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AJMER FOOD TOUR

Ajmer food tour

By Anubhav Sapra

 It is always fun to interact and explore the city with a local food enthusiast. In Ajmer I met Shikha, a dentist by profession and food instagrammer by passion. She runs an instagram account Ajmerfoodie. Together we explored the lanes of the city, with her being an excellent guide.

We started with Dhanna ki Kachori in Vaishali Nagar– a super spicy dal kachori with kadi. She remarks that this unique combination of Kadi and Kachori was invented in Ajmer and spread to other towns slowly. But the kadi is made in a different style without buttermilk or curd. Having been in existence for 20 years, the shop is run by two brothers Durgesh and Kanahiya. The kachoris are topped with mashed potatoes and coriander. To add a tangy flavour to the kachori, lemon wedges are served along with it.

From here we reached Akbari Museum. Next to the Akbari museum in Ajmer are two shops facing each other – Shankar chaat and Anant Jain lassi shop. Shankar shop is famous for kachori and saakhe. As we already had the kachori at Dhanna, we ordered saakhe with kadi. Saakhe is just fried maida dough with ajwain. Curly in shape, saakhe is also known as namkeen or matar in different cities of India. I had always enjoyed it with a cup of sweet tea. This was the first time I tried it with kadi and chutney. A great combination indeed- the crispy saakhe went well with the smooth and spicy kadi. Next, we tried lassi at Anant jain lassi shop. The thick and creamy lassi is served in a clay glass topped with malai, rabri and saffron water. In the heat of Ajmer, it was a perfect refreshing drink.

Ajmer is known for Sohan Halwa and karanchi halwa. I am sure there would be some historical relevance to the sweets in Delhi and Ajmer. In Old Delhi, sohan halwa is available in selected sweet shops like Chainaram and kanwarji. I simply love this caramalised crunchy chewy sweet biscuit. It is made up of wheat, ghee, sugar and nuts. One small bite of halwa and the mouth is literally filled with ghee. Slowly you get the flavours of nuts. Moolchand Buddhamal in Purani Mandi is the oldest sweet maker of ajmer. Established in 1870, the shop has the best sohan halwa in the old city of ajmer. The sweet is also available in dargah market at all the sweet shops.

The story of bhutia halwayi (ghost sweet maker) is interesting. One story is that the ghosts used to make sweets whole night and when the owner used to open up the shop next day in the morning, all the sweets were made. Second story is that the sweet shop was in an isolated lane on Alwar gate road. No one used to visit that lane at night because of the rumour of ghosts living in Alwar gate road. But lala ji used to open the shop inspite of rumours of ghosts in that area. That’s why the locals started calling it Bhutiya halwai shop. Whatever the real story, the sweets are really good specially doodh jalebi and gond ke laddu. We tried doodh jalebi. The sweet and sugary jalebi is crushed in a steel jug and then half a glass of thick milk is added. Both of them are mixed properly and served in a clay glass with cream on the top. The mix of soft and crunchy jalebis makes it special.

It is not easy to find authentic homestyle Rajasthani delicacies in restaurants. Mahadev dhaba is one of the local eateries in Ajmer where some of the Rajasthani dishes like gatte ki sabzi, ker sangri, sew tamatar, papad sabzi are on the menu. The dhaba is at Nasirabad road in Ajmer.The owner specially cooked sew tamatar and papad ki sabzi for us and allowed us to oversee the preparations in the kitchen. The recipe of both of the dishes was similar- first, in hot oil, onion is sautéed and garlic water is added to it, then curry gravy, some garam masala and finally sew or roasted papad are added. In my opinion, what makes it special are the two ingredients – garlic water and the curry gravy made up of malai. The malai in the gravy leaves a smooth creamy texture to the sabzi. A bit spicy for me, but It went well with the fresh tandoori roti.

On the way to our last stop for faluda, near madar gate, we spotted probably India’s biggest kachori weighing 650 gms.

In the end we decided to stop for some dessert.  Kesar pista kulfi with kesar pista ice cream, rabri, dry fruits and rose syrup were layered and served in a glass bowl. It was the perfect sweet way to end the Ajmer street food journey.

