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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.
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Kerala Food Journey- Kozhikode/Calicut

Kozhikode/Calicut

By Anubhav Sapra

Marco Polo described Calicut as the greatest province in Malabar. Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama first landed on Indian shores in 1498, in Calicut, paving the way for the spice trade between Europe and Malabar. Calicut emerged as the Centre of spice trade, that brought the Arabs, the Portuguese, the English, the Dutch and the French closer to the Indian subcontinent.

Hence, not surprisingly, the food of Calicut is heavily influenced by the Arabs. The intermingling of Arabian food with the local spices and cooking techniques came to be known as Moplah cuisine. Moplahs are the Malayali speaking Muslim community in Malabar.

Hotel Paragon
Paragon fish mango curry

Calicut or Kozhikode is one of the most foodie friendly cities of Kerala. Interestingly, almost all of the food joints are right next to each other and can be easily covered in a day’s time. We stayed there for 24 hours and managed to taste the food at all the iconic places.

The journey started with Hotel Paragon beneath U.H. Flyover on Kannur road. The iconic restaurant is in existence since 1939 with branches in Calicut and Dubai. The restaurant is known for its yummilicious Dum Biryani, Fish Mango Curry and Vellappam. Fun fact, in Malabar region, the quality of rice is completely different compared to other parts on India. They use a special variety of rice called Jeeraksala rice- a small grained rice known for its delicious aroma and taste. The Biryani was lightly flavored, cooked using Jeerakshala. The accompaniments that are served with Biryani are Raita, coconut mint chutney and lemon pickle. There is no concept of salan in Kerala. To our surprise, the fish mango curry was creamish in texture and quite similar to a Delhi styled Butter Chicken gravy. The only addition was the raw mango slices. The smooth creamish fish curry complimented the Vellappam quite well.

Dancing tea/biryani tea
Dancing tea/Biryani chai

Most of the restaurants in Kerala serve tea with all the meals. The tea glasses and the style of making the beverage are uniform all across the state. At hotel Paragon, I tried the ‘dancing tea’ aka biryani tea. The tea was layered in style – tea, with milk and foam on the top. The layers were easily noticeable and the movement of different layers added a twisty surprise to the flavours of the beverage. When stirred with a spoon, it becomes a normal milk chai.

Milk Sharbath shop

Opposite to Hotel Paragon is Kerali Chips Corner, famous for fresh banana chips. The assembly line production and processing of banana chips are interesting to observe. The bananas are peeled – cut into pieces, washed, and fried in coconut oil. The fresh and crispy banana chips are a must-have snack at this place.

Next to Hotel Paragon is Bhaskarettante Kada or milk sharbath shop. This shop, although only half a decade old, is the most popular joint in Kerala. They have a pre mix of sugar syrup and essence of Nadan Nannari plant which is added to milk along with crushed ice. The same syrup is used for making other sharbaths. In lemon soda they also add a tablespoon of mint chutney in the sharbath.

with Mrs Ameera Shafi

As the day wore on, we were fortunate to get a home cooked meal at Mrs Ameera Shafi’s home. A housewife with great interest in cooking, she cooked for us to taste some of the most traditional and authentic dishes of Malabar. At her wonderful home, we got the chance to savour dry Mutta Mala, Pancharpatta, Chicken Stew, Ari Pathiri, Buff Fry and other dishes. But the highlight was Mutta Mala and Pancharpatta; a traditional dessert in Malabar not easily available in the shops and streets. It is said that this dish, entirely made up of eggs, was brought to Malabar by the Portugese. In Portuguese they call it Fios De Ovos. The Malayalee word ‘Mutta’ is used for eggs hence can be called ‘egg garlands’. The egg white and yolk are separated before cooking and boiled in sugar syrup. The other dish, Pancharapatta is different layers of eggs cooked in hot oil, on a slow fire, to be devoured with mashed bananas and powdered sugar. It is rightly said that there is no food close to home cooked food.

Hotel Sagar, Calicut
Hotel Sagar

The next morning we started our food exploration in Calicut with Hotel Sagar located at Mavoor road, near KSRTC bus stand. For brunch, we had Ghee rice with Meen curry. The Meen curry was sour and tangy, flavoured with tamarind. It complemented the ghee flavoured Jeerkasala rice perfectly.

