They say, the moment before dawn breaks, the night sky is at its darkest. And at this ‘no-longer-night, not-yet-morning’ hour you’ll find all the shutters are down in the dimly lit streets of Bhopal; except one. Gupta stall at the end of Chhola Road is abuzz with customers waiting to conclude their day with a hot plate of “Poha Pride.” While the world sleeps, this stall is the hub of action all through the night. The sizzling of spices in piping-hot oil lending itself to the silence of the night.
Nearly 40 years since it first set up shop in the city, Gupta Poha continues to whip up sensations in the locals’ minds as they take generous helpings of the spicy flattened rice garnished with fresh coriander and Ratlami sev. For travelers and tourists, the hours of the stall may seem odd; but for a weary businessman or a watchman, steaming hot poha is the perfect antidote for an enervating day. From businessman, watchmen, taxi drivers in the late hours of night to milkmen, newspapermen and students at the wake of dawn, Gupta Poha Stall has its arms open for customers 24*7.
‘Poha Pride’ takes spicy food to a whole new level
An Indian’s spice tolerance is the stuff legends are made of and ‘Poha Pride’ takes spicy food to a whole new level. Catering to all the spice-lovers of the world, it is a creation of owner, Abhishek Gupta. With the pungent aroma of turmeric and onion infusing the air, one is certain to find a version of Poha Pride at every poha stall on the street. This spicy-sour combination is what gets Bhopalis going as early as 4am and relives their fatigue at 2am.
To put it simply, Bhopalis just cannot do without Poha in their life. And while one can trace the origin of this dish to the Mughal Empire, it has stood the test of time in the form of various variations.
Only stall at Nagda Bus stand to have taken measures for women’s safety
Evolution with time is important, whether it concerns the food or the stall from where its bought. Gupta Poha Stall has the distinction of being the only stall at Nagda Bus stand to have taken measures for women’s safety. With 4 CCTV cameras, Mr Gupta aims to ensure complete safety at his stall, especially during the late hours of the day.
Not just security, the management is very serious about maintaining cleanliness at the stall, as well, something that wasn’t their top priority a couple of decades ago. “Belonging to the new generation, we know that cleanliness is a must. We’ve taken measures to keep our stall as clean as can be,” claims owner Abhishek Gupta, who is also the first in the area to have installed a refrigerator at his stall.
Although not labelled “The city that never sleeps”, the streets of Bhopal, Chhola Road to be specific, are forever buzzing with the clink-clank of metal spatulas preparing a hot plate of poha. So, the next time hunger pangs hit you at 4 am, think about the streets of Bhopal and plan a trip to experience street-food like nowhere else.
(Story by Diva Agarwal)