’s, it’s made of milk, mango pulp, and fresh mango. Don’t even think twice—just get one.
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