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JAFFRABAD STREET FOOD TOUR

It is the holy month of Ramzan and just like any Muslim neighbourhood, the narrow and busy lanes of the Jaffrabad Market in Seelampur, Delhi gets filled up with street vendors with their carts or stalls, selling Iftari food items and the common public, enthusiastically thronging the streets to break their Roza or the day long fast along with their acquaintances. So all these set up gets laid an hour or so before the Maghreb or the evening prayer. The prevalent sensory experiences in terms of the sights, sounds and aromas undergoes a visible shift as the place gears up for the Iftar or the feast that marks the breaking of the fast. As the evening moves into night, the sea of humanity swells and the surge of the locals engulfs the marketplace. One thing that revolves in the minds of all is food, the fuel that drives the human body. This place in northeast Delhi has a sizeable Muslim population. It is also the home to thousands of families that migrated to the capital from the nearby states of UP, Bihar and MP.

During Ramzan, the locality and its neighbourhood markets transforms into all night bazaar that is full of food stuffs and other things as well. Like its Old Delhi counterpart, this place is cheaper and full of local crowd as compared to the touristy crowd of the former. It is primarily because this place has no tourist attractions like the Jama Masjid, Red Fort etc. 

A closer look to the human activity would reveal tired yet smiling visages of the locals who are out to bask in the collective glory of festivity and celebration especially through food. From evening time till dawn, food take predominance. Some of the common food sights are the fruits mostly dates, watermelon and bananas, pakodas, rose drink, a pleasing assortment of breads like sheermal or paratha, smoking hot kebabs grilled on skewers and huge cauldrons filled with either Nahari or Biryani.

We are at Jaffrabad to experience the food culture here during the festival of Ramzan; to discover and learn about the most popular and delicious local food, the distinct flavours triggers hysteria and the relentless hands behind the culinary celebration. 

In solidarity to the spirit of celebration, unlike our other food journey we commenced this food tour with an Iftar, for which we joined our friends at a local shop. First task was to buy the food items for the Iftar. It is a customary gesture if you are going for an Iftar. Everybody pitches in with some of the basic eatables that makes up an abundant supply which is then shared by all, simultaneously. 

We bought some Keema golis and mixed pakodas and went on to meet our friends for Iftari. The spread comprised of fruit chaat, medley of pakodas and rose flavoured drink. After this light initial spread came the main dishes comprising of Nahari and Khameeri roti. That the Nahari was brilliant can be assessed from the satisfying expressions of the fellow eaters.

With the Iftar done right, it was time to embark on the Ramzan food tour across the market. Our first stop was the Haji Ikbal Sheermal Wale. We were here for some fresh and hot Nan Khatais or Indian shortbread cookies. We were lucky to witness the making of a fresh batch of golden brown beauties. They were soft, crumbly and irresistible.

Next stop was a popular kebab shop thronged by the locals. Nawab bhai kebab wale is an interesting place that we recommend for the tastiest kebabs in the locality. We tried their famous sheekh kebabs right off the skewers and believe us they were amazing. Very interestingly the kitchen in this eatery sits above the shop and the hot kebabs are lowered to the ground floor shop area by a pulley set up. The owners too were extremely gentle and humble. This place won our heart.

 

Next stop was the Afaq Zaika Chicken. We tried their special butter chicken tikka. It comprised of perfectly grilled chicken pieces tossed in a creamy and buttery sauce made with curd, butter and minimal spices. With all its rich and robust components, this dish can’t go wrong. Its was delectable and addictive although the insane amount of butter can surely give you jitters. The dish was a representation of the iconic Aslam Butter chicken from Old Delhi. In due course of the conversation we came to know that they are kins. 

 

While ambling down the lanes we came to a place frying Khajlas, a Ramzan time snacks that is eaten mostly during Shehri. Next we halted at a bread shop. Traditional breads are the inevitable part of the meal during Ramzan. They had an eclectic variety of breads of which we loved the Coconut one the most. After this was the turn of some mixed fruit shake from a street side cart. It was refreshing and had a custard like taste.

 

Then was the turn of a shop selling matar pulav, tehri and biryani. The taste of these vegetarian rice delicacies were so wonderful that we had to label it as a culinary discovery in the area. Imagine what a humble yet spectacular stuff it must be so as to win the heart of a hardcore biryani aficionado like me.

 

Right after it we also gorged on a delicious plate of Haleem biryani again from a street side stall that was swarmed with a super enthusiastic crowd. We literally jostled our way through them to collect our order. This place was a star.

 

From there we reached Islam Milk store, a place that everybody had recommended. With great curiosity we spoke to the owner and the customers to understand the amazing popularity of this milk joint. And with one sip of their rose flavoured milk we got all our answers. They have mastered  the perfect ratio in which the three ingredients should be mixed so as to get the ambrosial byproduct. We left convinced that a glassful of milk can actually make adults smile.

 

Our penultimate stop was Cool point where we tasted one of the most decadent Shahi Tukda. The fact that they double fry the thing before serving makes it different from the ilk. Along with a scoop of their in house mango ice cream, this dessert attained great height in taste.

After so much gluttony that we didn’t at all regret, we ended the food tour with a paan. Jaffrabad emerged as a foodie haven with some gems that cant be missed.

 

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GWALIOR FOOD TOUR

 

The city of Gwalior holds a supreme prestige for its wondrous cultural heritage. Undoubtedly it is one of the gems of Madhya Pradesh. The town is eponymously known as Gwalior after the saint Gwalipa, who was able to heal a deadly disease of Suraj Sen, founder of the city. Beside the significant historical legacy, the city also offers eclectic street food options to the locals and visitors. We were in the city to explore its street food tradition through such iconic eateries which rules the heart of the locals with their amazing fares. According to us the best way to do so is to walk down the vibrant and glorious streets of this cultural gem for as you keep walking, you keep exploring. The street food scene here is overflowing with the sight, aroma and taste of kachoris, ladoos, jalebis, bedai, poha, imartis, sev etc. So let’s start with our food trail at Gwalior with our foodie host Shikha who took us to the most famed eateries across the city.

