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Sharma Kachori wale- Age old romance of Aaloo and Kachori

We all have spent our entire childhood listening to the quote ‘Old is Gold’. Having served the numerous generations of Saddi Dilli from decades, this ‘hole in the wall’ street food joint ‘Sharma Kachodi Wale’ is the perfect example for that quote which indeed is very famous for its perfect and  crispy Kachodi (an Indian snack made of maida which is deep fried) along with mouth watering and drool worthy Aaloo curry (potato curry )around the walled city. It lies on the main road towards Shakti Nagar Chowk which is very  near to Kamla Nagar. People gather around like flock of birds to satiate their taste buds with such a legendary serving without even burning a hole in their pocket.

This joint serves five matthi kachodis which are basically kachodis with the stuffing dipped in the ‘perfectly spiced and seasoned’ aaloo curry with a taste which could make every person on this planet drool over. What makes this place even more special is the price at which it offers this delicacy, which indeed is so low that even a broke college student would be able to afford. It offers one serving of the dish at price as low as 20 rupees which is why we can see the people from all the working classes having their bite here.

In this era, where street cuisines have a very tough time competing  among themselves ‘Sharma Kachodi wale’ makes this simplest dish stand out and make the hearts of gourmands melt in satisfaction as they munch in a bite of this simple yet so legendary dish. I have always heard my uncle describe this place as one of his favourite joints to grab a quick snack since his childhood. He always adds the phrase ‘consistent taste’ whenever he describes it , which shows how famous this joint is for its consistency and the legendary taste accompanied by their swift and uninterrupted service despite a large amount of people eager to fill their mouths with the gem which this place offers.

No matter how many new and famous hotspot food joints open with time , ‘Sharma Kachodi wale’ will always be the showstopper whenever our taste buds crave for a light and tantalizing snack.

 

Shop Name : Sharma Kachodi Wale

Address: Main Road towards Shakti Nagar chowk , opposite Kaleva

Phone number: + 918800818189

Owner Name : Vijay Rathore

In a world full of samosas, be a KACHORI and that too if it is from such a legendary joint.
#sharmakacoriwala
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Discovering a happy eatery : Bistro 57

18th July 2017:

Scorching sun, enough to pierce deep through the skin and make a person thirsty in seconds. Also, the college admissions time ; moving to a new city , getting used to new things, staying away from home. I was a new girl in the unknown city who was just done with her college admissions and shifting into a hostel. I still remember my first day here, everything felt so different. I was normally chatting with my roommate about the famous places to visit nearby i.e. Kamla Nagar, New Delhi which led to the discovery of this ‘Happy Eatery’ called Bistro 57.

The name sounded fascinating enough to me, so fascinating that I wanted to go there without even wasting a minute. We were all set, wearing our cool summer clothes, setting the destination as ‘Bistro 57’ on the Google Maps. After a short walk, we entered a small street with a lot of eateries among which ‘Bistro 57’ was one of them. It was a small pop shop with loads of variety , from milkshakes to cold coffee to quick bites like garlic bread and sandwiches. With a question mark on our faces we asked for help from a fellow customer to help us with our order. “What is the best thing that we can have from here? ” we asked, “Bistro has a PhD in all their dishes, nothing will disappoint you here.” he replied with a proud grin on his face.

A wise man once said ‘Classics are always the best’ which indeed made us choose the all time classics i.e. cold coffee and pizza. The swift service was what made us love the place even more despite the swarm of  people mostly, the college going fellows waiting for their pre placed order. The taste of the much needed ‘caffeine’ along with perfectly blended milk and sugar of  right consistency and the drool worthy sizzling pizza with a crispy crust, perfectly baked toppings and loads of cheese was what made our day. To our surprise the bill came out to be so nominal for such a great quantity of food, enough to force us to skip dinner at the hostel.

Today , a year passed and ‘Bistro 57’ still stands untouched at rank ‘one’  on my list of the perfect eateries around Kamla Nagar which has never disappointed me with any of its variety. This rustic yet popular and inexpensive eatery will always remain as the show stopper of our ‘Chatori Lane’.

Shop Name : Bistro 57

Location : Behind McDonald’s  (kamla nagar ) , Jawahar Nagar , New Delhi

Contact number : +91 9560805504

Owner’s name : Sameer Rawat


Sometimes the smallest streets serve the most elite treats. This small gem at Kamla Nagar is a MUST try !
#Bistro57

 

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Chache Di Hatti : A Saviour  from the Mid-lecture Hunger

Did you ever regret skipping breakfast before leaving for college? Ever felt so hungry in between the lectures that your stomach actually sounds like a dying whale? Well , if you are a north campus student at DU and so down with hunger but have nothing more than 50-55 bucks to spare , the mighty chole (chickpea curry) and  bhature ( fluffy deep fried bread made of maida)  comes to your rescue at this small shop at Kamla Nagar called ‘Chache Di Hatti’. It is located at the nukkad of a small street opposite to the keventers .This shop can be a recognized from a certain distance due to the crowd of people waiting in queues to gulp up the drool worthy bhature with some spicy chole and chutney.

Although, you don’t get a huge variety of options at this place which in turn shows the limited options which ‘Chache di Hatti’ is best at. It serves two types of bhature which differ in nothing but the type of stuffing, one is the plain bhatura and other one is the potato stuffed bhatura. According to the owner, this shop is approximately five to six decades old and is carried on by the third generation at present. In its early days, the rates of one serving of chole bhature was as low as 20 rupees and after years passed, the price is still very affordable. When you stand in the queue and look around at the crowd, you will see majority as the college students with backpacks on their back and a proud grin on their face realising how much this place is worth bunking a lecture. There are approximately 6 to 7 staff members standing as the pillars of this most famous joint in the national capital , who are more than swift in taking and preparing orders despite the never ending queue of the crowd.

‘Chache di Hatti’ is at most known for its consistent taste and the  position at which it stands above all peer competitors all around ‘Saddi Dilli’.Some middle aged people standing in the queue can  often be seen looking back to and discussing the good old days and how they used to sneak out of lectures to grab a bite at this joint which is something that tickles nostalgia and gets a smile on their face ,which indeed will continue over generations due to the pride which ‘Chache Di Hatti’ holds due to its consistent and legendary serving of happiness in the form food which makes it so mandatory to visit and become a hardcore fan of.

