During the Bihar Food Trail, our love for sweets led us to go on an impromptu Mithai trail, as we travel to Gaya from Patna in search of food. The mithais available in this stretch were not of any luxuriant kind but are were simple and humble stuff. There were four destinations where we had stopped by to see the mithais being made and try them. This included the towns of Fatua, Dhanarua, Nishalganj and Silao. Let’s see what all did we try and what’s so unique about them.
While driving down the National Highway, the first place that we halted at was a crowded tea stall under the four lane flyover in Fatua called Neha Tea Stall. Our intention was to replenish the spirit with an energizing cup of tea because it had been a while since we have been driving. Interestingly it was not just the usual milky tea but matke wali chai or tea made in a clay pot. The earthy notes from the clay pot lent a unique taste to this well brewed tea. Speaking to the locals we came to know about this sweet from Fatua called mirjai. After gulping down two cups each of this matka wali tea, along with equally yummy peanut encrusted cookies we set out in search of mirjai.
A short drive led us to Maharani Chowk in Fatuha. Mirjai is the popular sweet in this region. It is a deep fried sweet snack made from maida, jaggery or sugar and shortening. This disc shaped snack had a firm yet crumbly texture and was fun to have. After a quick chat with the owners of Amit mirjai shop, we headed to our next destination Danarua that is famous for Lai Ke Ladoo.
A 32 km drive led us to Om Sai Baba Lai Bhandar in Dhanarua that is perhaps the most renowned shop among the numerous lai shops over here. We were lucky to arrive there right at the time when a fresh batch of lai ke ladoos were going to be made. Made with Khoya, sugar and a unique ingredient called khobi dana which was very similar or perhaps is the amaranth seeds, these sweets are light and delicious. The khoya used in it is prepared in the shop itself. A balanced use of cardamom powder also enhanced its deliciousness. They were so good that we got some packed for later consumption.
Our next destination was this small town called Nischalganj where pedas are a popular thing. The main road in this area is lined with numerous shops selling this traditional sweet made of khoya and sugar. To find out what was so unique about the pedas available over here, we checked into Shiv Shankar Ji shop. At one corner the khoya was being cooked and at the front part fresh balls of pedas were being rolled out from a freshly prepared khoya based dough. The soft, dense and delicate pedas were yummy indeed.
From there we resumed our journey for Silao, a town famous for the sweet treat called khaja. This classic stuff, that Silao is renowned for is a super delicate, multi layered deep fried puff pastry. This place too is lined up with khaja stores but the most famous one is the old Kali Shah Khaja Shop. The moreish and delicate taste and texture of these khaja are attributed to the air and water of this area. Due to its quintessential fame, it has received the GI tag as well. Silao ka khaja is a must try if you are en route to Gaya.
As we headed to Gaya in search of its popular flavours, we felt enriched and delighted to learn about the unique sweets available across this region. We will see you soon in the next story. Till then keep walking and keep exploring.