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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!

 

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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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!

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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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!

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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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!

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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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!

 

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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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.

   

 

 

 

 

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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Kerala Food Journey- Kannur and Thalassery

Journeying further into the God’s own country, we reached Kannur and Thalassery.

In Kannur, even though we could not visit a lot of different places, we had our hearts’ fill at Hotel Odhens on Odhens street, known for its fried sea food delicacies.

The peculiar restaurant opens only for lunch between 12 noon and 3 pm. The mad rush of people standing next to the tables speaks quite well of the popularity of the place. We ordered a fish curry meal that was served on a banana leaf, and tried fried squid, fried prawns and fried mussels known as kallumakkai or ‘fruit on the rock’ in Malabar. Kanji vellam or rice water is the drink served with meal.

The last city of our 9 day food sojourn in Kerala was the biryani capital of Malabar- Thalassery. Thalassery is synonymous with Biryani. The city is easily accessible by local buses and trains from Kannur and all the food joints can be covered in a few hours. The two iconic restaurants here are Paris Hotel- not to be confused with France and Rara Avis. Rara Avis is near the New bus stand, AVK Nair road and Paris Hotel is in an old heritage building at Logan’s road. Interestingly, the building used to be Kerala’s first printing press. Both of them are known for the Thalassery style Biryani. There are two styles of cooking biryani in India- Pakki and Kachi. The Kachi Biryani is of Hyderabad – they call it Kacche Ghosht ki Biryani where meat and rice are cooked together. In Pakki style, both the main ingredients are cooked separately, meat and rice are layered and put on dum. This can be called dum biryani as well. In Thalassery the Biryani is Pakki Dum style Biryani.

Coming to the quality of rice, most of the North Indian states use basmati for making biryani. However, in Thalassery they use Jeerakasala rice. The rice is small grained and full of aroma. The Biryani is devoid of colours. The accompaniments are onion Raita and pickles. There is no concept of salan in Malabar, as the biryani can be relished in its own flavours itself.

We tried the biryani at Rara Avis. It was simply delicious. The flavours of the rice were excellent. We also tried the rice pooris called Ney pathiri, served with a small portion of chicken curry..

Our last stop was the newly opened restaurant, Sea Park Views with Ari Orotti and chicken stew tingling our taste buds and leaving us with dreams of visiting again, and experiencing this, and much more, over and over again!

 

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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Kerala Food Journey- Alleppey

 Kerala Food Journey- Alleppey

YouTube video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gi1JEBSiFQ0&t=1s

 

The city of Allepey is known for its backwaters and houseboat tourism. We drove on a scooter from Cochin to Allepey, exploring the local cuisine along the way.

An eatery on Alleppey Thannermukkam road at Pathiramanal junction, Kaipuram, just a few kms away from the city was our first stop. The restaurant, called Vaidhyarude Kada is known for more than 40 odd varieties of fish. It has another outlet right across the road by the name Hotel Smitha, where the owner himself cooks and serves the food.

Vaidhyarude Kada is run by his wife. The eating area is in the huge verandah of their house, where fried fish, rice and other dishes are lined up on a table. Revered dishes here are the fish head, tllapia fish curry and fried fish dishes like lobsters and crab.

We reached Allepey and hired a houseboat for the on-boat food experience. The houseboats are well equipped with a kitchen, bed room, dining area, and everything you require for a comfortable ride. Most of the houseboats have two staff members- a captain who steers the wheel and an in-house cook who cooks dishes based on the preference of the guests. We hired the boat and headed straight for the fish market to get some tiger prawns and crab. The dish was cooked in less than an hour by the in-house cook. He marinated the fish in Keralan spices and fried the crab and prawns. The fried crab and prawns were truly delicious. This was indeed, the 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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Kerala Food Journey- Kollam, Kottayam and Cochin

Kollam

YouTube Video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PX9R2W6JmlU&t=4s

We began our food journey in Kollam, with Fehalwan Hotel. Fehalwans are professional wrestlers. In north India, they are colloquially called Pehalwans. The walls of Fehalwan hotel are adorned with the pictures of Md. Kunju, dating back to his wrestling days.  It is said that Md Kunju used to bring professional wrestlers to the city and and the ground behind the restaurant was a hub for wrestling matches.

There are private cubicles in the hotel, where one can relish the food with their dear ones. Visiting during the morning hours when breakfast was on in full frenzy, we tried Appam with spicy fish curry. Another popular favourite amongst the locals at Fehalwan Hotel is the Mutton Biryani. Served only during the lunch hours, this delicacy gets over in a matter of hours, as crowds throng to get a taste of the same.

Not too far from Fehalwan is a vegetarian restaurant named Guruprasad. We decided to give the Vegetable Biryani a try here. The biryani is served with Raita, Papad and pickles, and garnished with fried bread crumbs which give it a crunchy, munchy flavour. Lucky for us, we managed to try the local dessert in Kerala, the renowned, Jaggery Payasam, as it was a Sunday.

