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Ved Dhabha : Worth the wait and the weight.

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

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

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

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

Name: Ved Dhaba

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

Phone Number: 011 23850931

 

 

 

 

 

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Pushkar Food Tour

Pushkar Food Tour

By Anubhav Sapra

Pushkar is an ideal place for a street food walk. The whole city can be covered in a couple of hours on foot. Infact, if you walk closely observe your surroundings, there is a chance that you will start recognising the faces of the locals. This is what happened with me when I visited Pushkar last week. After one round of the city, I can recall and recognise most of the places and people. That’t the beauty of this small city.

While most of the blogs talk about the cafes in Pushkar, I was quite sure there is going to be some unexplored street food of Pushkar to be unearthed. Like most of the temple cities in India, Pushkar too has amazing street food. I walked and walked and walked from morning till evening, all the while talking to locals and trying a delicious array of street food.

The journey started with Pushkar Breakfast Corner near varaha ghat. A street food cart that sells Pizza Pakwan i.e., poha with mathri and dal – this was a perfect example street fusion food. Dal Pakwan is an authentic sindhi breakfast dish where big sized mathri, made up of maida is served with dal. And poha – flattened rice, cooked with mustard seeds is a famous breakfast of north India. Pushkar breakfast corner shop simply combined both of them – dal pakwan and poha, and named it Pizza Pakwan. The base is of mathri, over it he evenly spreads poha, then adds dal, and tops it with sew, namkeen, onion, chutney, chaat masala and fresh coriander. It was a simple twist given to the dishes, which made it taste great. The crunchiness of the mathri blended perfectly with the light and fluffy poha. The crispy additions on the top like fried peanuts and sew added a spicy twist to it. The shop opens at 6 am and everything gets finished by 12 noon. The pizza pakwan is priced at Rs 30.

Just on a walking distance is another shop that opens up only in the morning time– Pushkar chaat bhandar- mohan ji bhujia wale famous for pakodi, which is also known as bhujia here. The shop is run by father son duo mohan ji and kamal. It is sold by kilograms at 200 per kg. Normal small size pakodis (fritters) of spinach and besan are topped with kadi (not to be confused with curry). The way kadi is prepared in this part of Rajasthan is completely different from other parts. There is no use of yoghurt or buttermilk in it. It is simply made up of besan and water. The combination of kadi with pakodi is quite unique to Ajmer district of Rajasthan. In Bihar, I had tried kadi with samosa. This was a really fulfilling meal. The fresh crisp pakodis with plain kadi were a perfect breakfast.

After having kadi pakodi, we tried kachori with mango chutney at Ugma ji shop. The dough of refined flour is stuffed with dal ki pitthi to be deep fried in oil. What made it special is the thick mango chutney served with kachori. The kachoris were crisp and flaky.

Malpua
Malpua

Pushkar can be named as the city of Malpua. You can spot a malpua shop in every nook and corner of the city. There is a dedicated lane for sweet sellers in Pushkar near Gau ghat- Halwai gali or the street of sweet makers.

To make delicious malpuas, first the batter of white flour is prepared; Second, it is poured and deep fried in oil; third, the cooked malpuas are soaked in sugar syrup. What makes Pushkar malpua special is the rabri malpua. Instead of adding water to the batter, condensed milk is added to give it an amazing nutty taste. The most popular shop in Pushkar is Sarvadia mishthan bhandar in Halwai gali.

After having malpua at Sarvadia misthan bhandar, we went on to try Laffa at Ganga restaurant. The whole city of Pushkar is known for religious tourism and leisure tourism. There are cafes and restaurants catering to people from all over the world. Most of the foreign tourists are from Middle East and they have somewhat influenced the street food as well. There are 3 shops next to each other selling falafel, hummus and other middle eastern food. The most famous dish is the laffa- a wrap stuffed with hummus, falafel, garlic sauce, mushroom, onion, tomatoes, potato wedges, pepper, salt. Cooked in Olive oil, it was a delight to watch the preparation. And the taste was simply amazing. The other dish we tried at laffa wala was the pizza roll. It was the same filling with loads of cheese except falafel, hummus and potato wedges.

Next, we went on to try the golgappa at a street cart with 6 different flavours- regular (mint and jeera), garlic, cumin, mint, hajmola and lemon. My favourite was lemon- a truly refreshing water with the right spices.

Lala ji
Lala Ji Parantha Wala, Pushkar

The next stop was Lala ji ke parantha cart. It can be spotted anywhere in the lanes of Pushkar after 7 pm till 12 midnight till the stock lasts. This was the best parantha I’ve ever had. I tried the mix vegetable cheese parantha. The stuffing of the parantha consists of mashed potatoes, sew ( namkeen), onion, paneer,cheese, spices. The paranthas are first pan fried in butter then in ghee. There are cooked properly and cut into small pieces with the help of a pizza cutter. The paranthas are served with a dip made up of yoghurt and garlic. The cost of one parantha was Rs 120.

The last food stop was Makhaniya gulkand lassi at Kumawat lassi cart. At kumawat lassi cart, the thick lassi is topped with cream, rabri and gulkand (a blend of rose petals, sugar and spices ). Priced at INR 30 and served in a clay cup, it tasted divine.

What a marvelous city!

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.