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The Knighthood of Momos

Everybody loves momos especially good, quality momos. Don’t you just hate biting into a momo that says it’s chicken but you bite into soyabean and it doesn’t taste like chicken at all?
Lodhi Knights is a momo shop serving mouth-watering, Mughlai cuisine inspired momos that taste absolutely divine. All the sought after afghani and Mughlai dishes are encapsulated beautifully into tiny pockets of momos and they take you to heaven.

Lodhi knights is a take away fast food joint with little to no seating arrangements. There are a few tables available where you can put the food and eat, but they’re mostly occupied. They have very recently shifted to a new location in shop number 119, Khanna market, Lodhi road.

Butter Chicken momos
chilly chicken momos

Lodhi Knights serve few of the best tasting momos I have ever had in my life, their menu is elaborate and includes everything from Chicken Shawarma, to KFC style momos, chilly chicken momos to the simple steamed paneer momos, chicken changezi momos to Butter chicken momos. Since momos are one of the dearest street food one enjoys in Delhi, this place is one to try if you love having options. They also serve rolls, main course meals, soups, noodles and chicken and paneer tikkas as few of the starters.

Chicken Shawarma

I very recently had their butter chicken momos, chilly chicken momos, soya malai chaap roll and chicken shawarma. I have also had their chilly paneer momos, chicken and paneer steamed momos, KFC style(kurkure)paneer momos, chicken and paneer tandoori momos among many others that I can’t even recall. Their momos and rolls and shawarmas are all accompanied with mint chutney, mayonnaise and red chilli chutney. Their food is always well seasoned and bursting with flavours.

They are pricier than your roadside momo stalls but Lodhi Knights also serve much more quality products. The sizes of their momos are also larger than the average 50 rupees momos, per plate. Their steamed variants start from rupees 50, the Mughlai momos cost around 150 per plate, the tandoori momos cost an average 100, the rolls range from 80 rupees to 140 rupees.
The new shop is open from 11 am till 11 pm, but unforturnetly their service is not very prompt, and you’ll have to wait a couple of minutes if you order dishes like KFC momos and chilly chicken momos since they make it fresh. Dishes like chicken shawarma , steamed momos and tandoori momos are served within 5 minutes. They earlier even had complaints regarding their timings, as the shop claimed to open at 5 pm but it hardly ever did. But with the new location, that issue has been rectified.
This place is a must try, it takes you on a tasty journey, their food is tasty and the flavours are beautiful. Lodhi Knights is a must for all momo lovers and all Mughlai cuisine enthusiasts, and it’s better if you’re both.

KFC kurkure momos
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Bottle opener- think out of the box bottle

Bottle Opener is a beautiful little beverage shop that recently opened up right outside Jor bagh metro station, gate number 1. Started by a group of friends, Vishal Sethi, Saurabh Kumar and Sonali Paikaray from Air Force School, this entrepreneurial venture serves shakes and ice cream sodas in some really intriguing combination of flavours. In conversation with the friends we actually got to know a lot about them, “We are basically three school buddies & best of friends. We always wanted to do something on our own & something which we enjoy doing and not just for the sake of it. So, our friend and partner Vishal Sethi came up with this idea overnight and the very next day we started working on it & within a month this whole thing was conceptualised and implemented” said the Team of Bottle Opener. Their menu is divided into three categories. The “Killer Shakes” are for 139 rupees, the “Vintage Shakes” for 89 rupees and the “Ice Cream Sodas” for 69 rupees. Their whimsical and curious blend of flavours is their USP, and their menu is attractive to those who like to experiment. But it can also be intimidating for those who have somewhat conservative tastes. For instance, how many of us would ever have thought of putting popcorn and milkshake together? But that’s for later, first let’s discuss the aesthetics.

With its charming and fanciful appearance, the cafe stands out amidst the string of plain old grocery shops in that line. There is also a beautiful graffiti on the side wall that portrays Lord Shiv in a meditative pose. Full of vivid colours and a majestic theme, the graffiti was designed by one of the guys from the group itself and painted by Fitoor art studio. One downside though is that the shop doesn’t have a seating arrangement yet.

The shakes come in transparent glass bottles. They are much more user friendly than plastic glasses as the glass bottles can be sealed with a lid in case you are not able to finish the heavy shakes in one go. And for someone like me who loves getting these cute little bottles for free, it’s a win-win situation.

