Jagdish Mishthan Bhandar

Karari Tola, Chowk

About 60 years ago, when he was only about six years old, Jagdish’s father passed away. His mother Lalita Devi left her native Lakhimpur Kheri for Lucknow. In Lakhimpur, Lalita used to augment family income by grinding soaked lentils into a paste for use in various dishes. She started this business in Lucknow as well. Soon, she started making khasta by herself, and her six-year old would hawk them in the winding bylanes of the old town. Very soon, they could afford to put up a stand and then a hand cart near Karai Tola. The business grew, and they acquired proper premises. Jagdish’s son, Sachin, too started helping out at the shop from a very young age. About 20-30 years ago, he took over the responsibility entirely. Jagdish only supervises the activities now. Sachin admits that many things have changed since his father’s time. Food used to be cooked on a coal-fired clay oven earlier, and is now cooked on a gas stove. Spices that were ground on a grindstone are now processed in a mixer. Chhole were served in a clay crock earlier; now they use a bowl made of palaash leaves. Diverse kinds of pooris and kachauris are their speciality. Some are stuffed with a filling such as spiced mashed potatoes or soaked lentils, or during the winters, the dough is mixed with bathua leaves and rolled out into pooris. They have a side line business of dalmoth made with masoor dal and other savoury snacks. For a few months in the winters, they also sell green peas, the way they were prepared by Lalita Devi. Sachin’s mother Urmila Devi prepares them now. All the employees are from Jagdish’s time and have been trained in the craft on the job. Sachin says, “We get to learn something new everyday, and most often, we implement what we learn. We keep adding new kinds of pooris to the menu all the time. For now, the objective is to grow this business as much as possible.”