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Jodhpur Food Tour

Jodhpur Food Tour

Also known as the blue city and the sun city, Jodhpur is the foodie city of Rajasthan.

In the sweltering heat of June, when the average temperature is above 42 degree Celsius, we visited Jodhpur to explore the local food. We had no contact in the city but with the firm determination and passion for food exploration, we asked a few locals about the places to eat and we must say, all the recommended places were amazing.

The Jodhpur food journey started with a famous thali restaurant in Jodhpur- Gypsy restaurant in Sardarpura. I believe thali really captures the essence of ‘Indianness’. With so much of variety in one plate, it changes from one place to another. At Gyspy, the standard thali was a mix of dishes from Rajasthan and Gujarat. There were approximately 35 dishes that were served one by one. The servers talk to each other in sign language. What is unique to jodhpuri thali is mirchi vada chaat, ker sangri, gwar phali, and gatte ki sabzi. Priced at INR 400, this was the best vegetarian thali, I have had in a long time.

After having our fill at Gypsy, it was time for a cup of strong tea. We stopped at Bhati tea stall, the best tea shop in Jodhpur.

In the evening, we headed out to try mirchi vada at Surya Namkeen near Jalori Gate circle. This is one dish that defines the street food of Jodhpur. A big size green chilli is wrapped with spicy mixture of mashed potatoes, then drenched in the batter of chickpea flour, and finally, deep fried in oil. The locals enjoy it with a slice of white bread as it balances the spiciness of the chilli.

Next, we went on a full-on street food tour near Ghantaghar. We started with Arora’s famous dahi gunja. A man with a big moustache, Mr Arora, worked as a school van driver for many years but his passion to cook made him start this shop near Ghantaghar. Dahi Gunja is simply a dahi vada that is stuffed with ginger, and cashews. The chaat is topped with sev, and fried palak patta. It had all the flavours which a perfect chaat should have- sweet, spicy, and tangy.
Just next to Arora chaat bhandar is Shahi Samosa shop. Not my favourite but the locals highly recommended it. It was simply aloo samosa with a small piece of cashew in it. The addition of cashew makes it royal that’s why they are known as shahi samosas.

At the entrance of Ghantaghar is another shop named Mishrilal, famous for its Lassi. The shop was established in 1927 by Late Shri Mishrilal ji Arora at sardar market, Girdikot. It started with a small set up of selling namkeen kachori and kofta. Later from 1960, Radheyshyam Arora and his son Rajendra Arora began making a special lassi and named it ‘Makhaniya lassi’.

I had tried lassi at many places in India but this was quite a unique in flavour. Prepared with highly compressed curd and ingredients like cardamom, kewda and sugar, it tasted more like shrikhand.

Next morning, Dr Navneet, our friend in Jodhpur took us on a food tour in the Old city. Old city is the place where you get the real deal. The first stop was Narayan Mishthan Bhandar near Rakhi house for kachori. I must say this was the best kachori I’ve ever had. Normally, the kachoris are a bit doughy in texture with no filling at all and most of the shops add spicy thick potato curry to enhance the taste. At Narayan’s it was deep fried in ghee. Fried to perfection, it was literally melt -in- mouth or should we say real khasta kachori. It doesn’t require any chutney to eat. All the sweets at Narayan are made in ghee. We also tried fresh malpuas. Those were delicious too!

Meandering the lanes of Jodhpur, out next stop was Chaturbhuj Rameshchandra for Gulab jamun. The shop is in Kandoi bazar. This lane has many shops selling the khoya or mawa for making sweets. And the names of all shops are Chaturbhuj, with all of them selling the same stuff. However, Dr Navneet took us to the right spot for the soft and sweet Gulab jamun. We also tried two other sweets there – mishri goonga (milk solids stuffed with sugar crystals) and mawa chakki (similar to Kalakand in texture).

Kanji vada is another dish popular in Marwar region of Rajasthan. Vadas made up of moong dal are immersed or soaked in mustard water locally known as ‘rai ka paani’ or ‘kanji’. Before being relished, the mixture is fermented for a day. Kanji is the perfect refreshing drink that aids digestion and protects you from the heat. Brijwasi chaat bhandar is the shop to savour kanji bade in Jodhpur.

