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VRINDAVAN FOOD TOUR

 

Located just 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) from Mathura, Vrindavan is a sacred town full of innumerable temples with intricate architecture and carvings. As per the Hindu mythology, this was where Lord Krishna spent his childhood years and also showcased his divine love for Radha. Numerous devotees from all across the country and beyond come here to seek divine blessings. Despite the hustle and bustle all around, you can’t escape the peace and sanctity of this heritage place.

Apart from the religious association, Vrindavan also boasts of a quintessential food culture, dominated by milk based delicacies, that has been moulded by the spiritual connection. The traditional fare on the streets and at household are mostly Sattvik food. The street food scene prevalent here is still shielded away from the impact of the growing fast food culture.  In this blog we bring you a soulful street food escapades from Vrindavan that was mostly centered around the bustling lanes of Sri Banke Bihari Mandir.

Urad Dal Kachoris from Agarwal Mithai Wala

 

Just like the locals, we started our food trail with a traditional breakfast at Agarwal Mithai Bhandar. After having the Gujrati dhokla from the counter outside the shop we quickly moved inside to relish delightful spread of Urad Dal Kachoris, potato and pumpkin sabzis and fresh curd. This humble spread was all prepared in pure desi ghee and had no onion and garlic in it. There is something very enriching about such food that makes us feel more wholesome, calm and joyous. One interesting thing about this eatery is that, if you like the food then you can ring the bell placed outside the shop to announce it.

Khurchan Malai from Radhe Radhe Pede Wala

 

After the cheerful start our second stop was Radhe Radhe Pede Wala, a very old establishment in the city whose sweets are a craze with all sweet lovers. We couldn’t help prevent us from drooling over the eclectic spread of sweets over here. According to the owner who was a genial fellow, the shop still stocks some very traditional sweets that are very popular with the locals and visitors. One of them is the Peda. Though it appears to be a humble sweet but the process of making it is quite tedious. Milk is simmered for a long time till the moisture evaporates and the residue attains a dough like consistency. It is then mixed with sugar and cardamom powder and tiny balls are rolled out of it. These fellows have mastered the art. We also loved their Khurchan Malai which is a well cooked sweetened Malai or cream. Scooping it out of the tiny and adorable earthen pots was so much fun. We highly recommend this toothsome dessert. Their Moong Dal Burfi was soft, pleasant, greasy and delicious.

While visiting the city be very careful about the impish monkeys whose menace is simply unpredictable. They are notorious for snatching away your belongings. So be very careful about your wallets, spectacles, mobile phones etc. The astonishing thing is they mostly return your things in lieu of any food especially mango drink. But it does cause damage to your belongings and you as well. 

Kanji Vada from Manish Cheela Shop

 

After those irresistible sweets we arrived at Manish Cheela Shop for their Kanji Vadas and Cheela. We were tempted to try them both as they appeared super appetising. The former was a light and refreshing snacks comprising of small deep fried moong dal dumplings soaked in mustard powdered flavoured fermented water. A delicacy essentially from Rajasthan and Gujarat, the Kanji vada is preferred for its excellent digestive and detoxifying qualities. The latter one was a zesty Cheela or stuffed moong dal crepes. Cheela is a popular snack from UP and this one from Manish’s shop was filling and flavourful.

 

Satvik Thali from Jaipuria Bhojanalay.

 

For lunch we went to Jaipuria Bhojanalay to try their unlimited Satvik thali that is very popular with the visitors. It was an eclectic spread of roti, rice, dal, bottle gourd curry, kadhi, chutney. Everything was prepared on the woodfire oven sans onion and garlic. It was light, wholesome and tasty. Even though it is an unlimited thali but there is one catch, that is you can’t share it with anyone else. Check out this place for a proper lunch or dinner option.

 

Aloo tikki from Mukesh Chaat Wala

 

Like all other parts of UP, Vrindavan too is also famous for some amazing chats. And so we couldn’t resist ourselves from trying a serving of Aloo tikki chat. It was truly satisfying. The melange of flavours and textures made it endearing.

Next was the turn of paan from Ashoke Paan, a local favourite. Being a Paan aficionado we can easily vouch for the brilliance of the simple betel quid that Ashoke ji modestly handed to us.

Rabri Chuski

 

With our palette cleansed and our appetite restored we stopped by a random cart selling something very interesting. It was the Rabri Chuski, an innovative take on Rabri. This would remind you of gola or crushed ice pops. Essentially it was a yummy rabri served on a bed of crushed ice. 

While ambling down the street full of enthusiastic visitors, we spotted a young boy selling Golgappas with differently flavoured water. The flavoured water with different condiments like hing, harad etc was lip smacking. Do make an effort to trace him down and binge on his zesty golgappas. 

