Delhi is famous for its street food, including aloo chaat. Because of the popularity of chaat in Delhi, there are many famous street food vendors selling it all around the city, right from the congested lanes of Purani (old) Delhi to Kamla Nagar.
But this week, Patriot brings to its readers the inspirational story of the world-famous “Netflix chaatwala”.
The actual name of the shop is Mangla Chaat Wale.
Owner Dalchand Kashyap was inspired by his grandpa and his father, who continued the family custom of selling chaat.
Featured in the Netflix Documentary Street Food, Dalchand has exhibited his chaat in nations such as Singapore and the Philippines, bringing attention to the Indian delicacy all across the world.
Dalchand tells Patriot that the show turned his whole world around.
“I was transformed by the show from zero to hero. I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined that I would one day make it global. I get messages from all over the world. My kiosk receives a lot of tourists. As a result, everyone recognises me. That change has been wonderful.”
Journey full of ups and downs
However, the road has not been easy for the Daalchand family. Like many, making chaat came to Dalchand from his grandfather, who used to run a chaat hand-cart years ago in Delhi. Later, his father joined the league.
Daalchand tells how his father used to run his stall in front of the Delite Cinema.
“My father’s recipes in the 80s were so popular that people would come from far-off places to have his chaat. We were four brothers. When I was in my teens, my father started falling ill very often and was unable to take care of the business, so he gave the responsibility of running his chaat business to my elder brother.
“But unfortunately, it didn’t work like he expected it to. My brother was addicted to drugs, and therefore, he couldn’t work properly. Eventually, we had to shut the business down, and everything fell apart. Even earning a living and running the family at that time became difficult,” he says.
“When we relocated from Purani Delhi to Mayur Vihar in 1988, I had a tragic accident, which caused our firm to shut down for around four years. When we first moved to Mayur Vihar, the days were difficult and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. It was my sister Krishna, who helped me out. I’ll be grateful to her all my life,” says Dalchand.
Dalchand eventually found the confidence to turn up to work with the encouragement of his sister.
“She gave me a loan after selling some of her own jewels, and as a result, I was able to start a modest business in Mayur Vihar in 1992. It has been running successfully for the last 31 years.”
Additionally, Dalchand’s other brother returned to the family business at about the same time. They gave the stall the name “Sohan Lal Dalchand Mangla Chaat Wale” in honour of their late brother.
But something was wrong since the clients weren’t responding. Then he remembered something his father had once said to him: ‘Focus on the flavour of your food rather than chasing money. If it’s nice, customers will return and business will increase’.
After a while, people started coming to his stall every day to eat chaat and aloo tikki. He has two sons and a daughter who help him operate his booth and make chaat. His family is quite supportive, and they all live together.
After this, many people started noticing him and started calling him Netflix wale bhaiya (Brother from Netflix). He even started getting offers from various nations to their culinary festivals, where he’d showcase India’s most under-appreciated and affordable street food, aloo chaat.
The local chaat maker found his place on the global gastronomic map, where he is putting India’s name too.
He has visited several nations, including the Philippines, Turkey, Sydney, the United States, and many more.
Dalchand tells Patriot that his father always told him not to compromise on quality and flavour of the spices for the sake of saving money, and that’s exactly what has saved his business.
“The sales increased almost tenfold and business reached a new level. Now we’re invited to several food fests all over the country and world which is quite enthralling for a middle-class family,” adds Dalchand.
Dalchand had always wanted to do something for the Indian Army, so following his success, he decided to give everybody who serves in the Indian Army free dinner at his Mangla Chaat Wale booth.
He shares an interesting story, “Back in my childhood, I had a dream of becoming an actor. Then, as I grew older, I realised that acting isn’t something I can pursue as a career. But maybe it’s destiny that one way or the other, I got to be in front of the camera and that changed my life.”
Talking about plans on expanding his business, Dalchand says, “I am planning to open more franchises throughout the city once my son and daughter complete their education. I get a lot of offers and hopefully I am going to act on them soon.”
Dalchand concludes by saying that over the years there were stages that all of it felt impossible, but it were the values and consistent hard work that put him out of difficult situations.
“Sometimes I realise that it is my father’s blessings that have also helped me get where I am today.”