 

Shop Name : Chache Di Hatti

Address : Kamala Nagar, Opposite lane of Keventers near All Smile dental clinic.

Owner Name : Kamal Kishore

Phone Number :9811389963

 

There isn’t a sadness which cannot be cured by ‘CHOLE BHATURE’ especially when it is served by the most legendary corner of the city.

 

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Jammu Street Food Tour

Jammu Street Food Tour

Situated on the bank of Tawi river, Jammu is the largest city in the Jammu division. Also known as city of temples, Jammu is the focal point for the pilgrims going to Vaisho Devi and Kashmir valley. All my early visits were just to pay my obeisance to Vaishno Devi. However, this time the objective was to explore the local street food. I tied up with Nikhil, a student and a local food enthusiast for the food journey in Jammu. After almost a long drive of 8 hours, stopping at Ludhiana briefly for dinner at the famous chawla’s chicken for cream chicken, we reached Jammu.

The food journey in Jammu started on a sweet note with Jugal Kishore Sharma halwa stall at City Chowk. Priced at Rs 20 per plate, the stall is set up briefly for 3 hours in the morning and people line up just for a plate of sweet suji halwa. The halwa is cooked in pure ghee. The bottom burnt part of the halwa known as Karara is enjoyed by the locals. I loved it too. The charming personality of Jugal Kishore, a big fan of Bollywood films and songs adds another flavour to the halwa. Ask him about any old song, he will tell you the lyricist, musician and singer at once.

Next, we walked to Raghunath Bazar to have the typical North Indian breakfast chole poori at Chhaju di hatti. Aloo Chole sabzi is topped with dahi, onion and pickles to be served with poori.

Mool Ram Tea stall in Raghunath bazar is one of the shops known for bread toast and tea. The warm and crispy charcoal toasted small sized bread is slathered with a thick layer of butter. The charcoal adds a smoky flavour to it. Enjoyed with a hot cup of milk tea, it was a complete breakfast for us.

After having our breakfast and tea in Raghunath bazar, we reached Kacchi Chawani for Kachalu (colocasia) at Girdhari Kachalu wale. Established in 1956, Girdhari’s shop reminded me of Amritsar’s Lubhaya ram aam papad wale. We tried a little bit of all dishes, a mixture of sweet and tangy! We tried kachalu, imly and anardana. Boiled kachalu is sliced and seasoned with tamarind sauce, kalonji, black salt and spices. There are two variants – spicy with red chillies and non-spicy without red chillies. Both imly and anardana are simply served with black salt.

We stopped briefly for banta- lemon drink at Fattu Choughan, Dhani ji di hatti. The walls of the shop are adorned by the who’s who of Jammu and Kashmir.

The highlight of the food exploration for me was Katlama, phenni, sund at a 125 years old establishment – Jalliya di hatti in Jain Bazar. In Delhi’s Nizamuddin area, the katlamas are usually big size paranthas served with halwa. However, in Jammu, Katlama are mostly eaten around Karwa Chauth festival when women fast for their husband.  It is simply made of dough of refined flour (maida) deep fried in clarified butter (ghee). There are two variants of the same- sweet and plain. The plain ones are relished with tea and the sweet ones, usually with milk. Another dish known as sund is similar to panjeeri – a mix of dry fruits and whole wheat flour. Additionally, their chocolate burfi was the best I ever had.

One dish that defines Jammu street food is Kalari Kulcha. Kalari is a dense matured cheese made from buffalo milk. The solid part is packed and sun dried so that it looses the moisture. It tastes similar to mozzarella cheese. I still wonder why it never became popular outside Jammu region. The round shaped kalari is sautéed in its own fat and served with sweet and spicy chutney with bun. We tried kalari kulcha at three different places in Jammu- Pehalwan’s, Sardar di hatti and Ramesh Kachalu. My personal favourite was Ramesh Kachalu in Pacca Danga. At Ramesh kachalu shop, the chutney onion are served separately. One can get the real taste of kalari in it.

For Lunch, we went to 120 years old Nave Shehar wale da dhaba near Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, Pacca Danga. The shop is owned by a humble and kind man, Shri Darshan lal ji. We tried Rajma, dal, matar paneer, anar dane ki chutney, rice, and tandoori roti. The food is all cooked on a wooden fire in traditional utensils like deshka and sagla. Deshka and Sagla are made up of 7 metals, the food cooked in them adds a different flavour all together.

The other place where we tried Rajma was at Banwari’s shop in Raghunath Bazar. Here, I tried quite a unique combination with rajma – that was kulcha or bun. To my surprise it tasted delicious. The small bite size pieces of bun are soaked in the thick gravy of rajma. The bun absorbs the juices and gravy of rajma which makes it delectable. They are topped with onion and anar dana chutney. Although, Banwaril has rice in the menu but the locals prefer kulcha and rajma. One can also ask for fried paneer in the same.

The best sweet shop in Jammu is Pehalwan’s. Established in 1934, the roots of the shop can be traced back to 1920’s when Anant Ram Abrol used to work in a sweet shop owned by his mentor Mani Ram Pahalwan in Machhi Hatta, Lahore. Anant Ram learned the art of making sweets from Pehalwan and opened up his first sweet shop in Jammu in 1934. All the sweets we tried here- dry fruit laddo, anjeer burfi were exceptional.

On the second day, Nikhil invited us to his home for lunch. We had matar paneer, khameera (bread made with yeast), babroo (fried khameera), ambal (pumpkin cooked with tamarind in mustard oil) chana dal (lentils) and aloo paneer (potatoes with cottage cheese).

The food tour in Jammu ended on a meaty note at Residency road. I was joined by my old friends Nisar and Iqbal, the meat lovers, for some barbeque meat, locally known as tujj. The meat pieces are cooked with fat and served with chutney. The most famous shop is Billu da dhaba where one can try kebabs, and tawa fried dishes.

The only disappointment was that we couldn’t try khatta meat at parsuram shop because it was closed for two consecutive days and missed the meat and kulthi di dal.

