Shukla Chai

Hazratganj

In 1930, Lalta Prasad Shukla set up this shop. Initially, they dealt only in milk, yogurt and milk barfi. Later they started serving pooris. In 1965, tea was offered for the first time, and became so popular that the pooris took a back seat. Lalta Prasad’s son Gyan Shankar took over from him in 1978. By this time, ‘Shukla Chai’ was famous in Hazratganj. It caught the eye of the U. P. Tourism department in 1980, and soon became a “must-visit” destination for tourists as well. Today, Gyan Shankar, his son Govind and grandson Vedansh run the shop. Gyan Shankar reminisces: “…my father used to say that the Brooke Bond people used to pack tea leaves in wooden tea chests. Tea was made for the first time here using Brooke Bond’s Rose Brand tea leaves.” Even today, tea is made in the traditional way—water is boiled separately for steeping tea leaves, hot milk and sugar are added to the customer’s taste.

Samosas are made using whole spices ever since the beginning. All that has changed here are the ceramic tiles on the walls; everything else is the same as before. And, of course, what used to sell for one anna now sells for ten rupees. “Customers used to have a healthy appetite earlier. It was normal to have a quarter-kilogram of sweets and a large earthenware ‘kullhad’ of milk. Pooris were sold by weight. A person would usually have 250 grams of pooris—7 to 9 of them in one go. A dry dish of vegetables would be served with pooris and kachoris. The trend of serving chhole came much later.

The Shuklas have great love for Lucknow. Gyan Shankar says: “I’ve travelled to many cities, but there is no place like Lucknow. Wherever I used to go, people would hear me speak and make out, rather recognize, and ask ‘are you from Lucknow?’”