For lunch, we were recommended to try Ramees restaurant. At Ramees, we had Chicken Firecracker, Mutton Roast and Ari Pathri. The boneless chicken was marinated in local spices and wrapped in pandan leaves, and deep fried. It was truly delicious. An equivalent of Rumali Roti in North India, Ari Pathiri, the thinly made rice flour breads are cooked and dipped in coconut milk to make them softer.

After a sumptuous lunch, we decided to visit the beaches of Kerala, to explore the snack options available there. We entered a hub of stalls serving chana tossed with red chilies and spices, coconut water, roasted peanuts and mango slices and amla pieces dipped in salt water (Uppil ettah th ). The mango, pineapple, cucumber slices are eaten with red chilly chutney.

However, our highlight of the Kerala food journey was Ezuthaniyil Tea Shop in Keralapuram. A shop with no name plate and a hut like structure, that is immensely popular for its mutton curry, mutton roast and cake nuggets. Established in 1948 by Meera Sahib, the place is flocked by crowds from far distances for mutton curry and special cakes. The raw spices are freshly ground and used to prepare the spice mix to add to the mutton curry. The onions that are used to cook the curry are small madras onions, which bring in their own unique flavour. We devoured it with the flaky and perfect Malabari Parottas. The special cakes, which are also a revered delicacy, are prepared using refined flour, duck eggs and sugar.

Kottayam

In Kottayam, we decided to visit the Karimpumkala Restaurant, known for its sea food. The restaurant is located at Pallom on M.C.Road. We tried the regular fish curry meal with karimeen polichathu, which is a black pearl fish marinated in different spices wrapped in banana leaves and deep fried.

From Kottayam, we headed to Kumrakom, a beautiful place famous for its bird sanctuary and houseboats. We visited Kumarakom toddy parlor. There are separate compartments where one can sip toddy, the local mildly alcoholic beverage made from coconut palm trees. The dishes that accompany toddy are typically spicy and fried dishes.

Hopping on and off the local buses from Kumarakom to Cherthala and then to Thoppampady, we reached the tourist destination Fort Cochin

Fort Cochin

YouTube Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I_-HsbENas

Fort Cochin is a thing of magnificence, and a popular tourist destination. In order to experience the local culture, we booked a homestay and hired a bike to explore the city. At Fort Cochin, the sight of Chinese fishing nets being used to catch the fish greets you, and one can ride the jetty to cross the sea, parking their cars and bikes on the jetty itself. On the beach, the concept of ‘you buy and we cook’ is extremely popular – you can buy the fish as per your taste preferences and ask the small eateries to cook using the local spices.

We started our day with Kayees Restaurant in Mattancherry known for its Mutton Biryani. This lightly flavored Biryani with no colours and onions is cooked using Dum style. We took the jetty ride to Ernakulum city to Mullapanthal Toddy Parlor. The toddy parlor has both individual rooms and a common area. The parlor is flocked by people from different age groups. Perhaps, Kerala is the only place where the restaurants serve both beef and pork under one roof. We tried the pork fry. Slightly on the spicy side, it goes well with the toddy. Another interesting Chakhna (snacks served with alcoholic drinks ) served with the toddy here is Chamandi – a paste like consistency with the main ingredients being red chilies, garlic, onion and coconut oil. It is served with tapioca.

While returning, we stopped at Sri Muruga café at Poonathara near Thripunithara. The café is decorated with bananas hanging from the roof. Sri Muruga is famous for Pazham Pori with Beef Curry. Pazham Pori, a common snack available all across Kerala is made up of ripened banana wrapped in the batter of all purpose flour and deep fried. Most of the Malyalees eat it with a cup of tea or as a snack. We also experienced the unconventional and unique taste of spicy beef curry with sweet banana fry.

For our dinner, we headed to Dhe Puttu, a restaurant run by Malyalee actor Dileep. Unlike the controversies faced by the actor, the food here was nothing but a delight. In fact, it was the most expensive meal we had in Kerala. On the recommendation of the server, we ordered Red snapper fish and multi layered puttu named Ezhusundhara Rathrikal. The multi layered puttu had prawns, chicken and pork in it. It was truly delicious. The snapper was first deep fried and then a layer of onion masala was spread over it.

The last meal in Ernakulum was at Puttu Kada. The eatery is located at Pallikadavu, Kumbalam near St. Mary’s church. Out of all the places we tried in Kerala, this was the most interesting to dine at. The operating hours of the restaurant are from 8 pm till the stock lasts, usually till 2 am. The eatery, initially started for fishermen has slowly become popular amongst the locals as well. The menu is quite simple – beef curry, mutton curry, chicken curry, fried chicken, boiled duck eggs and puttu. A simplistic place with only a few tables and benches as the main architecture, here the food speaks for itself. We tried the chicken curry with puttu and were impressed with the preparations. The chicken was cooked with lot of onions and special spices. It was a great end to our Cochin food journey.