But it will be a good excuse to visit Jammu soon, craving for more!

 

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Bhubaneswar Food Tour

Bhubaneswar Food Tour

Also known as the city of temples, Bhubaneswar is the capital of Odisha, and one of our final destinations in Odisha.

One name that pops up if you ask any local person for food in Bhubaneswar is Lingaraj Lassi – a highly recommended Lassi shop in Shahid Nagar. The lassi comes in two different variants – simple lassi, priced at 45 and special lassi, priced at 55.

The lassi here was not like the one I have grown up drinking. The making of this lassi is simple- a layer of deep brown rabdi is settled at the bottom of the glass, then the real lassi – yogurt mixed with sugar and pineapple essence – is added over the rabri and finally finished with another layer of rabri, grated coconut and some cherries. I have tried the lassi at many places in India but never seen such big scale operations of this beverage. Infact,  Lingaaj lassi could be the highest lassi seller in India. Big cauldrons of rabri are kept on one side and on the other side are 100s of glasses of lassi. Plastic chairs are kept outside the shop for people to sit and relish the summer drink at leisure.

Interestingly, we also tried bournvita lassi at Arjun tea stall near Mayfair hotel, Jaydev vihar. This was a mix of yogurt, sugar, and grated coconut, topped with bournvita.

Close to Lingaraj lassi shop are many street food carts selling chaat, gupchup and street delicacies. I tried the papdi chaat at Mayaram’s chaat cart. The papdi is layered with spicy mashed potatoes, sev, onion, coconut, peanuts, coriander, and sweet and spicy chutney. Another different take on chaat from north Indian style, there’s no use of yoghurt in this preparation.

I quite loved the khatti culture of Odisha. In every small town throughout India, there are chai addas where people assemble in the morning or evening for a cup of tea to catch up with friends or to discuss every day shenanigans, from their personal life to regional and national politics.

In some cities, the chai addas are known as Tapri. Here in Odisha they call them Khatti. My favourite khatti stall in Bhubaneshwar was Khonah tea stall in Shahid Nagar in the evening and another khatti stall in Old town near mausi maa flyover, where we had a delectable experience filled with mesmerizing chai, and even better conversation.

In the morning, I was joined by a team of food enthusiasts from Bellthebelly blog and coffebites, a tabloid in Bhubaneswar. We started with the traditional breakfast of Odisha- Poori Dalma at the hugely popular eatery near Ram Mandir – Sri Ram Tiffin Centre. The pooris are made up of whole wheat flour and are quite big in size. A highly nutritious dish, dalma is made with lentils and lots of vegetables. The chopped vegetables like green papaya, eggplant, pumpkin are boiled with lentils. Finally, they are tempered with panchphoran (a mix of five spices – fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, and fennel seeds. Dalma goes well with everything, be it rice or bread.

Next stop was Rabi mausa’s bara shop in Unit 6, Ganga Nagar. Not for the faint heart, he puts his fingers in boiling oil to fry the baras. In Delhi, pappu fish shop in Bara Hindu Rao and Ganesh fish shop in karol bagh also do the same. Over the years, their fingers become desensitised and they don’t feel the heat while frying their wares.

The baras, however, were quite different from the other places!  The batter of the baras were mixed with chopped onions. They were served fresh with ghughni.  What I liked the most was his chhena poda. Chhena poda literally means burnt cottage cheese. I liked the burnt outer skin of chhena poda, and can definitely say it was one of the Chena Podas I had in Odisha!

Chakuli, a popular breakfast dish in odisha is served with different combinations of accompaniments. In Cuttack, we tried it with chutney and ghugni. In Bhubaneshwar, we tried it with aloo dum. My favourite still remains Chakuli with chutney at Annapurna mausi’s chakuli shop.

The final stop was chai biskut, an open bikers café where the tea is served in kulhads (earthen cups).  Owned by Nirali, she generously fed us at her home with Baripada style mutton with murmura (puffed rice) besides the chai.

The highlight of the Bhubaneshwar food journey was the traditional Odiya meal at Odisha Hotel. Odisha hotel has two outlets in Bhubaneshwar – Shahid Nagar and Chandrasekharpur. We went to the new one in Chandrasekharpur and were joined by the owner Rajiv Rajveer for lunch. On the recommendation of the owner, I ordered Pakhala, badi chura, mutton kassa, rohi tawa fry, chilika crab, prawn curry, mix bhaja, rice and dal.

The highlight of the meal was Pakhala – a fermented rice dish seasoned with spices, curd and lemon. The boiled rice is strained of starch, and water is added into it, left overnight making the dish ready to be served as breakfast/lunch the next day. A highly nutritious meal for the farmers- it keeps them hydrated because of the water (torani), and the rice provides them energy. Pakhala has now made an entry into both mid-range restarutants to fine dining restaurants across India. It is so popular in Odisha that they celebrate Pakhala diwas on March 20th. Pakhala is mostly accompanied with fried dishes. It is simple but truly delicious.

My other two favourite dishes at Odisha hotel were badi chura and kakharu phula bhaja. Badi is dried lentils cake, crushed and seasoned with garlic and onion. Kakharu phula bhaja are pumpkin flower fritters. I loved pakhala with these two combinations.

The same evening, we were warmly welcomed at Alka Jena’s home to taste a wide and splendid array of Odiya pithas. A food blogger and photographer at www.culinaryexpress.com, she made us experience the following-

Poda Pitha  made  with rice flour, black gram,jaggery, dry fruits along with spices such as ginger,cardamom  and cloves which is part of a special festival in Odisha called Raja .

Kakara Pitha- made with wheat flour/semolina for the outer covering with a filling made from coconut and jaggery.

Arisa Pitha, which is mainly made during odia marriages is the most popular delicacy made from rice flour, jaggery, desi ghee and sesame seeds. This pitha is crisp from outside and soft from inside. It is also known as Ghee Pitha as it mainly made with desi ghee.

Manda Pitha, which is another variety of pitha made during Manabasa Gurubar Puja held in the holy month of Margashir. The traditional variety uses steamed rice flour for outer covering and coconut and jaggery for the stuffing.