It was time for sweets after spicy and tangy kanji vadas. We started with Rabri ke laddu. The name itself sounds mouthwatering! Instead of water, thick condensed milk is used to prepare the batter of chickpea flour. Once the boondi is fried, it is soaked in sugar syrup. The result is the thick and sticky texture of laddu. They are given a round shape but it can not be held in the hand. It is so soft that it unfurls. A super delicious delicacy available at Mohanji sweets, Aada Bazar, Inside Jalori Gate.

The staple food or the comfort food of Rajasthan is Daal baati. We had always tried it in thali restaurants but this was the first time I tried it at a specialised restaurant known for daal baati and churma laddu. More common in the countryside of Rajasthan, baati is simply a dumpling made up of whole wheat flour, baked in coal. They are served with mixed lentils, spicy garlic red chilli chutney and green chilli pickles. We tried Dal baati at Bhawani Daal Baati shop near Nasrani Cinema hall, Chopasni road. We also visited the kitchen where baatis are made. Hygienically prepared, the baatis are baked in an electrical oven. It was interesting to see the electrical baati crusher. Instead of using the hands to crush the baati, they are put inside a crusher and you get finely ground baati to be easily mixed with dal and chutney. The churma laddu, again made up of whole wheat flour with sugar, ghee and nuts was to die for.

The highlight of Jodhpur food tour was Malai ki roti, qabuli, gulabjamun ki sabzi. In the evening, we again went to the Old city to a place where one can taste malai ki roti. Malai ki roti is similar to papuri/malai poori in Puri, Odisha or malai gilori of ram ashray in lucknow. But what makes it special? The speciality is that the texture is completely different from other places. Cow milk is used for this preparation. The milk is constantly boiled until you get a thick layer of cream on the top, that’s why, the locals call it roti. Once the roti is prepared they are soaked in sugar syrup and sprinkled with saffron water, cardamom, almonds and pistachios. I must confess, I am a big fan of traditional Indian milk-based sweets ranging from Mathura’s khurchan to malai gilori in Lucknow. With just simple ingredients, we have so much of variety of sweets. India is truly a land of sweets.

Another dish that intrigued me was gulab jamun ki sabzi. At first instance, I couldn’t believe that one can make sabzi out of sweet gulabjamun. Later, I came to know that the gulab jamuns are not soaked in sugar syrup they are simply cooked in curry paste. Most of the sweet shops in Jodhpur sell gulab jamun without adding them to the sugar syrup. If you deconstruct the gulab jamun, it is just khoya that is deep fried. If added in the curry, it gives a bit of malai kofta texture. It was delicious. The sandwich was again made with thick gulabjamun sabzi. In two slices of bread, a generous helping of sabzi is stuffed and then cut into two halves. The last dish we tried here was Jodhpuri kabuli pulav- a rich rice preparation with mix vegetables and dry fruits. The best food cart to savour all of this opposite Kunj Bihari Temple, Katla Bazar.

Finally, it was time for some non-vegetarian food and we visited 2 places recommended by Dr Navneet. Although, the most famous Rajasthani non-veg delicacy is lal maas and junglee maas, we gave it a miss in jodhpur instead tried the street dishes. We tried chicken silly at Al Baik – a deep fried chicken in the batter of corn flour and eggs. And Kashmiri chicken at Jammu and Kashmir hotel near railway reservation counter in Jodhpur. No way related to Kashmiri cuisine, I wonder why named it Kashmiri chicken. It was chicken cooked in mutton keema gravy topped with double fried egg. Spicy but truly delicious, I moped the thick keema gravy with fresh and crispy tandoori rotis.
Jodhpur also has a lively street food culture. Near shastri circle, every evening food carts sell street food from all over India at one place – from paani puri to vada pav, you get them all. I tried the girlfriend chaat- a super spicy cup filled with tamarind sauce, amchur powder and spices. Not my kind of chaat, but a popular amongst the locals. After exploring few of the food stalls, we ended our food journey at Marwar kulfi cart.

Truly a place that steals every foodie’s heart!

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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AGRA BREAKFAST FOOD WALK

AGRA BREAKFAST FOOD WALK

 

The Tajnagari needs no introduction. It is home to perhaps two of the greatest symbols of love. Taj Mahal and hot street food made with love. I came here to give the latter its due attention. The city comes to life in the early hours of the day, and so did I, excited to explore this culinary haven.

