Near Koneshwar Temple, Chowk
Saroj Awasthi’s grandfather started this business in 1973, selling milk, curds, lassi and kachchi malai (also known as balai in Lucknow). It still operates from the same location adjacent to the doorway of the Koneshwar temple and is counted as one of the established shops of the locality. They are famous for their kachchi malai. This creamy sweet is relished in Banaras, but the fastidious clientele of Lucknow tends to avoid it. Only gourmets of the old school come to his shop to try the malai. Saroj doesn’t remember his grandfather’s name, but he not only remembers his father Shatrughan Pandey, but all that he was taught by him to this day. Saroj has a law degree, but prefers his family business over legal practice. Saffron-flavoured chilled milk (kesaria doodh) is the most in demand in the summer months, while between diwali and holi its place is taken over by hot reduced milk (garam doodh). Plain milk is available all the year round. “We never tried to make a name for ourselves—our customers made us famous.” Perhaps it is this kind of simplicity, honesty and plain-spokenness that attracts the bustle of customers to the shop.