 

Bedai

Our first stop was the city’s most favourite ladoo and kachori shop, the Bahadura sweets. Contrary to its majestic sounding name, this place was a small and unassuming eatery situated in a Haveli like structure. Their ladoos are so phenomenal that one of its illustrious patrons was Sri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, ex Prime Minister of our country. We tried their kachori and ladoo, whose reputation has traveled far and beyond. The Moong dal stuffed kachoris were very impressive but it was the fresh desi ghee ladoos that swooned us with their soft, luscious and moist texture. This place is worth all its reputation.

Next we went to Chote Lal shop that is known for its Bedai and Imartis. Bedai are firm and crisp, Moong dal mixture stuffed puris that is eaten with a spicy potato gravy and chutney. The bedai here like its Agra counterpart was quite appetizing but it was the Imarti that was the star. The distinctly fresh flavour of urad dal that comes through the ghee infused syrup fountain makes it irresistible.

Poha

 

From there we went to Ma Pitambara Poha Centre to savour another staple breakfast dish of this place i.e the Poha. The crowd over there was a tell tale sign of the popularity of this humble flattened rice based dish and the place as well. The inherent lightness that shines through the medley of taste and texture derived from the different elements makes its a go to breakfast delicacy.

 

After the breakfast tour we reached Dana Oli, a street line with  Halwai or sweet shops. This place is the epicenter of fresh savoury and sweet snacks that reaches the locals. Our first destination here was the Gyana Halwai. We had come to try their famous kalakand and hence we were lucky because we got to taste some Mango kalakand from the fresh batch that had just been prepared. It’s easily a must try dessert if you are visiting this place during the mango seasons.

The second destination at Dana Oli was Agarwal sweets where we ate the delightful Sev Boondi  and Philori. In case of the former the fresh Sev was the hero. The later one was another popular snacks made from moong dal that was a bit spicy yet tasty.

Next stop was Bansal Petha Bhandar where you will find an eclectic variety of this tasty ash gourd based delicacy. Here we tasted the Paan gilori petha that clearly has a very strong flavour of betel leaves and gulkand. We also visited their factory to learn about the preparation of this very intriguing sweets. The process of making it was really tedious but the end product is amazing.

Choti Kachori

After gorging on the delectable breakfast delicacies all through the day, it was time to check out the evening time treats on the streets. We arrived at Sai Chaat to have the appetising Choti Kachoris. Essentially it was a mini version of the Moong Dal Kachoris that we have had at Bahadura Sweets. Hot and fresh bite size Kachoris were served with green and sweet chutney. The interesting thing about the eating experience here was the Donna or the leaf bowls in which the Kachoris were served. It tasted much better in those leaf bowls.

Continuing with our sweet overdose we came across Ishwar Kulfi Bandar, a famous Kulfi shop. Its rich Rabri Kulfi flavoured with rose and kewra was refreshingly yummy.

Karela

Next was the turn for some playful treats at Sahi Chat bhandar. So we are enormously impressed to try the urad dal golgappa and the exciting karela. The later one is essentially a crisp savoury snacks that resembles the bitter gourd in shape. It is served as a chaat with curd, chutneys and spices. The delicious contrast of taste and texture made it an impressive option that should be explored by every chat enthusiast.

For dinner we went to the Rajasthani Bhojnalaya for having their immensely popular Dal bati churma Thali comprising of Bati, Dal, Gatte ki Sabzi, Kadhi, Potato masala, Churma ladoo and garlic Chutney. The owner was such an amazing host that he himself served us and guided us with the right way to have the delicacy. His warmth and hospitality just took the culinary experience to a different realm. 

Balusahi

 

 

Our penultimate stop was Baba Gafoor ka Dargah. In the month of July there is a festivity at this holy place and it’s during this time only, that perhaps the country’s largest Balusahi is prepared as an offering to the saint. Each Balusahi was around a kilo in weight. We saw its preparation and also tasted it.

We ended our tour with a tasty Paan from Pardesi Paan Shop. This post meal treat served as a palate cleanser and a digestive stimulant.  The food journey at Gwalior was very exciting and we convey our heartfelt thanks to Shikha for assisting us in the exploration. 

 

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OLD GURGAON FOOD TOUR

 

Alongside the swanky malls, office buildings and residential high rises that defines most of the skylines in Gurgaon, there thrives the city’s oldest and busiest marketplace known as the Sadar Bazaar. Located next to the main bus stand in the old city, it remains a popular destination for most of the  residents because unlike the malls the products here are more economical plus there are more varieties too. No wonder that the marketplace, which stretches more than 5 km, has some amazing eateries, many of which are more than 60 years old. So in this tour we bring you our food explorations from the Sadar Bazaar, Gurgaon- a foodie’s haven and the birthplace of the very famous sweet the Dodha burfi, which is essentially originated in Pakistan.

 

We started the trail from the very popular Gandhi Ji Pakodewala whose pakoras are the hot favourites among the locals. A family business in its third generation, this pakoda shop is one to impress. Here we tried an assortment of  crisp and delicious Pakoras like Soya Chap pakodas, Kamal Kakdi or Lotus stem pakoda, Paneer, Palak and Onion pakodas etc. along with green and dry ginger chutney. 

 

Our next stop was Pandit Ji Ka Dhaba. There pure vegetarian meal that has no onion garlic in is relished by the locals as well as the visitors. We tried their thali comprising of two Chule ki Roti(their speciality), Dal, Potato curry with chole and Kheer. The spread was simple, tasty and quite soulful. So if you want to have a proper meal instead of snacks at this busy market then this place is just perfect. Also their famous kheer is available on Tuesdays only.