So, now coming to the main part i.e, the beverages being served. I was with a friend when we discovered the shop. With a lot of curiosity we had the Kokum Refresh and the Pink Guava in addition to the Black Currant Ice Cream Soda. The flavours are extremely unique and I cannot enunciate it enough. The innovative but smartly chosen combinations just blew my mind. For someone who usually only goes with traditional flavours and has very conservative taste buds, I was skeptical to begin with. I couldn’t understand how Kokum would go well with milk but once you have it, the taste somehow grows on you. And for people who love experimenting with tastes and flavours, it is a total paradise. Also, their flavours are very genuine and deliver exactly what they say. For example, if you take the Pink Guava, you get a very genuine taste of guava in the shake.
There are also a few traditional variants on their menu like the oreo cookie crumble, brownie indulgence, mango duet etc. So if you’re not too keen on experimenting, you can always fall back on these classic alternatives.

My friend accompanying me absolutely loved all three flavours right off the bat, while I needed a little more time to understand the flavours. The polarizing character of flavours is quite amusing, and one of the biggest reasons why one should try this place, to know which end of the dichotomy you fall into.

Address- Shop 8, NDMC Market, Jor Bagh

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A burger like no other

Quite close to the hustle bustle of the ever so busy Central Market in Lajpat Nagar, there is a quaint and quiet lane which teleports you straight to Afghanistan and introduces you to the art of Afghan bread-making. Located right across the market road, this lane is known as Afghan street and it’s easy to understand why. Almost all the shops have signboards written in English, but predominantly in Dari. And a lot of those shops are Afghan eateries, some of them restaurants and some street food stalls.

As you walk down the lane, you’re hit with the familiar smell of freshly baked bread and rich butter. For someone like me who loves the aromas of baking, it felt like walking in paradise. At one of the street stalls, you see a vendor serving out an intriguing dish that looks like a curious cross between a burger and a wrap. Below the tiny counter, the signboard said Afghan burger, veg and non veg.

I asked for a veg Afghan burger and Afghan Lassi, but unfortunately they weren’t serving the Lassi. Another vendor at the neighboring stall told us they’ll start serving it after Ramzan. The veg Burger was for ₹50 and the non-veg burger was for ₹ 100. They also had heaps of bread resting on a table, that were coming straight out of the tandoor (clay oven) nearby. The breads smelled divine and they only cost TWENTY rupees. On the table, you will find jars of pickle that looked like large chunks of diced vegetables drenched in vinegar. The pickles looked fresh and cost only 50 bucks. There were also sheermals and Afghan cakes for 100 rupees each.

So now coming to the main attraction of the shop, the Afghan burger is unlike any ‘Burger’ you’ve had before. It’s a thick, large Roti or lavassa bread encasing soft potato fries, perfectly seasoned and garnished with coriander leaves. Then, some kind of red sauce is drizzled on top of the burger, and voila our afghan burger is ready.

The burger tasted fresh and soft, but it was a bit too dry for my taste. The sauce used is made with a blend of tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, red chili and capsicum. And while the sauce adds a bit of zest and tantalizing flavor to the burger, the quantity of the sauce used was somewhat underwhelming for me. I would have preferred more of it.

They put egg in the veg burger so if you don’t eat eggs, you have to let them know while placing the order. You can also see beautifully marinated chicken stocked up to be put in the non-veg burgers, so you should try that too if you eat meat.

One burger is totally sufficient for a single person, as it’s more than a handful. Bring a friend along if you know you can’t finish large sided portions of food, because this one is not for those with little tummies. The burger is extremely fulfilling and scrumptious. You’re guaranteed to go home with your hunger satiated and all that without burning a hole into your pocket.

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Sushis and Dimsums Galore

As the mercury soared in May, and Delhi turned into its annual furnace fest, I found refuge in the light and fresh flavours at YouMee. The restaurant has recently opened in M Block Market at GK-II and offers delicious Japanese and Pan Asian food.

Manga lovers, rejoice. Your prayers have been answered. The restaurant walls are covered with Manga inspired art, geared around food ofcourse. We began the meal with obvious starter choices – sushi and dimsums. The choices of dishes within these categories at YouMee are endless, so do inspect the menu closely, or just come back again for more.

We ordered the Garden Dragon, Spicy Chicken and Prawn Tempura sushis. They were freshly prepared and tasty. The dimsum varieties we had included the Chicken and Water Chestnut Dumpling, Prawn Hargow, Edamame Truffle Oil and Spicy Asparagus with Thai Flavoured Herbs. This was one of my rare trysts with vegetarian dumplings and they surpassed my expectations. I washed my food down with the signature orange and kaffir lime mocktail – Asian Swirl.