Chinchu patarapitha, which are needle thin pancakes made from a batter of rice flour, and made with a muslin cloth in place of a laddle to come up with the super soft pancakes.

Muan pitha, which are steamed rice and lentil cakes made with turmeric ginger and green chili and tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves and served with chutney.

I got to try another kind of pitha – Enduri Pitha, at a magnificent property Kila Daljoda. The pitha was wrapped in turmeric leaves and served with date palm, jaggery, and coconut chutney. It is made during Prathamashtmi- a celebration of the eldest child in the family.

The most incredible and incomparable experience was of having prasad at ananta Vasudeva temple in the old town of Bhubaneshwar. The temple is easily accessible by all. One can also see the prasad preparations inside the temple and purchase them at anand bazar. Anand bazar is a part of the temple where prasad can be purchased from different food stalls. The food is served on dried leaves and in clay cups.

And the last stop in Bhubaneswar was Nimapada sweets in bapuji nagar. Here we tried the famous chhena jhilli – fried cottage cheese dipped in thin sugar syrup, which was the perfect end to this delicious journey!

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Pan Asian at its Best

The sleepy vicinity of Ansal Plaza has seen a dramatic overhaul over the last few years. My childhood was filled with innumerable unwilling shopping visits to this erstwhile godforsaken mall so it’s a welcome change to treat myself to some well-deserved delicious food several years later.

Walking into Triple 8 gives a distinct feeling of entering a theatre. The soft reds of the walls and the dim greys of the shadows sit comfortably on the eyes and offset the vibrancy of the flavours on the plate.

Our first course was a 5 Spiced Goat Brain Tempura with Spicy Mayonnaise. I have always been squeamish about offal and avoid it at all costs but I believe I am a convert. The crunch on the outside was expected but the cloud like consistency on the inside was a game changer. I knew I was in for a wonderful evening. We were then graced with two pork dishes which had both been braised and cooked for 6 hours – the Chilean Pork Spare Ribs Krapow with Red Chillies and Basil and the Pork Belly Yaki-Tori with a Spiced Miso Glaze. They were well balanced, crispy skinned and yum.

The attention to detail at Triple 8 is striking. The meat is meticulously chosen, often locally sourced, (along with spices) to promote sustainable farming while never compromising on quality. One of the dimsum dishes for example is made with Himalayan morels instead of truffles and I recommend you to try it over any of its meat brethren. The Head Chef, Vivek Rana who hails from the likes of Indian Accent in New York and Oberoi, not only loves his produce but also has a keen eye for interiors. The walls are adorned with monochromatic images of the restaurant’s food, the kind that leave you salivating even while you’re eating it. The bar which will hopefully soon have alcohol flowing from it is a thing of beauty.

Meanwhile, the food continued to amaze. Chicken Winglets Skewered with Pineapple had the right amount of barbecued Pineapple on the stick. I ofcourse, fall squarely in the pro-Pineapple bucket – in pizzas, chickens and life in general.

One can’t not eat sushi when in a restaurant like this, and so we did – a Sashimi and Nigiri Platter. It looked like a fish garden, if there ever were to be one. This was followed by Lamb Shank Malaca with Fried Mantao Bun. The bun was a tinge sweet and so exquisitely soft that it left us wanting more even in our inflated-bellied state. We ended the meal with a heady combination of Night Market Custard Bun and a Sticky Pudding Caramelized Banana.

Pan Asian food has always been home for me but it is rare to find a place with as much care and love for its food as Triple 8. To say that I had a good evening would be a disservice. I live for evenings like this and am already planning excuses to go back.

 

Location: 1st Floor, Ansal Plaza, New Delhi
Meal for Two: Rs. 3,000

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Puri Food Tour

Puri

Located on the eastern coast of India, Puri is one of the main pilgrimage centre for Hindus.

Just a few kilometres before you enter the temple town of Puri, there is a small village, Chandanpur, famous for its breakfast of Chura Kadamb with Dalma.

We stopped at Hotel Padmalaya this very meal. Chura (flattened rice) is soaked in water, kneaded like dough and mixed with rabri and chhena. I have grown up eating chura with dahi. This was the first time I tried chura with chhena and rabri. Truly, a heavenly combination. Chura kadamb is served with dalma – lentils cooked with lots of vegetable. It was one of the best breakfasts we had in Odisha!

Next we stopped at Battamangla hotel for Singhara and Dalma with a cup of chai. The chai was quite different from any of the other places in Odisha. It was topped with a thick layer of rabri. We also visited the kitchen and oversaw the preparation of dalma and singhara. Singhara is equivalent to samosa in Delhi but the filling is quite different here. The Singhara here had cubical size potatoes tempered with panch phoran stuffed in it. Honestly, we liked it  a little better than delhi style samosas. Dalma is something which can be relished with anything. In Bhubaneswar we had it with poori, in Chandanpur with chura kadamb and in Puri with singhara.

Finally after making our entry into the temple town, we straightaway headed to Jagannath temple. Camera/mobile phones are not allowed inside the temple complex. After paying our obeisance at the main temple, we took a Rs 5  ticket for a tour of temple kitchen. One cannot enter the main cooking area but can see the cooking from the wall windows. The food is cooked on a wood fire. There are around 700 cooks employed by the temple to prepare the meals. There are separate group of people to cut the vegetables. Once the prasad is cooked, it is sold at Anand Bazar, a separate space in the temple complex. We tried some of the dishes and loved them! The experience here overpowers the taste of the food.

At the western gate of the temple, Shankar sweets is the most popular sweet shop. We tried some of the traditional dishes here. The main prasad at Puri is Khaja. It comprises of a layered fried white flour dough soaked in sugar syrup, and is super yummy!

The oldest shop in the area is Nrusingha Sweets. Established in 1945, the shop is in Khajapati or Khaja Lane, Balishahi. There are many shops named after Nrusingha sweets.

In the evening, we went to Puri beach near swargdwar to try out some sea food. There are lines of stalls selling rolls, fried sea fish, crab, lobster, pomfret etc. They first wrap the fish in turmeric and salt, and half fry it. Hereafter the fish is finally wrapped in gunpowder and deep fried. The result is an excelled salty crispy fried fish. We tried the fried pomfret with chilly sauce.

