Khasta in a Box

Gol Darwaza

“Our home is on the Gudiya Ghat—Sahebdeen and Radheshyam Gupta were the only two people who used to sell khasta from a box. Of these two pioneers who introduced the people of Lucknow to this style, Radheshyam was my grandfather. We set up the box by 6 AM, filled with khasta, dry curried potatoes and green chutney. We don’t use ginger, garlic or onions. Our khastas are made in three styles—first karari (well-done), second mulayam (soft) and third, medium. The soft ones are for the toothless, medium ones for those whose teeth aren’t that strong, and for those who have strong teeth, the karari! My grandfather has taught us the art of cooking khasta to suit the strength of everyone’s teeth. Now I set up my box myself. Earlier I would work with Papa (Manoj Gupta), but now I am by myself. I work from 6 AM to 2 PM. Papa used to serve pooris as well. In those times we used a wooden box, now it is made of steel. A khasta used to cost 25 paisa. There is a 90 year old gentleman who lives near Gol Darwaza. He comes to me at 6 AM every morning for his khasta. Even though he has no teeth, he has one soft khasta. I derive great satisfaction by serving him.” Manoj told us all this during a conversation in November 2021. A few days later, we came to know that he is ill and hospitalized. He had a kidney ailment, and Coronavirus infection on top of that. He left the world on 08/01/2022. Our best wishes for the third generation, to finish mourning and take up the legacy.