By the second half of our meal, the restaurant was abuzz with people enjoying their Saturday afternoon amidst the colourful environs, wafts of barbecued or seared seafood and familiar childhood graphics, far away from the sun. We decided to give the Robata a go. Robatayaki or Robata is a Japanese version of barbecue where small meat portions are slow-grilled to perfection over hot charcoal. The Ebi Maki or Bacon Wrapped Prawns was the perfect choice for us. It came on skewers with a side of Miso soup and sticky rice which complemented the juicy meat beautifully. If nothing else, then you must try this singular dish at YouMee. I wish I had room to score some Ramen Bowls, but alas. I did however have space reserved for dessert, as we all do, and we gulfed down the Matcha Cheesecake and Banana Fritter Sundae, before we called it a day.

GK-II has acquired yet another classic which I am certain will be there in the times to come to offer you and your friends comfort food on many an uncomfortable summer day.

 

Location: M Block Market, GK-II, New Delhi
Meal for Two: Rs. 2,000

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The Nameless shop that serves Dahi ke Sholey

I am sure we’ve all had those days when you’re famished and you feel like you can eat a horse but then you take a look at your wallet and your eyes start brimming with tears because you don’t have a lot of money and you have to go home as well. This happens to me all the time. I am a broke gourmand, a moose cheese lover with the budget of paneer.

For broke days like always, I regularly go to my favourite place in INA market which is the Pandit Ram Sharan Sharma shop to eat their celebrated DAHI KE SHOLEY.

It is a tiny shop in the rear end of the market and they serve mouth watering food items. The simple samosas suddenly taste unlike any other when served with their homemade aalu ki sabzi. You can also choose to have Kachodi with the aalu ki sabzi. They serve bread pakoras too, needless to say with their aalu ki sabzi. You can also find the occasional moong daal ke pakodes but they’re not a regular in their menu. My personal favourites are paneer ke sholey, and Dahi ke sholey. These sholeys are served with an onion salad and dhaniya and imli ki chutney. The sweet and sour taste of the chutney with the crispy outer layer of the sholey, mixed well with the seasoned to perfection dahi mix is absolutely phenomenal. The food is extremely well thought out flavor wise, the burst of tasty goodness in each bite is beautiful.

Pandit Ram Sharan Sharma has been serving these delicious items for more than two decades now and their quality just keeps getting better and better. The service is prompt and speedy, and the man at the counter is very sweet and chatty. He once explained that the coolness of the dahi makes the dish a must have during summers as it cools down the body, it doesn’t contain any unnatural ingredients and is a healthy junk food. One dahi ke sholey only costs 20 rupees and the paneer variant costs 30 rupees. And these are the expensive items from the menu.

Pandit Ram Sharan Sharma is a tiny shop which is not even known by its name. You just know it as the choti dukaan that serves dahi ke sholey. But never ever do you see this tiny shop vacant, because someone or the other is eating at it. It is the exact antithesis of the phrase: unchi dukaan, feekey pakwaan because never ever will you find their pakwaans to be feekey or anything less than sumptuous and delicious. 😛

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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!

 

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Sharma Kachori wale- Age old romance of Aaloo and Kachori

We all have spent our entire childhood listening to the quote ‘Old is Gold’. Having served the numerous generations of Saddi Dilli from decades, this ‘hole in the wall’ street food joint ‘Sharma Kachodi Wale’ is the perfect example for that quote which indeed is very famous for its perfect and  crispy Kachodi (an Indian snack made of maida which is deep fried) along with mouth watering and drool worthy Aaloo curry (potato curry )around the walled city. It lies on the main road towards Shakti Nagar Chowk which is very  near to Kamla Nagar. People gather around like flock of birds to satiate their taste buds with such a legendary serving without even burning a hole in their pocket.

This joint serves five matthi kachodis which are basically kachodis with the stuffing dipped in the ‘perfectly spiced and seasoned’ aaloo curry with a taste which could make every person on this planet drool over. What makes this place even more special is the price at which it offers this delicacy, which indeed is so low that even a broke college student would be able to afford. It offers one serving of the dish at price as low as 20 rupees which is why we can see the people from all the working classes having their bite here.

In this era, where street cuisines have a very tough time competing  among themselves ‘Sharma Kachodi wale’ makes this simplest dish stand out and make the hearts of gourmands melt in satisfaction as they munch in a bite of this simple yet so legendary dish. I have always heard my uncle describe this place as one of his favourite joints to grab a quick snack since his childhood. He always adds the phrase ‘consistent taste’ whenever he describes it , which shows how famous this joint is for its consistency and the legendary taste accompanied by their swift and uninterrupted service despite a large amount of people eager to fill their mouths with the gem which this place offers.

No matter how many new and famous hotspot food joints open with time , ‘Sharma Kachodi wale’ will always be the showstopper whenever our taste buds crave for a light and tantalizing snack.