Close to the beach, jhalmudi – a mix snack made with puffed rice is commonly available.

On the way back to the temple in the evening from swargdwar, we spotted a shop by the name Bula sweets. He was making fresh sev and boondi. It reminded us of our childhood days. We used to eat sev boondi and dahi. Sev is savoury fried chickpea flour noodles. It goes well with sweet and syrupy boondi, made again with chickpea flour, and dipped in sugar syrup. We also tried gaja – a close cousin of khaja- the only difference being it is not layered, but is just cubical shaped refined flour dough, deep fried and dunked in sugar syrup. It was moist and flaky inside but crunchy on the outside. 

Outside the main entrance of Jagannath temple, there is a food cart that sells matar ka paani in the evening. It is the broth of chickpeas seasoned with spices. The chickpeas are boiled on a wooden fire which adds a smoky flavour to the broth. It reminded us of lotanji chole kulche shop in Old Delhi. On a plate, the cart owner first crushes the black and green chillies, adds some broth of the chickpeas and sprinkles it with spices. Finally, it is served in steel bowls. It was a bit spicy but indeed flavourful!

After having matar ka paani we tried papuri or malai poori at one of the sweet shops in khaja street. Simply put, it is the thick cream of buffalo milk sprinkled with sugar. Buffalo milk is used because of its high fat content. Once the milk is boiled, it is laid to rest so that the cream is formed on the top. Once cooled, the milk is boiled again, and the process is repeated till a thick layer of cream is formed. Finally, with the help of twigs the cream is picked and put on a dried leaf plate- sprinkled with sugar and cut into pieces.

Our last stop in Puri was Chungwah restaurant- the only restaurant in Puri run by a Chinese family. The restaurant was packed by the time we reached there. We were so full with all the street food that we just ordered chungwah special soup- a mix of prawns and chicken soup and cantonese style noodles served with half fried eggs.

On the way back to Bhubaneswar, we stopped briefly at Konark, the sun temple, finally making our journey to the last stop – Nimapada, the birthplace of Chhena Jhilli. The name of the shop we visited here is Patitapaban sweets stall, started by Artabandhu Sahoo. Chhena jhilli is deep fried cottage cheese soaked in sugar syrup with a hint of cardamom in it.

The perfect sweet note to end our journey in Puri!

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Berhampur- Land of Puri Upma

Berhampur- Land of Puri Upma

By Anubhav Sapra

Berhampur- the fourth most populous city of Odisha is easily accessible from Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack and has some of the best street food in Odisha. Also known as Silk city, Berhampur is a major trading centre for spices, tamarind, clothes etc.

Achaar

We started our food journey in Berhampur by visiting the Bara Bazar- a major trading hub. The two most valued food items in Berhampur are Papad and Pickles. We were a bit sceptical when Jagdish, who runs a facebook page by the name Discover Berhampur straightaway took us there. But it was a divine experience to sample almost 25 different varieties of pickles, our favourite being Navratan pickle – sweet, spicy, tangy, made with dry fruits and cherries. We got some papad made with dal and sesame seeds packed to take back home. They are really amazing. We also spotted Nabat in all the shops – a mix of jaggery and sugar, used for making a refreshing summer drink. 

On the way back, Jagdish took us to Balaji sweets in Bada bazar for Malpua and Rasbali. Malpua is offered to Lord Jagannath in Puri. Back home, malpua is made during the Holi festival. The dough made up of white flour is deep fried and dunked in sugar syrup. Rasbali is flattened deep fried chhena soaked in condensed milk (rabri).

Pidha Hotel
Pidha Hotel, Berhampur

Our best meal in Odisha was at Pidha Hotel at City High School Road. Started by Arjun Sahu 50 years back, the shop is now run by Nilanchal Sahu. The restaurant opens up briefly for lunch from 12 noon to 3:00 pm. The word pidha means “a wooden low-rise chair”. The best mutton curry we had in Odisha was at this hotel. The whole experience of eating here was incomparable. One needs to take off their shoes to enter the restaurant and on a pidha (on the ground). A dried eco friendly leaf is spread in front of the diner. A generous helping of rice with dal is served with charu pani (similar to rasam, made with tamarind and turmeric) in a small bowl. And finally comes the show stopper, in another dried plate- mutton curry- small pieces of mutton cooked in a thick gravy, with a few spices and enriched full of flavours. It was simply delectable. In the evenings, Pidha hotel serves biryani. We wish we had more time in Berhampur to try their biryani.

One place which was highly recommended by everyone on social media was Hotel Girija, Girija Chowk for chicken pakoda and pudding. I quite liked the pudding but pakoda wasn’t what we were expecting.

Berhampur
New Biryani Centre, Berhampur

Next stop for lunch was New Biryani Centre, at Corporation Road, Biju Patnaik Park. What we liked about this 27 years old establishment was a clear distinction between Biryani and Pulao. Biryani is layered with chicken and rice while pulao is meat/chicken fried with rice. We tasted both and enjoyed the fragrant non-greasy rice with mutton. As mentioned in the earlier blog about biryani in Cuttack, the biryani here is a mix of Awadhi and hyderabadi style. Biryani is accompanied with Dalma and Pulao with baingan ka dalcha.

Another great experience was of trying kebabs straight from skewers at Rahim KGN Kebab shop, Corporation Road, in front of Biju Patnaik Park. The shop is managed by two brother Sharukh and Rahim. They have 3 different kinds of kebab- chicken, mutton and prawns priced at 10, 20, and 30 respectively. The small marinated pieces of meat are barbecued over charcoal. Once barbequed to perfection, some masala and lemon are sprinkled on the kebabs and the skewer is handed over to the customer. One can eat right from the skewers. KGN also offers brain and trotters in their menu.

We also tried two different kinds of snacks from the street at City High School road. The two food carts adjacent to each other sell mix chakuli and sprouts chaat. The chakuli shop is run by Tumba Nath and Sprouts chaat shop by L Somesh Patro. Mix veg chakuli – made with the batter of white lentil and vegetables are first pan fried then crushed on the pan while frying. It gives it a crisp texture. Next to mix veg chakuli shop is another cart that sells pan fried sprouts- a mix of matar, chana, moong, onion, tamarind, tomatoes, carrot, ginger and spices.