Next we headed to Hotel Rehmath on A.G. Road. Established in 1961, the restaurant was started by Kunjahammad. It is said that Hotel Rehmath was famous for its beef biryani, popular in Calicut. We reached the hotel around 1:00 pm and within few seconds there was a long queue even before the hotel opened its doors for us hungry souls. The restaurant has mutton, chicken, fish and Kada (quail) Biryani. The biryani, prepared with raisins, was a bit greasy compared to other biryani joints we visited in Calicut.

Hotel Rehmath, Calicut
Hotel Rehmath

Located at a walking distance from Hotel Rehmath is SM Street known for Top Form Fish Biryani and numerous Calicut halwa shops. A food pilgrimage to Calicut is incomplete without getting the halwas packed for home. The different flavours of halwa range from a myriad of fruits to a variety of vegetables. Some of the common ones are coconut, banana, jaggery, mango, and tender coconut. The main ingredients of this delicacy are refined flour, sugar and coconut oil. We got our loot for home from Sankaran Bakery, recommended by a fellow foodie friend on Instagram.

Adam Chaikada
Adam Chaikada

Adam Chaikada or Adam’s teashop is a new entrant to the food scenario of Calicut. Hardly a year old, this restaurant has now become a popular eatery in the city. Modeled on a Portuguese heritage property, the place retains its old school architecture. It is no less that any upscale restaurant in any of the big cities in India. The walls are adorned with paintings of localites cooking Malabari delicacies, with a few cooking utensils in display. The menu has been curated keeping in mind the younger generation, adding the perfect twist to the Malabari dishes. They currently serve more than 100 varieties of fried chicken. We tried a small platter and were blown by the creativity of the chef. We also tried a mocktail made up of green mangoes and green chilies. The concoction may give you hiccups but it is really a refreshing drink.

Hotel Zains, Calicut
Hotel Zains

Across the main junction of Adam Chaikada is Zains Hotel known for Malabari snacks. The restaurant is located at Convent Cross Road behind the beach fire station and the bright red colour of the building makes it look like a cottage. The restaurant was started by a lovely lady Zainabi Noor, 30 years back. In Malayali, she beautifully narrated the story of how her restaurant started. She only speaks Malayali, hence one of the servers from UP helped us in the translation. Noor’s husband, from Afghan, was working in Gulf for 15 years. Both of them decided to open up a restaurant in Calicut so that they can stay together. Her exceptional culinary skills helped in curating the menu and training the staff members. The kitchen at the restaurant is clean and well maintained. The walls of the restaurant are decorated with press cuttings and pictures of Noor Mohamads’s sporting days, from when he played Football for Kerala. Some of the Malabari snacks which are difficult to find at other places are available here like, Mutta mala (described above), Unnakaya (mashed boil bananas stuffed with grated coconut, raisins, cardamom), different varieties of stuffed breads known as Pathiri, which could be beef, chicken or fish.

Hotel Bombay, Calicut
Hotel Bombay

The last stop in Calicut was another iconic restaurant established in 1949- Hotel Bombay located at Silk Street, started by Kunjahamad. This two floored restaurant still has an old world charm attached to it. A restaurant synonymous with Moplah biryani and Malabari snacks, people in Calicut still vow to their Biryani. The Biryani that is served with Date-chutney and Raita has a distinctive flavor in comparison to all the other places we tried. Tasting a bit artificial, this one didn’t please our palette as much as we would have hoped.

Some of the Malabar snacks on offer at Hotel Bombay are Kozhi Porichathu, Mutton Cutlet, Elanchi, Unnakaya and cakes. One of the most revered dishes here is the Ela ada. The main ingredients of Ela ada are rice powder, jaggery and coconut. With no usage of oil, the mixture is then wrapped in a banana leaf or plantain, and steamed. This is another place where one can try the Biryani tea. As it takes lot of time to make biryani tea, they only serve it before 3 pm and after 8 pm. Another kind of tea popular in Malabar region is Sulaimani chai- a black tea preparation with cardamom, ginger and lemon.

Of all the cities we have been to in Kerala, this was one city that had a long affair with its Biryani. All the restaurants have their specialty as Biryani – be it hotel Rehmath, Zains, Paragon, Bombay or Top form. In fact, it was more of a kind of Biryani trail for us; our favorite being the Hotel Paragon. The lightly flavoured, non greasy Biryani served with Raita and chutney was delectable. Calicut is, and should be rightly called as the food city of Malabar.

   

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 Kerala Food Journey- Alleppey

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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