 

From there we went to Sardar Jalebi wala. The first thing that wondered us was the excited crowd of Jalebi aficionados and of course the irresistible smell of the freshly prepared Jalebis. The stellar reputation of this seventy years old shop can be attributed to the superlative quality of the Jalebis. The genial owner whose family came from the Sarkhoda District of Pakistan and set up the shop here, informed us that they make fresh batch every now and then and most importantly they don’t add any flavours or artificial colours. The crisp and syrupy beauties were truly toothsome. 

 

Next we reached Baljees restaurant to try their celebrated Pindi chole bhature which is deemed to be the best in this part of the city stretch. We weren’t disappointed at all as the chole bhature were truly delicious. Along with the Pindi chole we also had their paneer pakoda which was impressive too. This place serves delectable snacks spread at an affordable price. Interacting with the affable owner was a heartening experience. We were glued to his anecdotes regarding the shop, delicacies and his native place Dera Ghazi Khan at Pakistan.

Finally we reached the Sham Sweets an iconic establishment that is known to be the pioneer of Dodha burfi. Here we tried the deliciously nutritious Dodha burfi and the kesar khoya ghewar. The delectable dodha burfi is a typical regional specific sweetmeat that is characterized by caramelized and nutty flavour and granular texture. It prepared from a mixture of milk, germinated wheat flour and sugar. The ghewar is again a seasonal fare that is available during the rainy months. Mr Bajaj, the owner enlightened us with the origin of the dodha burfi in India. We too are thankful to his father for introducing this sensational sweet in India. They too belonged to the Dera Gazi Khan province in Pakistan.

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BHOPAL VEG FOOD TOUR

This week we bring you the delightful culinary explorations from the bustling capital city of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal. Also known as the city of lakes this place is renowned for its  beautiful lakes, architecture, lovely people and great food. It is undoubtedly the treasure trove for street food lovers who love snacks. Located in the Malwa plateau, the food is greatly influenced by Rajasthan on the account of the similar geographical region. We are here to explore the popular street food of the city that thrives on tea, Poha Jalebi and group conversations.

For the first half of the tour we were explored the food scenario on our own while for the other half we were joined by our sprightly host Aditya Kulshrestha who is a radio jockey with a popular radio station and a resident of this place. He was super excited to take us around some of the popular eateries at 6 No Hawkers’ Corner in the city.

Raju Tea Stall, Bhopal.

 

So our first stop for the day was Raju Tea stall the iconic snacks and tea point whose reputation is phenomenal. Here we tried two of their hot selling items i.e. the tea and the Mangodi or the Moong Dal fritters. The tea -milky, perfectly brewed and optimally sweet-was just outstanding. The fresh, hot and crisp Mangodas were quite flavourful and they made a pair with the most endeared beverage. Tea in Bhopal is such an indispensable thing that its jokingly said that its not blood but tea that flows through the blood vessels of its residents. This shop has earned a place in the hearts of the locals and celebrities as well. Apart from the food and cheerful ambience, another treat that left us amazed was Faiz Bhai’s unbelievable skill of preparing and serving the special tea that he has mastered with such a practiced ease.

Poha Jalebi

 

Next we went to Kalyan Singh Swad Bhandar to eat the most popular breakfast dish of Bhopal, the Poha and Jalebi. It’s so ubiquitous that it has become the representative delicacy of this city. The soft, fluffy and mildly spiced Pohas are effortlessly contrasted by the crisp and syrupy Jalebis. This humble dish that rules the heart of the locals from all walks of life is a must try.

Dahi Phulki from Sharma Chat, Bhopal.

After this we went to Sharma Chaat Shop for some delicious chaats. We loved their Dahi Phulki and Chole Tikiya, that were prepared using inhouse ingredients like the green and sweet chutney, fresh curd, masalas. No wonder it enhanced the yumminess of these fun treats.

Next while ambling down the streets we came across a cart selling Charoli and Khirni. These two wild berries consumed locally, are available for only a short span during summertime. They are found in the central part of India.

From there we went to Ma Narmada Falhari Shop, a popular stop for the locals for Sabudana or Sago based delicacies. Its Dahi Kichdi and Sabudana Vada was quite impressive as a snacking option.

Then we went to the famous sweetmeat shop named Burfi House to try their Rabri, Badam cake and Kheer Puri. The sweets were fresh and toothsome.

Next stop was the New Gujarat Cold Drinks. Here we tried the Badam(Almond) and Mango shakes which were refreshingly luscious. Our favourite was the thick and fresh mango shake.

Bhopali Paan.

 

Next was the turn of the quintessential Bhopali Paan from the famous Paan shop Zaika Paan. It was a perfect treat that prepared our palette for more food.

Dal Bafla.

 

After the Paan treat we reached the 6 no Hawkers’ Corner where we were joined by our host RJ Aditya who walked us around and helped us savour some scrumptious local flavours. Here we tasted the iconic Dal Bafla, Jalebi and Mangodi and Mava Bati. Of all these the Dal Bafla was the best. It is a delectable and nutritious traditional delicacy from Malwa. However, unlike Rajasthan’s fried Baatis, the Bafla is boiled in water, traditionally roasted over dung cake-fires and dunked in ghee. It is served as part of a set meal with Dal, Kadhi, Baigan Ka Bharta and Laddoos.

Our penultimate shop was Sagar Gaire a name that is familiar to all. Its Veg Biryani was flavoursome and appetising. This fast growing fast food chain in Bhopal has an interesting success story. It tale begins in the late 1990s when a modest yet passionate man named Sh. Dolraj Gaire started his venture by selling soup on the roadside. Back then he was known as Cycle Soupwala Presently, it is the city’s favorite spot for delicious and affordable food. Starting from mini meals and Chinese fast food, pastas, sandwiches, cold coffee and burgers, this place has got it all.