Before leaving for Calicut, the breakfast at Ifthar restaurant was of typical Malabar dishes. Both the banana based dishes Kayikritha, Pazam Kuzachath are fried using ripened bananas and mixed with eggs, sugar, cardamom powder, and dry fruits.

All in all, it was a truly a journey equivalent to culinary heaven.

 

 

 

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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Trivandrum Food Journey

 

Trivandrum/Thiruvanthapuram Food Journey

By Anubhav Sapra

YouTube Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABCkNfCU5UE&t=2s

 

Trivandrum or Thiruvananthapuram is an old city located on the west coast of the state of Kerala. This grand city is the capital as well as the largest urban metropolis of Kerala.

In Trivandrum, we started with Mani Mess, a vegetarian restaurant in Manakkadu, near Sreevaraham temple. Since its inception, 37 years ago, this restaurant is run by Krishnamoorthy and his sister Thankam. As you enter the restaurant, there is a waiting area lined up with chairs for seating. Tokens are issued and the guests are asked to sit and wait for their table. The popularity of the restaurant can be gauged from the fact that the customers are generally asked, albeit politely, to finish their meals in fifteen minutes. Just like all other places in Kerala, this too is adorned with a sign outside saying ‘Meals Ready’ (or in some cases ‘Biryani Ready’, which is promptly removed the moment the offering gets over.

Their standard lip-smacking meal comprises of rice, Sambhar, Thoran (stir fry vegetables ), Avial (vegetables and shredded coconut), Pachadi, Achaar (pickles), Olan (pumpkin and grams cooked in a gravy of coconut milk) Rasam (soup made with tamarind, pepper and other spices), More (spiced buttermilk) , Parippuvada (lentil fritters) and Papad. The meal is served with red coloured padumugam powder and lukewarm water. The homely food along with a variety of delicacies in one plate is sure to tickle your taste buds.

After a perfect start to our foodie expedition, in the state of spices-Kerala,our next stop was Kochanan Sahib’s restaurant, a peculiar place without a nameplate. Standing tall since 1964, Kochanan Sahib is located at Karamana Junction near ICICI bank’s ATM. This place serves the best mutton curry, mutton roast and mutton biryani in Trivandrum. The mutton roast was cooked in thick gravy to be eaten with Parottas. The meals are served on the traditional banana leaf. Alongside is the typical Kerala accompaniments with the Biryani, onion Raita and lemon pickles.

For evening tea, we went to a popular tea shop nearby, Chaithanya Tea Shop, located in Sasthamangalam. This little tea-snack shop has a large variety of delicacies to die for- cakes, Pazham Puri, Bhaji and many others. We had a cup of tea with banana fry commonly known as Pazham Puri.  Horlicks and Bournvita have also gained immense popularity as a beverage here, and in all of Kerala.

Zam Zam restaurant, opposite MLA hostel in Palayam was our quick stop for Al Faham (Arabian grilled chicken) and Shawaya (whole grilled chicken).

As you head forward, Buhari hotel in Attakulhangara is another renowned food joint known for their mutton chops, mutton roast and mutton brain roast. The restaurant was started in 1956 and caters to its customers till midnight. The chops were cooked in thick gravy with lightly flavored spices and served with crispy parottas. Buhari Hotel also runs a delicious juice and shakes parlour, which has turned out to be a popular hangout place for youngsters. One can relish khammam and Sharjah milk shakes here. The tender coconut malai is crushed in coconut water and mixed with dry fruits- almond, figs, cashews with frozen milk to give it a thick consistency, making it an immensely refreshing drink. Another popular joint for shakes is Chithra shakes near Law college junction. Their herbal drinks are a must-try!

The hotel manager guided us to a local eatery named Hotel Krishna, a bit far away from the main city at Kattachalkuzhi in Balarampuram, close to Coconut Research Centre. The restaurant started by Krishan Kutty, 22 years back is now managed by his son Shahji. The place is known for its Chicken Perattu and Chicken Thoran. As you enter the shop, you notice a group of ladies cutting and chopping ‘Nadan’ chicken; which is equivalent to desi or country chicken. It is further marinated in local spices. The pieces are then fried in coconut oil with local flavours and spice mixes. A dry preparation, the chicken is served with meals that has tapioca, rice or puttu.

After having our fill at Hotel Krishna, we moved on to Hotel Rehmaniya (Kethel’s) in Chalai market road. The restaurant since its inception in 1949 is known for a single signature dish- fried chicken. The small sized chicken pieces are fried in coconut oil along with red chillies. The seeds of dried red chillies add a crunchy taste and texture to the chicken making it lip smackingly delicious. Fried chicken is served with Chapathi and the left over chicken pieces are converted into curry and lemon pickles. They also serve fresh lime water with the meals.

The two day food-journey in Trivandrum ended at Kovalam beach with the classic beach snack- Uppil Ettath – mango and gooseberry slices in salt water and green chillies. A joyous day, indeed!

 

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.