RAJEEV KHANNA | 8 DECEMBER, 2015
Whenever one thinks of burgers, American multinational names pop up. But in the quaint little pristine town of Kasauli, it is the local burger dished out at a small sweet shop that rules, leaving the big boys far behind.
The clientele of Narinder Sahu of Tannu Sweet Shop includes pretty high profile names like Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and the late writer Khushwant Singh besides others.
Narinder is the man behind the show, and is known by his shop Tannu. It is the magic word, that brings smiles on the faces of the locals as they guide you readly to his shop. The desi burger has Narinder’s stamp. Delicious aalu tikki burger, or a mouth watering samosa burger with local chutneys (sauces). And then of course the chef’s signature burger, with steaming gulab jamuns stuffed inside.
“When the Air Force station came up here in 1980s, there were a whole lot of South Indians who looked for something that was a bit less sweet yet more filling. One of them actually asked me for a bun and a plate of gulab jamuns which he stuffed inside and ate before me. I tried it as a recipe and it clicked and continues till date. There were some more of them who even tried the sweet sour combination of stuffing both a tikki and a gulab jamun inside the same bun,” Narinder alias Tannu says.
The burgers that took off at a price of Rs 5 in the early eighties today cost a reasonable Rs 30. “Many of my customers tell me that I would still be selling the same number even if I hike my prices but that is something my conscious does not allow,” says the third generation sweet maker from the family that moved to Kasauli almost a hundred years back.
“There have been business proposals coming my way with the changing times. A shopping mall owner from Bangalore offered me a shop in his mall for free but I refused. Who can leave the peace of the hills and the love that we have got from the people here. My customers come from all over and do not fail to take some packed burgers back home,” he says.
This reporter was a witness to Farooq Abdullah paying a brief courtesy visit to the tiny shop during the recent Khushwant Singh Literature Festival in Kasauli. A lot many of Tannu’s customers have been the students of high profile Lawrence School Sanawar.
“I came to visit my school and there was no way that I would have left without savoring my favorite burger here,” said Jansher Mohammed, an Afghan student who had studied at Sanawar some years ago.
The VIP accolades, and articles in the media have not taken away the graciousness from Tannu. He continues to greet and serve his customers with the same effervescent charm.