 

Shop Name : Sharma Kachodi Wale

Address: Main Road towards Shakti Nagar chowk , opposite Kaleva

Phone number: + 918800818189

Owner Name : Vijay Rathore

In a world full of samosas, be a KACHORI and that too if it is from such a legendary joint.
#sharmakacoriwala
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Discovering a happy eatery : Bistro 57

18th July 2017:

Scorching sun, enough to pierce deep through the skin and make a person thirsty in seconds. Also, the college admissions time ; moving to a new city , getting used to new things, staying away from home. I was a new girl in the unknown city who was just done with her college admissions and shifting into a hostel. I still remember my first day here, everything felt so different. I was normally chatting with my roommate about the famous places to visit nearby i.e. Kamla Nagar, New Delhi which led to the discovery of this ‘Happy Eatery’ called Bistro 57.

The name sounded fascinating enough to me, so fascinating that I wanted to go there without even wasting a minute. We were all set, wearing our cool summer clothes, setting the destination as ‘Bistro 57’ on the Google Maps. After a short walk, we entered a small street with a lot of eateries among which ‘Bistro 57’ was one of them. It was a small pop shop with loads of variety , from milkshakes to cold coffee to quick bites like garlic bread and sandwiches. With a question mark on our faces we asked for help from a fellow customer to help us with our order. “What is the best thing that we can have from here? ” we asked, “Bistro has a PhD in all their dishes, nothing will disappoint you here.” he replied with a proud grin on his face.

A wise man once said ‘Classics are always the best’ which indeed made us choose the all time classics i.e. cold coffee and pizza. The swift service was what made us love the place even more despite the swarm of  people mostly, the college going fellows waiting for their pre placed order. The taste of the much needed ‘caffeine’ along with perfectly blended milk and sugar of  right consistency and the drool worthy sizzling pizza with a crispy crust, perfectly baked toppings and loads of cheese was what made our day. To our surprise the bill came out to be so nominal for such a great quantity of food, enough to force us to skip dinner at the hostel.

Today , a year passed and ‘Bistro 57’ still stands untouched at rank ‘one’  on my list of the perfect eateries around Kamla Nagar which has never disappointed me with any of its variety. This rustic yet popular and inexpensive eatery will always remain as the show stopper of our ‘Chatori Lane’.

Shop Name : Bistro 57

Location : Behind McDonald’s  (kamla nagar ) , Jawahar Nagar , New Delhi

Contact number : +91 9560805504

Owner’s name : Sameer Rawat


Sometimes the smallest streets serve the most elite treats. This small gem at Kamla Nagar is a MUST try !
#Bistro57

 

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Chache Di Hatti : A Saviour  from the Mid-lecture Hunger

Did you ever regret skipping breakfast before leaving for college? Ever felt so hungry in between the lectures that your stomach actually sounds like a dying whale? Well , if you are a north campus student at DU and so down with hunger but have nothing more than 50-55 bucks to spare , the mighty chole (chickpea curry) and  bhature ( fluffy deep fried bread made of maida)  comes to your rescue at this small shop at Kamla Nagar called ‘Chache Di Hatti’. It is located at the nukkad of a small street opposite to the keventers .This shop can be a recognized from a certain distance due to the crowd of people waiting in queues to gulp up the drool worthy bhature with some spicy chole and chutney.

Although, you don’t get a huge variety of options at this place which in turn shows the limited options which ‘Chache di Hatti’ is best at. It serves two types of bhature which differ in nothing but the type of stuffing, one is the plain bhatura and other one is the potato stuffed bhatura. According to the owner, this shop is approximately five to six decades old and is carried on by the third generation at present. In its early days, the rates of one serving of chole bhature was as low as 20 rupees and after years passed, the price is still very affordable. When you stand in the queue and look around at the crowd, you will see majority as the college students with backpacks on their back and a proud grin on their face realising how much this place is worth bunking a lecture. There are approximately 6 to 7 staff members standing as the pillars of this most famous joint in the national capital , who are more than swift in taking and preparing orders despite the never ending queue of the crowd.

‘Chache di Hatti’ is at most known for its consistent taste and the  position at which it stands above all peer competitors all around ‘Saddi Dilli’.Some middle aged people standing in the queue can  often be seen looking back to and discussing the good old days and how they used to sneak out of lectures to grab a bite at this joint which is something that tickles nostalgia and gets a smile on their face ,which indeed will continue over generations due to the pride which ‘Chache Di Hatti’ holds due to its consistent and legendary serving of happiness in the form food which makes it so mandatory to visit and become a hardcore fan of.

 

Shop Name : Chache Di Hatti

Address : Kamala Nagar, Opposite lane of Keventers near All Smile dental clinic.

Owner Name : Kamal Kishore

Phone Number :9811389963

 

There isn’t a sadness which cannot be cured by ‘CHOLE BHATURE’ especially when it is served by the most legendary corner of the city.

 

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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!