The evening was spent in the Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisthi. Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, popularly known as Garib Nawaz (helper of the poor), is a giant figure on the Sufi map of the sub-continent. Situated in the city of Ajmer in Rajasthan, the shrine is open to all faiths. It is an old saying that people who visit Ajmer Sharif and pray with pure faith and loyalty at this Dargah, are granted their heart’s wishes.

In the Dargah there are two huge degs i.e., cauldrons – for cooking Niaz (purely vegetarian food); cooked with rice, ghee, nuts, saffron & sugar. The system of cooking food in cauldron was first introduced by Emperor Akbar. And Ajmer sharif has the world’s largest cauldron with the capacity to cook 4800 kgs of food in it.

I participated in the langar with the locals and the devotees. In a big plate, fresh and delicious biryani and sweet rice were served. People kept sharing the food from the same plate. It was truly an experience of a lifetime!

 

 

Anubhav Sapra
Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.
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MILKSHAKE AND CO: Where the creamiest shakes meet the cutest glasses

On my recent trip to Chandigarh, I found myself bored and craving for some sugar rush on a hot lazy afternoon. Since I was back in Chandigarh after a long time, I was in an exploratory mood and wanted to try something new instead of my usual haunts. However, I also was looking for something budget friendly. I had heard a lot about the inner market of Sector 8, which has in the last few years evolved from a quiet part of the town into a fun and bustling market. The USP of this market area is its concept of takeaway food, that is co-related to the fact that it lies on the famed ‘gedi route’ of Chandigarh. While the market is relatively serene during the day, it buzzes with activity in the evening with a lot of youngsters coming in their cars to enjoy the variety of food options this market offers.
So when I finally reached this market, I was overwhelmed and confused with the presence of so many good cafes and restaurants here, and was having a hard time picking one. Finally, I went for Milkshake and Co. because I had heard some rave reviews about this one. Like most of the other eateries in this place, this one also has no seating as such and there’s a small space inside for you to stand and place your orders. And while the space is a bit cramped, it certainly is very pretty with the menu painted quite aesthetically on the left side wall, and the right side wall filled with quirky and cute emojis. The theme of this adorable quirkiness also continues into the jars and glasses in which they serve their fries and shakes . The glasses especially are super cool with animated faces drawn on them that vary depending on the flavour of the shakes you choose, with each flavour having a specific design on the glass.
Now coming to the main part, ie. the food and the beverages served here. The menu is very intriguing with the milkshakes occupying the centre stage (not surprising at all considering the name of the shop) with their interesting flavours and the even more interesting names given to those flavours. Names like Ghostly Ghost, English Summer, Deadly Red, Voodoo, Green Devil , Dark Lord, Nutty professor, just to name a few, are bound to catch your attention and set your imaginations running. Also, the flavours on offer are very diverse and cater to everyone’s tastes whether one prefers the classics, the rich chocolate shakes, the fruity flavours or even confectionery flavours like M&M, Skittles and Bubble-gum. This theme also continues with their Cream Sodas that have flavours like Orangutang, Shockwave and Blue Whale. There are also a few cold coffee options and if you’re just not in the mood for the heavy creamy options and simply want something refreshing to quench your thirst, you can choose from the many flavours of lemonade here. The food menu is a bit underwhelming though with only burgers and fries to choose from, but once again the flavours on offer are very tempting and interesting. The ‘Paneer Mango Sriracha’ and the ‘Chicken Cajun Pineapple’ in the burger bombs section definitely sound very appealing for someone with experimental tastes like me.

