Rabdi and Other Sweet Memories of Benaras
An old man with a few days’ stubble greets me faintly as I step into his shop at Benaras. It is among the 100-odd nondescript establishments sitting on both sides of Kachori Gali. There is nothing on display in the shop window. For a moment I wonder if I have landed up at the wrong place. But the man, in his seventies, dispels my misgiving. Surveying the shop (which I visited in early October) my eyes hover over a wooden almirah with a meshed door hanging from the wall, the not too smooth stone flooring and the small earthen pots kept in a basket.
Famous for its ‘rabri’ and ‘kalakand’, Laxmi Misthan Bhandar will give even the best of sweetmeat shops anywhere in India a run for their money. And I am sure it will not do badly in Denmark either, known for its dairy products the world over. ‘Rabri’ available at this shop is soft and crumbly, with a strong flavour of ‘kewra’ and rosewater. Dollops of thick creamy milk are spread over it liberally. But the sweetness of this ‘rabri’ is never cloying. The milk used here is so pure that once it is allowed to simmer on low fire it produces out-of-this-world ‘rabri’ and ‘kalakand’.
Among the many memories of Benaras that I shall always cherish are its bustling narrow lanes, people jostling for street food, kiosks selling piping hot tea, fine arts students sketching at the Ganga ghats, a boat ride to bathe off the opposite bank of the river, a visit to Kashi Vishwanath temple and, of course, Laxmi Misthan Bhandar, famous for its mouth-watering ‘rabri’.
Contributed By: Dilip Singh