Ghughni Chaat, Berhampur

The highlight, however, was the ghughni chaat at Sri Ram Ghugni stall run by Pinto. Started in 1992, they make the best ghugni chaat in town. This place reminded us of Tamatar ki chaat of Varanasi or tokri chaat of Lucknow. A perfect chaat should be a mix of many ingredients – sweetness, spicyness, tanginess, crispiness, softness – all in one. A treat for the eyes- everything you can wish for is added to the ghugni- tomato, bada, ghugni, sew, boondi, onion pakoda, spices, lemon and whatever else is available at his stall is added to the ghugni chaat. We can rate this place as one the best chaat we ever had anywhere in India.

Puri Upma
Puri Upma, Berhampur

The most popular berhampuria breakfast dish is Puri and Upma. A perfect example of south meets east. You can spot puri umpa stalls everywhere in Berhampur in the morning. This is the soulfood of Berhampur. 2 pooris are put in a dona, topped with normal upma, masala upma, ghugni, sambar, chutney, and sooji halwa. It has to be relished from hands devoid of a spoon. The best place to go for Puri upma is Samala Hotel in Annapurna market.

In Berhampur, I met Vaishali – the most enthusiastic foodie in town. She loves her city and knows the food places inside out. She is so enthusiastic that she can ask you to jump from the rickshaw if she finds something interesting to eat. And it did happen at one place. On last evening in Berhampur, she literally stopped the rickshaw midway at Giri Market, at Kishore pakoda cart to let us try three snacks- saku, papu segudilu, and jackfruit chips. Saku is a close cousin of big size idly – steamed one side and pan fried on side. And Papy Segudilu is big size ring shaped snack made up of rice flour,turmeric, hing, green chilli and salt, that are boiled and made into dough. Then they are coated with sesame seeds, made into rings and deep fried in oil.

We ended our journey at Billu dhaba- a dhaba run by Gurmeet Singh. Gurmeet Singh’s father bought the land in 1986 while working as a truck driver and made this a full fledged dhaba in 1991. This is the place for north Indian style food in Berhampur. I also learned a new dish Egg Tadka- scrambled egg mixed with black lentils, fried in spices and topped with cream.

A delightful journey from one of the hidden gems of the country!

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Cuttack- Land of Aloo Dum Dahi Bara

Cuttack – Land of Aloo Dum Dahi Bara

By Anubhav Sapra

Cuttack Street Food Tour YouTube Video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HX53yAbir7c&t=43s

Cuttack – a city of 52 markets and 53 streets is one of the twin cities of Odisha (the other being Bhubaneshwar). Cuttack is also the second largest city in eastern Odisha. Recently, I went on a food exploration in eastern Odisha covering 4 cities – Cuttack, Bhubaneshwar, Berhampur and Puri.

trinath aloo dum
Trinath Aloo Dum Dahi Bara

Cuttack should be known as the land of aloo dum dahi bara. A plethora of  dahi bara stalls can be spotted everywhere. Dahi (yoghurt) and Bara (lentil dumplings) are served with a thick potato curry, a startlingly unique combination if we compare it to the northern style dahi bhallas. The baras are served soaked in a thin runny chaas (buttermilk) kind of dahi, tempered with spices. 4-6 pieces are put in a dona and topped with aloo dum. The exact preparation varies from stall to stall. The timings of the stall also change from one vendor to vendor.

The most popular dahi bara stall is Raghu’s Stall- a 45 years old shop in bidanasi. The baras are served with aloo dum, sprinkled with red chillies and salt. Even though slightly spicy for some, they also sell cuttack peda at the next counter in case the spices get you in a hustle. Raghu comes every day and sits at the corner to oversee the preparation. It is so popular that they are sold out within one hour from 5 pm to 6 pm.

Next, we went to Trinath Dai Bara shop. The baras here were topped with thick and super spicy aloo dum, ghugni, sew, onion, sweet and spicy chutney. It was delectable, with the pinch of spice. This was the only place in the whole of Odisha where I had hiccups after having his dona of dahi baras.

We also tried the dahi bara at Puniya, available only in the mornings– served Raghu style but comparatively less spicy, and Eshwar dahi bara at Biju Patnaik Chowk. My personal favourite was Eshwar dahi bara because of two reasons. First, Eshwar was the most humble person whom I met in Odisha. He started selling dahi bara at the age of 13 on a cycle and now owns a cart. Second, the dahi bara was spiced perfectly. He also adds a sweet bara with the salty one and tops it with aloo dum, ghugni, sew, onion, chutney. I loved the preparation and the love and warmth with which he serves his customers.

Dahi Lassi
Dahi Lassi

Dahi sharbat and rabdi sharbat are the two most popular beverages of Cuttack. The process of making them is quite simple, but the preparation is exquisite when finished.

At Sen and Sen shop (near chandi mandir), which is 50 years old- sugar syrup, yogurt, grated coconut and rabri are layered and the essence of pineapple and jamun is added as a finishing touch. They are not mixed together. Small pieces of ice can be tasted in between while you drink the sherbet.

At Dil Bahar sherbet shop in Baxi bazar, they blend the mixture with ice completely and top it with essence of pineapple, jamun and small pieces of cashew. I like the one at Dil Bahar because everything was blended together with the shaved ice.

The preparation style of chai and taste changes from one region in India to another. In Odisha, the chai is pre-made at most of the street side chai stalls. On one big giant pot, the tea is brought to a boil, with all the spices and some thick omfed milk. Then, in a smaller pot the chai is strained and served. The chai is thick and delicious. At Monu tea stall in baliyatra padia, the warm hearted owner adds ghee in the tea. Known as gua ghee tea, it tastes good.  The tea shop is very popular during baliyatra.