Just looking at this mouth-watering menu had intensified my cravings tenfold and so after some difficult contemplation I went ahead and ordered ‘The Legend’ milkshake and ‘Honey Mustard Mayo fries’. I was told by the guy on the counter that The Legend, Ghostly Ghost, Black Eye and Dark Lord were some of their bestseller shakes; and while I was definitely intrigued by experimental flavours like ‘Cheesy’ and ‘Deadly Red’, I decided to stick with the classic option for my first time. And boy, I wasn’t disappointed one bit! The shake tasted what can only be best described as heavenly. First of all, the shake really did justice to the term “thick shakes” as it was very creamy and rich in flavour. The salted caramel flavour tasted very authentic with a fine balance between the sweet flavours of Caramel and the zesty flavour of Rock Salt. And the dollops of whipped cream served on top were just ‘the icing on the very delicious cake’. While I did really like taste of the pink coloured cream when mixed with the shake, the creaminess only serving to make the yumminess of the salty caramel flavour taste even better. However, I did find the quantity of the cream to be a bit in excess, and it did not taste as good by itself once the shake got over. But all in all, the shake was quite refreshing an absolute delight to have!

The honey mustard mayo fries I ordered to have along with the shake, were good but not the best. Not sure what, but something was missing. The fries weren’t very crispy nor were they very succulent. The honey mustard mayo tasted alright but seemed to be somewhat lacking in the mustard flavour. While many people might like only a very subtle mustard flavour , I was a bit disappointed since I am someone who really likes the strong essence of mustard. But what the fries lacked in taste, they quite made up for in quantity. The serving size was really generous and while the shake itself was quite fulfilling, the fries had me full to the brim. And I had barely even eaten half of the fries. So eventually I had to get the remaining fries packed, which was simple actually considering the beautiful tin jars they serve the fries in. All that I had to do was put the lid on the jar, and my fried were good to go. Quite convenient really!
And thus, a short trip to this up-and-coming inner market of Sector 8 and my hunger was satiated, my thirst quenched, my cravings fulfilled and my tummy full. All thanks to the Milkshake and Co. The shake was thick, creamy and delightful. Another great thing about this café is their reasonable pricing. The quantity of fries is very generous for a modest price ranging from 130 to 150 rupees. The shakes might seem a bit pricey at 190 rupees, but considering the quality and the incredible taste, I found it to be totally value-for-money. I would definitely recommend this place to everyone whether you are a resident of Chandigarh or just visiting the city, and especially if you are looking to have some great milkshakes available in a variety of flavours that will boggle your mind and mesmerize your taste buds.

Meghna Chakraborty
I love to eat. Pizza is my favourite food, and I love cheese, any kind of cheese.
I love animals, I love dogs. Dogs over humans, any day, all day.
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Stressed and in Doubt- Just Cake it Out

Theobroma isn’t exactly a street food joint but they serve some amazing quality pastries and savory items at very reasonable prices. Life is all about good food and sometimes paying just a little more than usual can be totally worth it.

Theobroma is one such place where you get amazingly delicious food at quite respectable prices. They have 10 outlets in Delhi, NCR and very recently they opened a new outlet in Select City Mall, Saket. I have also been to their café in SDA market. The café there is a beautiful little café with sea green walls and adorable furnishings and when I say little, I mean TINY. It’s a very small café where you have to squeeze in to walk back and forth. I have eaten quite a few of the items from their menu, over the years. The brownies and various tarts and pastries are to die for and I am not exaggerating one bit. On a very recent trip to the express outlet in Saket, I ordered quite a few items from the menu. I ordered the overload brownie, the zingy lemon tart, veg quiche and crème caramel custard. And I recall eating their chicken sandwiches and after nine pastry among many that I can’t even remember now. And I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that each and every item on the menu is delectable and just so tasty. They also serve hot beverages like coffee, tea, flavoured coffee etc and cold beverages like milkshakes, flavoured ice teas, cold coffee etc to accompany their appetizing dishes. They also have a breakfast menu which unfortunately is not available at express outlets and kiosks. They also serve various flavours in cheesecakes for cheesecake loves like me. Not only do they serve pastries, but they also serve cakes on order for half kg and beyond. They also serve mouse cakes and hand crafted chocolates.