 

We ended our veg food trail with a special tandoori chai topped with chocolate sauce. The experience was quite amazing and it left our taste buds craving for more. We thank our genial host Aditya for his support and enthusiasm.

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Jalori Village Food Tour: 24 hours with a local Himachali Family.

In our remarkable journey across the captivating landscapes of Himachal Pradesh, we were fortunate enough to discover the beautiful village named Jalori situated in the Kullu district. Here we were visiting our gracious host Sanjay ji and his lovely family at their home stay namely the Apple Village Homestay, where we were spending the day.

This place is famous for its lush green rugged terrain dotted with fruit orchards, especially apples and dense pine tree stretches. After a long drive through the winding highway, we were now up for some thrill so we tried offroading. The drive through these less frequented uneven mountain trails was bumpy yet fun.

Next was the turn to scramble up the green trails of the elevated landscape. Sanjay ji lead us through bushy pathways up to his apple orchards that surrounded his home, which doubles up as a lovely homestay for discerning travelers. We were glad to witness such a bounty of organically grown apples all around us. We were also inspired to discover how ecologically aware people like Sanjay are growing apples and other fruits sustainably without the use of harsh fertilizers and sprays. This is a laudable effort in times when the world is slowly waking up to the harmful effects of fertilizers.

On reaching our destination, we were warmly received by his genial and enthusiastic family. We were excited to spend the day exploring the native food traditions with them. We started this culinary sojourn overseeing the meal preparations at the kitchen. Some local delicacies were being prepared by Sanjay ji’s mother and wife. The feast included Siddu, Indra, Sigdu, Vada, Rajma, Lingad ki Sabzi, labode ki chutney and steamed local rice named Nawari Nut. Of these, we were truly impressed by the Siddu, the Rajma which was just scrumptious and Indra or steamed horse gram pulse cake. Siddu is a staple delicacy of this region that is best relished with ghee.

 

 

As we sat down to eat, Sanjay ji and rest of the family members eagerly introduced us to each and every dish and its components. Knowing about the ingredients, in a little more depth, enhanced the whole eating experience. Not only were we contented and grateful for the delicious meal but could clearly feel the distinct bliss of eating naturally grown local produce. No wonder, the health benefits derived from these cogent food traditions intrinsic to the local communities makes them stay rooted to such wisdom.

After the food we went for a stroll across the property and landed up at a mud house or old structures built of natural stuffs like wood, mud etc. Such structure were common in this area though they were largely used by earlier generation. The interiors of these indigenous rooms stayed warm in winter and cool in summer.

 

 

In the evening we tried the Namkeen Chai prepared by Sanjay’s mother. It’s essentially a health giving beverage that is prepared by boiling pieces of bark from a local tree along with milk, carom seeds, butter and salt. There was no tea leaves in it. The next morning we had a comforting breakfast of fresh Rotis with Atte ka Halwa. This humble yet surreal breakfast was no less than a magical outcome of the convergence of fresh and natural ingredients, masterly hands and keen awareness of traditional wisdom about food. For the first time we had a Halwa that was tempered with carom seeds that was used to make it easily digestible.

 

Soon it was time to bid adieu to the gracious family whose simplicity, enthusiasm, hospitality and warmth will always be etched in our memories. We bid them goodbye with the silent promise to be back again. Heartfelt gratitude to Sanjay for such wonderful hospitality.

 

 

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A DAY OUT IN FAGU, SHIMLA

 

 

Fagu, a picturesque village in the district of Shimla is a perfect getaway for the nature lovers who enjoy verdant and misty hills, uneven valleys and tranquil views. This little gem instantly attracts you to its lap. We were visiting this stunning village for a day and were eager to explore the culture and food here. At Fagu we had stay put at this beautiful camp called Camp Nomad. The team at here was all set to give us a taste of the authentic local experience through different activities. So it’s here at the we got to taste the authentic local spread prepared by this amazing lady Yogi ji and her enthusiastic team. So come and join us for this cultural and culinary joyride at Fagu.

Before sitting down to eat the elaborate lunch we went to the kitchen space to oversee the local meal preparation. It was a totally busy work space. Here we spoke to the chefs from the village who were supervising the whole process. They told us about the different traditional delicacies with great eagerness.

Then it was time to check out the preparation of some of the dishes from the menu. First was the Siddu the quintessential bread from Himachal Pradesh. This traditional stuffed bread with sweet or savoury stuffings is made from leavened whole wheat flour dough. Yogi ji informed us that traditionally, in the making of Siddu, a small portion of 2 to 3 days old fermented dough was used. This helped in the fermentation of the dough-a very essential step. But now a days they use yeast for the process. These dough balls were steamed in a steamer. They are either eaten with ghee or with different curries and dal. One thing that we tried for the first time was the Bhang ke pakode had a distinctive flavour to it.

A scrumptious spread of local delicacies.

 

At lunchtime we all came together to eat the scrumptious meal prepared by Yogi ji and team. It included Rajma ki Sabzi, Meethi dal, Kadhi pakode, Lushke, Bhang ke pakode, sepu vadi, channe ka khatta, siddu etc. After that hearty meal we all gathered for Nati-Himachali folk Dance- dance performance with all the visitors and the locals who were present at the camp. It was a joyous experience to match steps to the melodious rendition of a local song.

After all the fun activities, we went out to explore the hamlet with our vivacious host Yogi ji. First we went to Desu Mata temple where we spent some time with the genial head priest and learnt about the history of the temple. From there we went to meet the legendary mountaineer and technical advisor, Sri Baldev ji who have scaled the Everest and had assisted many expeditions.

After exploring the neighbourhood of Fagu with Yogi ji, we returned to the camp and got ready for the dinner. Yogi ji whipped up a simple local meal of Lushke and Lingdu, a side dish made with Fiddlehead greens. After the elaborate lunch this humble dinner was truly satisfying.

