Dalmoth is a popular snack across Uttar Pradesh today, with Bengal and Delhi having their own versions called Chanachur and Dal Biji.
Whether it is week-long vacation or a weekend getaway, preparation is really important for any trip. I like to prepare an itinerary and chalk out all the well-known tourist spots to see and eat in the unknown land. My recent two-day getaway to Agra turned out to be quite an eye-opener for me. While I was only equipped with the knowledge of the city’s famous petha, Agra had much more to offer. After strolling around the Agra fort and taking umpteen amount of photos at the grand Taj Mahal, food was next on our list. We headed to a famous restaurant to savour a hearty North Indian lunch.
However, on the way, I noticed several small carts selling heaps of a mixture by the side of the road. The signage on each read, Agra’s famous Dalmoth. Intrigued foodies stopped the car on one side and walked over to one of the vendors to find out about this unique dish. The vendor told us that it is a street snack in the city which is savoured for breakfast, with tea and even during meals. A combination of fried lentils (moth dal), spices and sev, dalmoth is a crunchy and crispy snack that has plenty of variations today. Before we delve any further into that, let us dig deeper into the origins of this street food.
From Agra to Farrukhabad, Dalmoth’s Crispy Journey
With the intermingling of cultures and travel, there is no longer a clear distinction as to what belongs where. After all, don’t we see the Mumbaikars hogging on pavs brought to us by Portuguese? However, dalmoth has been born and brought up in Uttar Pradesh itself. We can’t really point to a specific place of origin but there are three points on the map that talk of its origin story. These are Farrukhabad, Bareilly and Agra.
Source: Bansal Petha/Facebook
It is said that Farrukhabad is the dalmoth capital of Uttar Pradesh, wherein a man started making dalmoth at home some 150-200 years ago and popularized it across the city. Potatoes were produced in large quantities in Farrukhabad and this gave way to an alu lachha dalmoth with hing from neighbouring Hathras. The fried grated potatoes were a hit among the English officials too and these locals travelled to other parts of the state, carrying their dalmoth.
The spicy variations of the same dalmoth can be found in Agra whose tartness comes from the use of pepper instead of red chilli. The popularity of dalmoth in Agra is equivalent to the petha of the city and given the large chain of Panchi brand, which sells dalmoth, in city is a major reason why it is believed to have originated here. Bareilly offers a milder version of dalmoth with melon seeds and cashew nuts.
While the exact birthplace of the street snack remain unclear, it’s huge fan fare is unhindered by this fact. From kids to adults, you’ll find the locals popping this crispy mixture in their mouths all day long. While machines have been developed to churn out large quantities, the essence still lies in the hand-mixed and ghee-fried dalmoth of the olden days.