Chakuli Mousi – Annapurna Devi

Mausi chakuli shop in Nandi Shahi is a hot spot for breakfast in Cuttack. 76 years old, Annapurna Devi runs a morning breakfast dish- chakuli with red hot spicy chutney. She wakes up at 4:30 am,  does all the preparation and sets up her shop at the narrow entrance of her house. The steamed fresh chakulis are cooked in a traditional way with the batter spread over a piece of cloth on a boiling pot. The batter of the chakuli is made with rice and white lentils (biri). It’s a close cousin of dosa and idli. At Mausi chakuli shop, the chakulis are served with spicy red garlic chutney. This was one of my best experiences in Cuttack. It was again more of the warmth and affection of Annapurna Devi that made the dish and the whole experience special for me.

Naya Sadak is a hotspot for breakfast in Cuttack. The food carts sell chakuli with ghugni (chickpeas), coconut chutney and red chilly chutney. One can top it with pyaazi- onion fritters. The interesting part is that the plates have to be washed on your own.

For evening snacks, Kalia chops and babu bhai chops shop in Professor Pada are widely known. Kalia and Babu bhai, both are bothers and run the chop shops adjacent to each other. Both of them sell prawn, liver, mutton, and chicken chops. At babu bhai’s junction, the devilled egg was excellent. The boiled eggs were filled with minced meat, wrapped in mashed potatoes and covered with powdered biscuits. The chops are deep fried in oil and served crisp with chilly and tomoto chutney.

The last stop in Cuttack was biryani at Girija Hotel. The biryani is served with runny onion and tomato raita. Cuttack style biryani is a mix of Awadhi and hyderabadi style. It is light on the spices with a hint of kewra, layered, and cooked on dum.

The other landmarks on Cuttack-Bhubneshwar highway are Nana hotel, Phulnakhra and Pahala. Nana means elder brother in Odisha. Famous for their mutton curry with rice, the typical dhaba style set up is enticing at nana hotel. The food is served on an eco friendly dried leaf. A plate of mutton curry and rice costs INR 120. This was my next favourite meal in Odisha. I loved the spice level, soft and succulent pieces of mutton, and not so thick mutton gravy.

There are two variants or rice available here- Usna and Arwa. Based on the taste preference, one can opt for any of them.

We also tried mutton at Nanda hotel. Nanda Hotel’s mutton curry is full of fat and a layer of fatty oil can be seen floating on the top. Even though tasty, Nana Hotel wins this round for their delicious mutton!

Not far from cuttack is a landmark in Indian sweets history- Pahala, known for rosgullas. I am sure everyone in North India would have grown up eating thande thande rasgulle. But here the rasgullas were warm and fresh, straight coming out of the boiling chashni. I loved it to the core.

Pahala Rosgulla

The step by step preparation of rosgullas was interesting to observe. To prepare the dough, chhena (cottage cheese) is mixed with suji (semolina) in the ratio of 1 kg of chhena to 50 gms of suji. After the dough is kneaded, it is filled with khoya or dry nuts and boiled in sugar syrup on a wooden fire. The piping hot rosgulla has different colours based on the hours of boiling. The ones that are boiled for longer duration are brown in colour and the others are white. The rasgullas were super soft and not extravagantly sweet. The syrup was thin.

There is another variant of rasgulla in Odisha of Salepur. Half an hour journey from Cuttack is a town called Salepur famous for Bikalananda Kar’s rosgulla. Kar’s rasgulla were brown in colour, and sugar syrup was thick. I met the second generation owner, Mr Pramod kar who showed me the processing unit of the rosgulla. They are quite mechanised and use the standard assembly line of production. Electric boilers are used for making the rosgullas of different sizes. Based on the size, the price is fixed, ranging from Rs 5 to Rs 25. Rosgulla’s costing Rs 25 are quite big in size and have cashews in them. At the entrance itself, pots of rosgullas are lined up with each having a different size of the sweet delicacy.

A taste of this ‘hatke’ style of rosgulla was indeed the experience of a lifetime!

 

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Kerala Food Journey- Kozhikode/Calicut

Kozhikode/Calicut

By Anubhav Sapra

Marco Polo described Calicut as the greatest province in Malabar. Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama first landed on Indian shores in 1498, in Calicut, paving the way for the spice trade between Europe and Malabar. Calicut emerged as the Centre of spice trade, that brought the Arabs, the Portuguese, the English, the Dutch and the French closer to the Indian subcontinent.

Hence, not surprisingly, the food of Calicut is heavily influenced by the Arabs. The intermingling of Arabian food with the local spices and cooking techniques came to be known as Moplah cuisine. Moplahs are the Malayali speaking Muslim community in Malabar.

Hotel Paragon
Paragon fish mango curry

Calicut or Kozhikode is one of the most foodie friendly cities of Kerala. Interestingly, almost all of the food joints are right next to each other and can be easily covered in a day’s time. We stayed there for 24 hours and managed to taste the food at all the iconic places.

The journey started with Hotel Paragon beneath U.H. Flyover on Kannur road. The iconic restaurant is in existence since 1939 with branches in Calicut and Dubai. The restaurant is known for its yummilicious Dum Biryani, Fish Mango Curry and Vellappam. Fun fact, in Malabar region, the quality of rice is completely different compared to other parts on India. They use a special variety of rice called Jeeraksala rice- a small grained rice known for its delicious aroma and taste. The Biryani was lightly flavored, cooked using Jeerakshala. The accompaniments that are served with Biryani are Raita, coconut mint chutney and lemon pickle. There is no concept of salan in Kerala. To our surprise, the fish mango curry was creamish in texture and quite similar to a Delhi styled Butter Chicken gravy. The only addition was the raw mango slices. The smooth creamish fish curry complimented the Vellappam quite well.

Dancing tea/biryani tea
Dancing tea/Biryani chai

Most of the restaurants in Kerala serve tea with all the meals. The tea glasses and the style of making the beverage are uniform all across the state. At hotel Paragon, I tried the ‘dancing tea’ aka biryani tea. The tea was layered in style – tea, with milk and foam on the top. The layers were easily noticeable and the movement of different layers added a twisty surprise to the flavours of the beverage. When stirred with a spoon, it becomes a normal milk chai.

Milk Sharbath shop

Opposite to Hotel Paragon is Kerali Chips Corner, famous for fresh banana chips. The assembly line production and processing of banana chips are interesting to observe. The bananas are peeled – cut into pieces, washed, and fried in coconut oil. The fresh and crispy banana chips are a must-have snack at this place.