Now coming to the prices, the overload brownie was for 95 rupees and it was one of the softest, incredibly gooey in the middle, melt in your mouth kinda brownie. The crème caramel brownie was also an amazingly smooth pudding, just the caramel poured on top trickled down the plate and the cheapskate in me wanted every drop of the caramel syrup which was unfortunately hard to pick up because of the flat place, so yeah that left me a bit sad. It was for around 100 rupees. The veg quiche was for 75 rupees, and OH MY GOD, the quiche was so good, it’ll probably be one of the best things you’ll eat, it was cheesy, the base was nice and crumbly, the mushroom tasted just perfect and I don’t even like mushrooms. Then the zingy lemon tart was for 100 rupees, it was just the right thing needed to cut through the heaviness of all the other items ordered. It was tangy and just so refreshing. The sandwiches are from 125 to 135 which are quite reasonable for two good, heavily stuffed sandwiches.

Theobroma is in no way a cheap, inexpensive bakery shop, but it is a good place to go if you wanna eat good quality pastries and other sweet dishes for a reasonable amount of money.

Meghna Chakraborty
I love to eat. Pizza is my favourite food, and I love cheese, any kind of cheese.
I love animals, I love dogs. Dogs over humans, any day, all day.
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Ved Dhabha : Worth the wait and the weight.

A wise man once said “Street food is the ultimate salvation for the human race” which indeed is very true, why to spend on fancy restaurants when you can perfectly satiate your taste buds with the wonders on the street? One such wonder exists in a street in Kamla Nagar which goes by the name Ved Dhabha , which offers a wide variety of north Indian food cooked with pure love and dedication. Well, what makes this place so special? This Dhaba is almost 30 years old as well as it offers the best north Indian food at prices as low as possible. This place has a vast menu which includes numerous varieties of sweets. This isn’t only my opinion but every person in that area, from fellow university students to even the rickshaw drivers do not leave a stone upturned when it comes to praising this place for its legendary and authentic taste.

My visit to this place was very unplanned which was the result of the  usual ‘not so good hostel food’ day. It turned out to be a life saver weapon against hunger that day and surprisingly it is still the best weapon I can use to save myself from such days. At first this place appeared like a sweet shop which slowly transformed into a very retro vibe dhaba with wooden seating as I walked into it. To my surprise, each and every table  was occupied majorly by the university students , families etc. But due to the quick service of the very welcoming staff members of that place, we were offered our seat as soon as possible. Further , the universal truth of college students always being broke was what bothered us next, which turned into a sigh of relief as we looked at the prices on the menu. We ordered a smoking hot plate of  butter paneer and couple of butter tandoori rotis , which hardly took a while to arrive.

‘You first eat with your eyes’ turned out be the just right saying at the first glance. The butter paneer was perfectly topped with some extra butter and the tandoori  rotis  were so glazed as if they were dipped in rivers of butter . And lastly, as I took a bite of the buttery roti wrapped around the piping hot curry the ‘title’ of this article was justified. It was such a heavenly and toothsome experience to have such delicious food at such a legendary place in this walled city. I left that place with nothing but a satisfactory grin and a  great experience regarding the food, hospitality and service and of course the low bill.

So, if you are a hungry individual with a lot of north Indian cuisine fandom, make sure you visit this place without fail and have a heavenly experience from the very first bite till the end.

Name: Ved Dhaba

Address: 5307, Chandrawal Road,Kamla Nagar ,New Delhi

Phone Number: 011 23850931

 

 

 

 

 

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Sushi Fest at R.E.D

The food scene in Delhi has finally come of age. Ten years ago, I could not have imagined being spoilt for choice of sushi places around me. Today, at every ten feet, you can experience a different region’s flavour and fervour. The newest entrant to tap into the sushi market is R.E.D (Rare Eastern Dinning) by Radisson Blu. While the restaurant has been around for a while, its sushi menu is a fresh addition valid for a limited time. The sushi recipes have been crafted by Chef Raymond Sim, from Singapore. It borrows from the traditional Nigiri cuisine combined with a distinct western influence.