My ambrosial journey through the rustic lanes of the city began at Dilli Gate Chai Waala, a small, bustling shop that never closes. And it literally never closes, serving piping hot tea 24×7, this ever-welcoming shop does not even have a shutter! Here I met Tahir, who shared my passion for greasy street-food and was well versed with the nooks and corners of the city, to take me on a breakfast food trail. We started with some Chai with pleasing flavours of ginger, long pepper, and cardamom; and to go along with it some butter lathered elaichi rusk and Bun Maska. The Bun Maska, like all other breads available at this place, was toasted on coals, which is their speciality.

With Chai in our systems and appetites expanded, we were ready to take on our next adventure and have, as Tahir mentioned, some Lashkari food; the food of the Mughal Army. We headed straight to the heart of the walled city, Nai Basti, but don’t let the name confuse you. Nai by name, the entire place was drenched in an old-world charm. Through the tight alleys we reached Mughal Nihari, a place known to have kept the authentic flavours and strong use of masalas intact in its Nihari recipe. The Paaye, meat, and bone marrow are all cooked overnight in the authentic masalas and served with the traditional Khamiri Roti. The fibres of the soft, well-cooked meat break down into the gravy and pleasing my palette with the strong masalas. Be sure to ask them for what among the mutton, Paaye, and bone marrow you want more and they will be more than happy to build your bowl to your preference. For Rs. 80 per plate, this place is sure to leave your pocket and your stomach happy, but make sure you reach here early in the morning as they run out of the preparation by 10 am.

Next on our food trail was Haleem. On a small, road-side stand in Kashmiri Bazaar, awaited us an early morning Haleem, a thick, protein filled gravy made of daal, meat, and an assortment of spices, that is sure to keep your hunger at bay for a few hours. This Haleem was loaded with turmeric and served, dressed with green chilli to add to the heat. The dish is cooked overnight where pressure is applied to the daal and the meat, which makes the fibres of the meat dissolve in the gravy, so you bite into a thick pool of nutrition and powerful flavours.

A walk through Agra’s street food marvels would have been incomplete without some Bedai, so to get our fix, we reached Munna Lal Mithai Waala. The Bedai or Bedami Puri was served with aloo ki sabzi (potato curry), pumpkin gravy, and curd. The puri, stuffed with urad daal and made in desi ghee, was satisfyingly crispy. To go with it we had Moong Daal Halwa that washed my mouth with its overwhelming amounts of ghee.

Kala Mehal and its residing Sindhi community had waiting for us the Sindhi Pakwaan, which is a huge round matthi, served with chickpea gravy loaded with a strong doze of spices and masalas and topped with some fresh green chilli, red onions, and oil.

After our fix of the Sindhi cuisine, we headed to an archaic looking shop that has been serving its delicacy since 1840, Chimman Lal Puri Waale. Tahir called it Agra’s “Museum of Food”, because of how well it preserved the original flavours of the Tajnagari. For a mere amount of Rs. 30, they gave us a plate loaded with two puris, one of them stuffed with a methi or fenugreek filling, and small portions of potato-chickpea sabzi, sweet-tasting white pumpkin sabzi, aloo-matar-paneer sabzi, some chutney and achaar, and to wash everything down, bowls of kheer and raita. Every preparation had a distinct taste, perhaps unique to Agra and Banaras.

To end our breakfast tour, we arrived at Gopaldas Petha in Subhash Bazaar to try the much-coveted Agra ka Petha wrapped in the refreshing flavour of gulabjal. Petha was once known as the “dessert for the poor”, because of the inexpensive ingredients that go into its making, but the end result left me absolutely content. You can get this Petha for Rs. 300/kg at Gopaldas Petha.

 Agra truly served its culmination of communities, cultures, and history on the plate with just the right amount of sweet, spice, and warmth.

Edited By- Arshia Bhutani

 

 

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AJMER FOOD TOUR

Ajmer food tour

By Anubhav Sapra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Anubhav Sapra
Anubhav Sapra is an avid foodie! He is a Founder but proudly calls himself a Foodie-in-chief at Delhi Food Walks. He is also a street-food and Indian regional cuisine connoisseur and loves to write about street-food.
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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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Jammu to Gulmarg Food Journey

Jammu to Gulmarg Food Journey

By Anubhav Sapra

After an amazing street food journey in Jammu, it was time to move on to the next destination – Kashmir and Ladakh. In this blog, we would be covering the journey from Jammu to Gulmarg.