We are truly grateful to all our amazing hosts- Savitoj, Yogi Ji and the team at Camp Nomad for such a wonderful experience at Fagu.

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BEST PLACES TO EAT IN SHIMLA

From Kasauli we drove to Shimla in search of local and popular delicacies. This picture perfect hill station fascinates each and every visitor with its terrific outdoors and unique charm interspersed with elements from colonial times. The capital city is always buzzing with tourists as here, one finds, panoramic views of the snow clad Himalayas, tiny paths along the pine forests, Elizabethan-style architecture and a delectable food culture, all of which together make it resemble a dreamy settings. 

 

The only and the best way to explore the central part of the city is by walking through the winding paths and stairs leading uphill and downhill. In this delightful gastronomic journey across this pretty town, we were joined by our awesome host Savitoj who walked us through the food scene enthralling us with historical references and tales.

 

Our first stop was the Indian Coffee House whose old world charm takes you back in time and gives you a taste of a bygone era. Here we tried the coffee, jam toast and Sambar Vada. The food and beverage both were decent but it was the ambience that made it special.

 

Next we tried an amazing hot Gulab Jamun from the iconic snack shop Baljees, a local favourite stop for quick snacks. After this we went to Sharma Chaat to taste their unique Parati Kulcha. This spicy and savoury dish is a must try delicacy in Shimla. 

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During our food explorations at Shimla we tried a local favourite Punjabi delicacy called the Parati Kulcha or Bheega Kulcha from Sharma Chat. It is essentially Kulcha soaked in a spicy but yummy Chana gravy and topped with curd, onions, chutney and fried potato chunks. The Kulcha was soft and juicy as it had soaked up the flavoursome gravy. As we put a spoonful into our mouth, we couldn't help but wonder at the surreal experience of the Kulcha melting away instantly, making way for all other elements in the dish. A must try things in Shimla if you love spicy and savoury stuffs that has a playful attraction to it. #himachalfoodseriesbydfw #himchalpradesh #himachalfoodseries #himachalpradeshtourism #walkwithdelhifoodwalks #walkwithanubhav #paratikulcha #shimla #shimlastreets #bheegakulcha #kulcha

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From there we went to Vijay Sweets to have tea along with some of their very famous tea time snacks. The assortment of sweet and savoury snacks was quite interesting, especially the Toshe. 

 

Then we tried the Spoonie from the renowned Trishool Bakery. The place was full of fresh bakery products and eager customers. At last we went on to try the traditional feast from Himachal Pradesh known as the Dham, that is served at all special functions. It’s was a hearty and nutritious platter consisting of the choicest delicacies from across the state. We tried the Madiyali Dham-native to the Mandi district- at a restaurant named Himachali Rasoi. It was indeed a scrumptious spread whose star dish was the Rajma Ka Madra.

 

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Dham refers to the traditional vegetarian feast in Himachal Pradesh, that's prepared during marriages, local festivals, and special occasions. It is a nutritious meal that is backed by the principles of Ayurveda. The native dishes include Rajma Madra, Kadhi, Khatta, sepu badi and so forth. The Dham manifests the treasure trove of food heritage in the state. It also brings the whole community closer as people sit down together to enjoy the elaborate meal. Dham differs from region to region and so you have the Kangra dham, Mandi or Mandyali Dham, Chamba Dham etc. where the ingredients and the dishes also vary from each other. In the picture we have the Mandiyali Dham that we tried at Himachal Rasoi in Shimla. It was simple, balanced and truly delicious. The star of the platter was the rich and robust Rajma ka Madra. It's a must try thing in Himachal Pradesh. #foodie #instafood #foodphotography #photooftheday #travelpic #exploringfood #himachalfoodseriesbydfw #himchalpradesh #himachalfoodseries #himachalpradeshtourism #walkwithdelhifoodwalks #walkwithanubhav #shimla #shimlastreets #himachalidham #shimladiaries

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After exploring the local food scene at The Mall Road and the Middle bazaar, we descended to the Lower bazaar to try some of the popular local delicacies. With crowded lanes lined with shops selling everything from wooden items, winter clothes to mobile phones and vegetables, this buzzing marketplace, is the main shopping destination for the visitors, locals and villagers.

 

Here at Lower Bazaar, one can buy affordable and inexpensive daily products for it was meant to cater to the needs of the common public. It also has a delightful vegetable market full of fresh fruits and veggies. The street food culture here is a mix of traditional delicacies and popular fast food influences. 

 

We began our journey from the sabzi mandi or the vegetable market. The crowded narrow lanes were lined with shops selling fragrant fruits and fresh vegetables. Here we spotted the lingdu or the Fiddlehead greens, a quintessentially local vegetable-essentially a fern- that is commonly consumed in this region.

 

We then arrived at the 117 years old sweet shop Meher Chand and Bros which is still one of the most sought after sweet shops in Shimla. Here we tried three different sweetmeats- cream chocolate(milk burfi with no trace of chocolate), panjiri ladoo and meshu-that were pretty good. We also picked up some historical anecdotes about the place from the owner.

 

After the pure ghee stuff it was time to savour some lip smacking pickles and preserves from another legendary place known as Thakur Bhrata. This shop too is nearly a decade old establishment that is coveted for its traditionally prepared pickles and sweet preserves made with good quality ingredients. We tried four things of which the Amla and Gajar ka Murabba were simple yet phenomenal.

 

From there we went to our next stop Drigen Chinese Fast Food Corner, an inconspicuous veg eatery that is immensely popular with the young crowd here. We had delicious momos and an interesting go to snacks called Kurkej which was essentially super tasty fried veggie sticks. 

 

Next was the turn of veg hotdog from a small roadside stall. It was the yummy chutney and the well made potato patties that made it a tasty treat.