An entire meal of sushi for a fish starved Delhiite like me is a rare treat. Naturally, I was smitten. The Tuna Tartar is a definite win at the offset. Once that is demolished, go for the Torched Salmon, Steaks, Green Onion Salsa and Ponju next. The ponju at R.E.D is a gelatinous cube of sauce which is a unique preparation that I have never tried before. There’s some amount of cognitive dissonance, trying a savoury jelly but it works well with the dish and sets it far apart from the usual fare.

Once you start eating sushi, it is difficult to stop. Give in to temptation and dig in next into the California@RED packed with prawn, avocado, cucumber and crab. The Prawn Tempura Uramaki is a classic that would have been the entrée, main and dessert had I been the chef. It will add a nice crunch to your sushi meal.

Take a breather with a veggie sushi, if you like. I’d recommend the Sweet Shitake and Bean Curd Roll. Top it up with the Rainbow Uramaki which combines the two best seafood in the world – fish and prawn into bite sized rainbow-y goodness. At this point, I assume you’d have had enough sushi to keep you going for a while. A dessert may be desired if not deserved. Don’t hold back. Try their spring roll cream with apple.

The highlight of my visit was when I requested for watching the chefs constructing sushi. To my surprise he actually agreed to not only let me watch but also try my hand at rolling it. Sushi making has become a new goal henceforth. Just need to scrounge up the ingredients. And watch a million YouTube videos.

I’d recommend R.E.D for a quiet night out or a date. The candle light, calm colour tones and affable staff add up beautifully to make it a great experience.

 

Location: Radisson Blu MBD, Sector 18, Noida
Price for Two: Rs. 3,000

 

Anjora cannot resist a good prawn preparation, finds home in Chinese food anywhere in the world but will eat almost anything if it looks appealing. She is a Potter head and has recently discovered pottery as a hobby (excuse the pun).
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Italia Cafe by Aura

Italia café by Aura is a small café in pul prahalapur, surajkund road. They serve cakes and pastries, pizzas, burgers, hot dogs and much more. It’s primarily a bakery shop serving various cakes at very affordable prices. But as soon as you enter the shop, you’ll see the bakery items placed in the refrigerated counters on the right and as you go a little inside, there is a café at the back of the shop. The small café isn’t the best looking cafés you’ve seen but they serve some really good food items. The chairs remain unorganized and the café isn’t really squeaky clean.

But the best part about the café is the old man regarded as baba ji. He used to sell brownies in a tiny kiosk placed in front of another restaurant a few years ago. And now he has a restaurant of his own and he serves everything from pizzas to pastas, to burgers to soups and salads. He is not only a hardworking man but an extremely warm and friendly human being. He was constantly cracking jokes and talking to the kids around, while I was there.

Aura is not only a café and a bakery shop but it also has a grocery shop in the basement. You can find everything in that grocery store that you’d probably find in a big retail convenience store.

They also sell their own breads and pizza bases.

Their pastries are quite delicious, moist and fresh but their decorations can be a bit too colorful and juvenile. I’ve order a few times from Aura and each and every time the cakes have been very good. Their pastries start from rupees 30 and goes up till 50 rupees. They also serve swiss rolls and lava cakes, other than the more traditional pastries including vanilla, pineapples, chocolate, choco chips and black forest. Their brownies are really good, perfectly moist and chocolaty.

Their savory items are equally as good, the items on the counter keeps changing; sometimes they serve chilli paneer pizza or sometimes corn and paneer pizza. The pizzas you see on the counter are sold in slices and they cost 50 rupees. To eat a whole pizza or order it, you need to go to the café. I always order the picante pizza which is the four cheese pizza and at that price point, it’s probably one of the best. The small pizza is for 99, the medium pizza is for 129 and the large pizza is for 279. The pizza is very cheesy and delicious. I’ve also had their aalu tikki burger which is for 35 rupees, and that was pretty great too. The buns were perfectly toasted and the aalu tikki was perfectly seasoned.

Aura is great place to hang out in after your tuitions or just the right place to be at if you want to eat sufficient without burning a hole in your pocket.

Meghna Chakraborty
I love to eat. Pizza is my favourite food, and I love cheese, any kind of cheese.
I love animals, I love dogs. Dogs over humans, any day, all day.