Route Map- Jammu-Udhampur-Samroli-Peerah-Ramban-Banihal-Qazikund-Srinagar-Gulmarg

The condition of the roads is quite bad from Udhampur to Qazikund. So, be prepared for a bumpy ride.

Food Map- Samoli-Peerah-Qazikund-Tangmarg-Gulmarg—Makasi sout-Rajma Chawal-Rista and kebab-Daniwal Korma

YouTube video link- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhsALpRA_Po

The terrain completely changes once you cross Udhampur. After a 12 kms drive from Udhampur is a small village Samroli known for Patissa and Makai roti with makai sout. The most famous shop is Prem Di Hatti. It has become so popular that most of the shops claim to be the original Prem Di Hatti. After enquiring the locals, we managed to spot the real Prem Di Hatti with a red coloured board saying: Estd 1925, founder Pd Lok Nath Khajuria. We tried Patissa, a flaky and crispy sweet made up of gram flour.

And then came my first encounter with nun chai- the salty tea. I tried it with the local delicacy makai sout (roasted corn flour) and makai roti (corn flour flatbread). I will talk about my experience of salty chai in next blog as it is the breakfast tea in Kashmir eaten with lavassa. Here in Samroli, I spotted many locals mixing the sout in the tea and eating it with the spoon. I also tried the local way and had makai roti with nun chai. Indeed, a new experience for me.

After having our evening nun chai, the next stop was Peerah. This was one place recommended by everyone for Rajma Chawal and Dal Chawal. Being a Punjabi, I have grown up eating rajma chawal and let me make a confession that Rajma Chawal is one dish I can eat every day IF it is cooked by mom. Once you reach Peerah, there are shops lined up selling the same dish. What makes it special is first, rajma is locally grown; second, the rajma is cooked over wooden fire that adds a special flavour; third, almost 50 gms of locally made ghee is poured over a plate of rajma chawal and lastly, anar dana chutney made in traditional stone grinder makes it a complete delectable meal to relish. I loved each bite of it.

We crossed India’s longest road tunnel, Chenani-Nashri tunnel, also known as Patni Top tunnel, with a length of 9.28 km on NH 44. It is the first tunnel in the country with a fully integrated tunnel control system. The tunnel reduces the distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 30 km and cuts travel time by two hours.

We stopped midway for a cup of tea in Banihal and finally reached Qazikund at late night. In Qazikund, at a road side eatery, we stopped briefly for dal and roti making our way to Srinagar. It was a bit difficult to find a hotel in the night, but after some struggle we booked a hotel near Lal Chowk and stayed there overnight. Next morning we drove from Srinagar to Gulmarg.

At Tangmarg, Greenz Hotel was a perfect stop for Lunch. As we had pre-planned to have a complete wazwan experience in Jammu, the lunch here was simply of rista with kebabs. The kebabs in Kashmir are not melt in mouth of kind- you can taste the meat. My kind of kebabs as I don’t have much liking for melt-in-mouth of kebabs. The rista are meat balls cooked in red gravy. The meat is handpounded and a right amount of fat is added in to it. In Kashmir, when we say mutton, it is mostly sheep.

 

Dhaniwal Korm

From Tangmarg, Gulmarg is just 12.4 kms. Situated in the Pir Pranjal range in western Himalayas, the drive is beautiful, passing through forests of pine and fir. Gulmarg is also noted for having one of the worlds highest Gondola (cable car). Winter sports are also quite popular in Gulmarg. After quickly taking a walk through the valley, we reached Hotel Nedous for a late lunch. Established in 1888 by Michael Adam Nedou, Hotel Nedou was a popular destination for British aristocrats and colonial government officials. The centre of the restaurant has a fire stove (bukhari) where one can warm up returning from their Gondola ride up in the Himalayas or playing winter sports. It keeps the place cosy for the meals. The food is all cooked fresh and the staff is courteous. Najwa had recommended that we try Daniwal korma, so we just ordered one dish with fresh roti. Daniwal korma is a simple dish cooked in yoghurt with coriander and butter. It was simply a delight to taste each bite of it. 

That’s how we ended our food journey in Gulmarg. In the next blog, I will write about my Srinagar food journey curated by Najwa Andrabi (Instagram- @Kaeshirfoodie)

Until then, eat delicious!

 

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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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.