 

Our final stop of our culinary sojourn in and around  Lower Bazaar was the Kamala Nehru Hospital premises. We were there to experience and support the exceptional langar service run by the charitable organisation Almighty Blessings. They serve free meals in the evening to all visitors. Savitoj informed us how the local communities like schools, restaurants etc contribute effectively in the functioning of this heartwarming initiative. We also visited the kitchen, took part in the service and at the end relish the simple meal of rice, dal and roti. Its was a surreal feeling to learn about this selfless endeavours of kindness and compassion. The food was superlative as it was served with such love and care.

 

In the last leg of our Shimla Food Tour we were out to explore few more popular and toothsome options both on the streets and at few sought after places. 

 

We started with a visit to a very special cafe called the Book Cafe which was nestled amidst the tranquil, cosy and picturesque backdrop of huge trees and misty mountains. Conceptualized by the Himachal Pradesh prison department, this cafe cum library is run by inmates of the Kaithu Jail, Shimla who are serving their life sentences. It is an ideal destination for all visitors who love to spend time with books in the lap of nature while sipping coffee or eating the bakery fares prepared and served by the friendly and efficient inmates. You might also engage in a conversation with them and discover more about their lives and experiences.

 

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On the concluding day of our Shimla food trail, we visited a very special cafe called the Book Cafe which was nestled amidst the tranquil, cosy and picturesque backdrop of huge trees and misty mountains. Conceptualised by the Himachal Pradesh prison department, this cafe cum library is run by inmates of the Kaithu Jail, Shimla who are serving their life sentence. It is an ideal destination for all visitors who love to spend time with books in the lap of nature while sipping coffee or eating the bakery fares prepared and served by the friendly inmates. Do make time to visit this place in order to learn and support this innovative rehabilitation programme for convicts, that intends to provide livelihood options to the inmates who have maintained a remarkable conduct in a stipulated span of their sentence. The staff here is very cordial and efficient. You might also engage in a conversation with them and discover more about their lives and experiences. #foodie #instafood #foodphotography #photooftheday #travelpic #exploringfood #himachalfoodseriesbydfw #himchalpradesh #himachalfoodseries #himachalpradeshtourism #walkwithdelhifoodwalks #walkwithanubhav #shimla #shimlastreets #bookcafeshimla

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Do make time to visit this place in order to learn more  and support this innovative rehabilitation programme for convicts, that intends to provide livelihood options to the inmates who have maintained a remarkable conduct in a stipulated span of their sentence. 

 

From there we reached the most popular ice cream joint in the town, The Embassy Ice cream. Savitoj introduced us to this place whose chocobars and mango duds were the best chilled treats that he has grown up eating. The raspberry ice cream comprising of a smooth vanilla ice cream base topped with raspberry crush was yummy and delightful.

 

Next we walked up to a person selling fried peanuts and chana right under the cool shade of a huge tree. We were surprised to know that he has been selling this playful snack in paper cones for the past 43 years. As we gleefully munched on the crispy, crunchy and spice mixed peanuts right out of the paper cones, Savitoj shared his memories of getting them just for rupees two while returning home from school. 

 

After the nostalgic treat and pleasant interaction with a lively little girl occupied with her bubble making toy, Savitoj took us to Sita Ram and Sons, one of the most iconic eateries in Shimla, whose Lucchi Chana is hugely popular with visitors and locals alike. The plateful of thin yet spongy Lucchi or Bhatura and a distinctly flavourful chana topped with chutney was indeed delicious. No wonder it’s a place that you must definitely try in Shimla.

 

Next was the turn of the Cheese Kulcha. We quite liked this cheesy twist to the popular chana kulcha where the bun like kulcha was stuffed with cheese slice and chana mixture and topped with mayo. It’s an easy to grab stuff to check the hunger pangs while walking.

 

The next destination that Savitoj fondly took us to for a unique fusion experience was an unassuming yet popular joint serving the Chinese Paratha. This deep fried paratha, somewhat resembling a pie in appearance and fried momo in taste, was stuffed with a delicious momo fillings and noodles. It was crisp from outside and soft inside. 

 

Our penultimate destination was the Ashiana restaurant. The ambience was amazing and so was food. We tried two popular Himachali non veg dishes, Chaa Meat and Anardana Chicken, along with the Himachali veg speciality Chane Ka Madra. All the three delicacies were delectably tangy because of the sour elements like curd and anardana. We thoroughly enjoyed the spread. You can try this place for traditional cuisine.

 

Our culinary trail ended with chocolate and strawberry pan from Guru Pan. It wasn’t very appealing as the taste of the paan was completely overpowered by the sweetness and the chocolate and strawberry flavours.

 

With this our Shimla Food Tour came to end. We are truly grateful for the enlightening company of our genial host Savijot Singh.

 

Video Links for the Shimla Food Tour:

 

Shimla Food Walk Part 1 

 

Shimla Food Walk Part 2

 

 

Shimla Food Walk Part 3

 

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VADODRA FOOD TOUR PART 2:

Another day in Vadodara and today we explore their unique street food. Our food journey begins with a dish from the Kutch region known as Dabeli. We try two kinds of Dabeli, Kutch dabeli which doesn’t consist of any oil and butter while the Ahmedabadi special Dabeli is as we lovingly call maska maar ke!

Dabeli is a bun with lots of khajoor (dates) chutney, coriander chutney, tomato chutney, pomegranates and mashed potatoes with lots of dabeli masala in it which gives it a distinct flavour. Next, we head to the Canara coffee house famous for Poona Missal. Here, missal literally means mixture and Poona missal is a mix of sprouts, chopped onions, tomatoes and sev topped with lots of curd.

Next, we head to a very old shop immensely loved by the people of Gujrat known as the, Manmohan bhajiya samosa stall. Here the samosas were laced with tamarind chutney, finely chopped onions and green chillies giving it an edge from the usual samosas we all eat. Not to forget, they are very filling too!