Next to Hotel Paragon is Bhaskarettante Kada or milk sharbath shop. This shop, although only half a decade old, is the most popular joint in Kerala. They have a pre mix of sugar syrup and essence of Nadan Nannari plant which is added to milk along with crushed ice. The same syrup is used for making other sharbaths. In lemon soda they also add a tablespoon of mint chutney in the sharbath.

with Mrs Ameera Shafi

As the day wore on, we were fortunate to get a home cooked meal at Mrs Ameera Shafi’s home. A housewife with great interest in cooking, she cooked for us to taste some of the most traditional and authentic dishes of Malabar. At her wonderful home, we got the chance to savour dry Mutta Mala, Pancharpatta, Chicken Stew, Ari Pathiri, Buff Fry and other dishes. But the highlight was Mutta Mala and Pancharpatta; a traditional dessert in Malabar not easily available in the shops and streets. It is said that this dish, entirely made up of eggs, was brought to Malabar by the Portugese. In Portuguese they call it Fios De Ovos. The Malayalee word ‘Mutta’ is used for eggs hence can be called ‘egg garlands’. The egg white and yolk are separated before cooking and boiled in sugar syrup. The other dish, Pancharapatta is different layers of eggs cooked in hot oil, on a slow fire, to be devoured with mashed bananas and powdered sugar. It is rightly said that there is no food close to home cooked food.

Hotel Sagar, Calicut
Hotel Sagar

The next morning we started our food exploration in Calicut with Hotel Sagar located at Mavoor road, near KSRTC bus stand. For brunch, we had Ghee rice with Meen curry. The Meen curry was sour and tangy, flavoured with tamarind. It complemented the ghee flavoured Jeerkasala rice perfectly.

Next we headed to Hotel Rehmath on A.G. Road. Established in 1961, the restaurant was started by Kunjahammad. It is said that Hotel Rehmath was famous for its beef biryani, popular in Calicut. We reached the hotel around 1:00 pm and within few seconds there was a long queue even before the hotel opened its doors for us hungry souls. The restaurant has mutton, chicken, fish and Kada (quail) Biryani. The biryani, prepared with raisins, was a bit greasy compared to other biryani joints we visited in Calicut.

Hotel Rehmath, Calicut
Hotel Rehmath

Located at a walking distance from Hotel Rehmath is SM Street known for Top Form Fish Biryani and numerous Calicut halwa shops. A food pilgrimage to Calicut is incomplete without getting the halwas packed for home. The different flavours of halwa range from a myriad of fruits to a variety of vegetables. Some of the common ones are coconut, banana, jaggery, mango, and tender coconut. The main ingredients of this delicacy are refined flour, sugar and coconut oil. We got our loot for home from Sankaran Bakery, recommended by a fellow foodie friend on Instagram.

Adam Chaikada
Adam Chaikada

Adam Chaikada or Adam’s teashop is a new entrant to the food scenario of Calicut. Hardly a year old, this restaurant has now become a popular eatery in the city. Modeled on a Portuguese heritage property, the place retains its old school architecture. It is no less that any upscale restaurant in any of the big cities in India. The walls are adorned with paintings of localites cooking Malabari delicacies, with a few cooking utensils in display. The menu has been curated keeping in mind the younger generation, adding the perfect twist to the Malabari dishes. They currently serve more than 100 varieties of fried chicken. We tried a small platter and were blown by the creativity of the chef. We also tried a mocktail made up of green mangoes and green chilies. The concoction may give you hiccups but it is really a refreshing drink.

Hotel Zains, Calicut
Hotel Zains

Across the main junction of Adam Chaikada is Zains Hotel known for Malabari snacks. The restaurant is located at Convent Cross Road behind the beach fire station and the bright red colour of the building makes it look like a cottage. The restaurant was started by a lovely lady Zainabi Noor, 30 years back. In Malayali, she beautifully narrated the story of how her restaurant started. She only speaks Malayali, hence one of the servers from UP helped us in the translation. Noor’s husband, from Afghan, was working in Gulf for 15 years. Both of them decided to open up a restaurant in Calicut so that they can stay together. Her exceptional culinary skills helped in curating the menu and training the staff members. The kitchen at the restaurant is clean and well maintained. The walls of the restaurant are decorated with press cuttings and pictures of Noor Mohamads’s sporting days, from when he played Football for Kerala. Some of the Malabari snacks which are difficult to find at other places are available here like, Mutta mala (described above), Unnakaya (mashed boil bananas stuffed with grated coconut, raisins, cardamom), different varieties of stuffed breads known as Pathiri, which could be beef, chicken or fish.

Hotel Bombay, Calicut
Hotel Bombay

The last stop in Calicut was another iconic restaurant established in 1949- Hotel Bombay located at Silk Street, started by Kunjahamad. This two floored restaurant still has an old world charm attached to it. A restaurant synonymous with Moplah biryani and Malabari snacks, people in Calicut still vow to their Biryani. The Biryani that is served with Date-chutney and Raita has a distinctive flavor in comparison to all the other places we tried. Tasting a bit artificial, this one didn’t please our palette as much as we would have hoped.

Some of the Malabar snacks on offer at Hotel Bombay are Kozhi Porichathu, Mutton Cutlet, Elanchi, Unnakaya and cakes. One of the most revered dishes here is the Ela ada. The main ingredients of Ela ada are rice powder, jaggery and coconut. With no usage of oil, the mixture is then wrapped in a banana leaf or plantain, and steamed. This is another place where one can try the Biryani tea. As it takes lot of time to make biryani tea, they only serve it before 3 pm and after 8 pm. Another kind of tea popular in Malabar region is Sulaimani chai- a black tea preparation with cardamom, ginger and lemon.

Of all the cities we have been to in Kerala, this was one city that had a long affair with its Biryani. All the restaurants have their specialty as Biryani – be it hotel Rehmath, Zains, Paragon, Bombay or Top form. In fact, it was more of a kind of Biryani trail for us; our favorite being the Hotel Paragon. The lightly flavoured, non greasy Biryani served with Raita and chutney was delectable. Calicut is, and should be rightly called as the food city of Malabar.