Next, we go to Sainath wafers and try their fresh crispy potato wafers and their other varieties in it. Later, we head to the iconic sweet shop established by Duliram Ratanlal Sharma in 1885. Here we try the Penda dusted with powdered sugar and surprisingly it’s not overly sweet too! Thus, a must try when in Gujrat.

Walking through the streets of Vadodara we reach the Jaihind restaurant for some authentic Maharashtrian dishes. Here we try the cult Maharashtrian dishes like Sabudana Vada, Farali sabudana khichdi and shing laddoo. The Sabudana Vada was served fresh with the outer portion super crunchy served with peanut chutney and sweet raita with curry leaves and cumin seeds added to it. Sabudana khichdi which was composed with boiled potatoes, cumin, curry leaves and peanuts served with sweet raita. The shing laddoo was made up of peanuts, jiggery and ghee.

Next, we went to a really old shop which was 148 years old known as Tamrul Prakash and serves fresh herbal paan. Here we try the dry paan and the Calcutta paan. Next, we briefly stopped at the Shri Bhagyoday Dughdalay street shop for thick milk cream salad loaded with strawberries and other fruits. Simply amazing and a must try! It is a desert in itself! We then headed to the oldest bakery in vadodora known as the Shree surti bakery where we tried fresh crispy naan khati and coconut cookies. Best enjoyed with a cup of tea, the cookies would just melt in your mouth.

However, one of the major highlight was ShriRam tamtamwala where we tried the mix fruit tamtamwala. The tamtamwala is usually made of chick flour and consists of a variety of 24 mixtures served beautifully with tomatoes, chopped coriander leaves, sprinkled with pomegranates, lemon juice and kaccha aam powder.

We also then go to the new millennium restaurant where we try their chicken biryani served in dum style served with raita and spiced buttermilk.

In the late evening, we visited the night street food market also known as the ratri bazaar open till 4 am in the morning. Ratri bazaar is an amalgamation of cuisines all across India under one roof and thus caters to everyone food’s pallet. Here we try the cheese biryani served with cashews, caramelised onions and served with thick gravy. The biryani is caters to the hyderbadi style.

The street food journey ended on a sweet note as we went to laari lappa lassi and tried their laari lappa special lassi. The lassi is one of its kind, served with cream, cherries, gems, choco-chips, raisins, almonds served with ice-cream.

 

Places Visited:

Canara coffee house

Beside Premanand Hall, Dandia Bazar, Vadodara, 390001

 

Manmohan bhajiya samosa stall

Near, Surya Narayan Bag, Kharivav Rd, Raopura, Vadodara, Gujarat 390001

 

Sainath wafers

Bhanu Sadan, Vinoba Bhave Rd, Kothi Char Rasta, Salatwada, Anandpura, Vadodara, Gujarat 390001

 

Jaihind restaurant

Raopura Rd, Opposite Kumar Shala No:1, Raopura, Vadodara, Gujarat 390001

 

Tamrul Prakash paan shop

SB-37 Windsor Plaza, RC Dutt Rd, Alkapuri, Vadodara, Gujarat 390007

 

The Shri Bhagyoday Dughdalay

Vinoba Bhave Rd,Raopura Main Road, Near Tower, Raopura, Mandvi, Vadodara, Gujarat 390001

 

Shree surti bakery

Mahajan Ln, Raopura, Mandvi, Vadodara, Gujarat 390001

 

ShriRam tamtamwala

Chowkhandi, Main Road, Kansara Pole, Vadodara, Gujarat 390017

 

The new millennium restaurant

33,Sampatrao Colony, Near Hotel GRG, Alkapuri First lane nrJetalpur bridge, Jetalpur Rd, Vadodara, Gujarat 390005

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Vadodara food tour part 1

Today we visit Vadodara, formally known as Baroda as we begin our food tour. Vadodara is a beautiful city filled with culture and is the third largest city in the western part of India and the state Gujrat. It is also the cultural capital of the state, the locals are known as barodians and they immensely love their street food. The street food culture is vibrant with great influence of Maharashtrian cuisine. Both Maharashtrian and Gujrat cuisine coincide and co-exist with eachother. Also, the city happens to be technologically sound and well-maintained.

Along with Tuli Banerjee, a writer and a food blogger we embark on this journey to explore their street food. We started with kathiawadi khadki, a famous restaurant known to serve famous kathiawadi dishes. We were served with a full-fledged thali which consisted of two different kinds of bread, millet bread and corn bread along with sev tamatar, garlic pickle, and potatoes in garlic sauce, ringanu audu. Kathiawadi dishes are lot more spicy as compared to gujrati dishes since they are more on the sweet side. We ended our meal with rajbhog shrikhand filled with dry fruits is mainly made from hung yogurt and gehu ka ladoo topped with poppy seeds and is infused with ghee and jaggery.

We next headed to vishal samosa sandwich where we tried their basic sev sandwich. Our next destination was mahakali sev usal and tried their sev usal, a dish which is a mix of sweet, spicy and tangy flavours which is made from peas, indian spices, and garnished with sev. The dish is accompanied with pav. Right opposite to this shop we went to Rajasthan ice cream parlour which houses a huge variety of ice-creams. Here we tried one scoop of modak flavour, ginger and honey flavour, guava flavour, jamun flavour, jackfruit flavour, pan masala flavour, mawa flavour and kulf flavour. Each and every scoop had its own different taste and stood out. We also tried their rabri faluda ice-cream. Undoubtedly, when it comes to street food Gujrat is a land of innovations!

We also went to raju omelette shop which has its own outlets in USA, Thailand and Dubai and houses 30 different varieties of omelettes. We went on to try the butter crush omelette filled with loads of butter. Next, was Dayal Ragda pattice where we tried the ragda pattice, it is made up of potatoes and bread and is served with spicy chick pea curry topped with coriander chutney and crushed onions.

A very important component of Gujrati cuisine is farsan, salty snacks. In order to try this we head to Jagdish farshan where we try the local delicacies. Really crispy and crunchy, Gujrat is certainly a land of snacks! We next headed to mann shanti handwa and dhokla house. Here we tried the Handwo, a pan cake made up of multi-grain flour tempered with sesame seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Truly delicious and was served with three different varieties of chutneys that simply complimented the dish. We stopped briefly at the delhi chaat corner to try pani puri with ragda. We also tried papdi na lot, a thick paste of rice flour which is steamed and is topped with oil and masala. Lastly, we head to Jay maruti nandan soda shop. A shop that is highly innovative with its soda drinks. We tried vimto soda drink, made with kokam, lemon and masala. We also tried the tulsi soda, extremely healthy and good for digestion after a full day filled with delicacies from around the city!

Places visited:

kathiawadi khadki

Four Ways, Navrang Cinema Rd, Near Tower, Raopura, Mandvi, Vadodara, Gujarat 390001

 

Jay maruti nandan soda shop

2, Shivalay Complex, Lions Hall Rd, Haribhakti Extension, Krishna Society, Paris Nagar, Diwalipura, Vadodara, Gujarat 390015

 

delhi chaat corner

Mahalaxmi Complex, Near Bank of Baroda, Muktanand Road, Karelibaug, Vadodara

 

mann shanti handwa and dhokla house

Mahalaxmi Complex, Near Bank of Baroda, Muktanand Road, Karelibaug, Vadodara

 

raju omelette shop

C196, Thana Rd, Block C 2, Bhajanpura, Tukhmirpur, Delhi, 110053

 

vishal samosa sandwich

101, Alkapuri Rd, Aradhana Society, Vishwas Colony, Alkapuri, Vadodara, Gujarat 390020

 

mahakali sev usal

Nehru Bhawan, GF-14/15 Prathmesh Plaza, Palace Rd, Kirti Stambh, Behind, Vadodara, Gujarat 390001

 

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SURAT FOOD TOUR PART 2:

Today, we explore the part of South Gujrat and Gujarat is certainly beautiful during heavy rains and monsoon and it only gets better with a hot cup of Chai! Along with Rohan Bhai and Yash Bhai we head to a morning chai place known as the Golden Tea point under the citylight flyover.

Later we head to a small town in Gujarat known as Rander where the local food culture assimilated the Burmese street food known as the Khaosa and the architecture is to look out for! We head to Lijjat khvasa centre and try their Khaosa. Khaosa is pan-fried chicken fried with lots of spices and served with green chillis, broth whose main component is peanut paste is topped with crushed papdi. Next we tick off the list, a 32 year old food cart run by Khalid bhai known as the Khalid aloo puri waala and tried their aloo puri, a bite-size dish served with white flour puris topped with, aloo, kokam chutney and sprinkled with crushed onions. After a quick tour of Rander, we headed to try an innovative dish known as locho. Here we try locho’s two different versions one with the peanut oil and the other with butter at Shriji Locho. Locho is a morning breakfast loved by people in Gujrat.

Next we moved to Madidi khamni shop and tried their Sew Khamni and Surti pettice which is basically, fried balls stuffed with mawa, dry fruits, fennel seeds and spices served with coriander chutney. Here we try the famous, Khandvi which is made up of besan. They are so thin in texture so they’re served rolled and are very delicate when it comes to its taste.

Next, we move on to Jalram Rasawala khaman and try their Rasawala khaman served with thick curry with is made up of 5 different kinds of dal and tempered with mustard seeds and topped with tomatoes and coriander leaves. This is best served with sweet lassi. Next we tried the popular drink of Surat known as Coco at A one coco a 60 year old shop. It is a thick drink made up of milk, chocolate powder, sugar and ice. We next headed to Dotiwala bakers and confectioners. Here we try the Naankhatai and surti biscuits. Surti biscuits are small-sized butter biscuits and they have short-breads known as Naankhatai.

In the evening, we headed to Lashkari Bhajiya. And here we try the Ratalu and tomato bhajiya. It is one of the most famous bhajiya shops in Gujrat. The deep-fried golden bhujiyas is served with green chillis and mustard chutney. Next, we try authentic surti non-vegetarion dishes like tapelu, prawn masala, bhajelu and much more… We try the prawn curry served in nice coriander gravy, sprinkled with Indian spices and topped it up with lemon juice! It was a bomb for the taste pallet! To end the meal, we go to the the ghantewaala paan shop and try their rose paan which simply melts in the mouth!

 

PLACES VISITED:

Golden Tea point

Lal Gate Main Road, Lal Gate, Surat – 395003, Opposite Chauta Bazar

 

Madidi khamni shop

Plot No 9, Bharat Housing, Udhna Magdala Road, Surat – 394210, Near Sardar Park

 

Lijjat khvasa centre

Kabutar Khana Mota Bazar Rd, Rander, Surat, Gujarat 395005

 

Lashkari Bhajiya

Sultanabad, Langar Char Rasta, Surat – Dumas Rd, Surat, Gujarat 394550

 

The ghantewaala paan shop

Gh-7, Western Park, Adajan Dn, Surat – 395009, Near Gangeshwar Mandir, Sneh Sankul Wadi

 

A one coco

L-42, Sargam Shopping Center, 1, Surat – Dumas Rd, Parle Point, Somanath Society, Umra Gam, Athwa, Surat, Gujarat 395007

 

Shriji Locho

1B, City Light Rd, Shringar Society, City Light Town, Athwa, Surat, Gujarat 395007

 

Khalid aloo puri waala

Parsiwad Rd, Rander, Surat, Gujarat 395005

 

Jalram Rasawala khaman

Chowkbazar,Nr.Jai Shankar Lassi,Surat., Surat, Gujarat 395003