Kesar Gulab Lassi

 

Our final stop in this gratifying food exploration in the holy backdrop of Banke Bihari Mandir and its adjoining areas was Brij bihari lassi shop. The kesar gulab lassi was served in an earthen glass as delicious and refreshing as it could be. 

 

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INDORE FOOD WALK PART I

 

Indore is a city that prides itself for food. It’s a paradise for every food enthusiast. The street food here is heavily influenced by the neighbouring states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The diverse street food culture here is a testimony of the food crazy locals and also the Indori ingenuity that is visible in the quintessential dishes found here. In this episode we bring you some of the wide variety of must try delicacies from different pockets of the city. 

Head sahab ke pohe

 

Our first stop was Head Sahab ke Pohe, where we tried a very interesting breakfast dish called the Usal Poha. It was basically Poha served with a spicy Chole and other accompaniments the most important of which was the Sev. It was quite spicy yet zesty. Even in the rainy weather a crowd had thronged the place to enjoy a plateful. The name of this eatery was quite intriguing hence when we inquired about the idea behind it, we got to know that it was established by a who was so fond of feeding feeding that he left his job as that of a head constable and started this eatery. 

Fresh Rasgulles from Rasgulla House

 

The second stop was Rasgulla House. This place is enormously famous in the whole of Indore for the most softest and yummiest rasgullas. It is run by an enthusiastic and agile granny who proudly showed us the process of making rasgulla. Watching the tiny cottage cheese balls puffing up into spongy and bouncy delectable spheres was a thing of joy. The endearing and zealous grandmother dexterously manages this family business that she has become an indisputable authority in this art. The rasgullas were so yummy and irresistible that I had to stop myself at 4 only because we had the whole food trail to complete. 

Dahi poori from Ghanshyam Chaat.

After this we headed to Ghanshyam Chaat House to gorge on some big sized Gol Gappas. The ones that you get here are bigger than the cavity size of your mouth and stuffing inside along with the spiced water makes it more difficult to handle. But the public is crazy about this as it is tasty and fun to negotiate the size and devour it. The Masala and the water was perfectly zesty. We also tried the Dahi Puchka which was a fountain of flavours. Eating it is a renders you speechless as there is no space left in the cavity to make sounds. 

From there we headed on to try the unique Bhutte ke laddos or corn ladoos from Sharma Ji’s cart. Made from dried and desiccated fresh corn paste, this sweetmeat is both delicious and filling. Due to the proper toasting of the cornmeal, it has attained a grainy texture. Taste wise it resembled the besan ke ladoo. It’s a seasonal fare that one must try. 

After popping the Laddo we went to Sindh Bakery, a very special bakery run by gentleman who is immensely fond of old Bollywood classics and the stalwarts who sang them. We were glad to meet this keen music lover who perhaps makes the best bakery items in the city. The ingredients and fresh and the process of making them is very much traditional and old fashioned. But the byproduct s are unparalleled. We loved their rusk and baked samosas. The samosas were different from the regular ones. They were more like puff pastries. Do pay a visit to his place for the irresistible sight and aroma of assorted cookies, biscuits, puffs etc, old music and endearing company and stories.

Next stop in the city was Sri krishna Gujrati Kadhi and Fafda, a shop famous for Gujrati Fafda and Kadhi. This gram flour based delicacy is a very popular snack that the Gujarati’s relish with mostly jalebis. But here they served it with a sweet and savoury kadhi. The combination was decent although among the two we liked  fafda the most. 

Soon it was the turn of some luscious kaju shake. It was a simple yet divine concoction of milk, cashew paste and sugar. The most unique and amazing thing about this place and their drinks is that all the ingredients are served through a cloth into a container from where it was poured into the glass. It’s a must try place for thandais.

From there we went to another popular spot, the lal balti kachori shop. The moniker is derived from the red coloured Balti with a bulb inside it, that is hung outside the shop. The lighted bulb signifies the availability of the kachoris and vice versa. The potato stuffed kachoris were quite decent but what made them special and delicious was a super spicy chilli chutney coriander chutney.

Next was the turn of a veg hot dog from Lala Chat Bhandar. Its very popular with the locals. The crisp pan fried buns smeared with chutney and stuffed with chole, paneer slices, potato patty, onions sev etc was zesty and very appetising. 

Our final stop for the day was the iconic Lakshinanayan Doodhwala. This place is hugely popular for their flavoured milk. Apart from the hot luscious milk drink, another noteworthy thing about this place is the humongous Kadhai or pan in which the milk is boiled. It is deemed as the largest pan in the whole state. The milk keeps boiling for several hours as a result of which a thick cream settles over it. 

With this we wrapped up our first day at Indore. Apart from being the food capital of Central India, this place is full of warm, friendly and cheerful locals. Another noteworthy thing about the place is that, the steer food scene here is mostly very clean and hygienic. Indore has been officially deemed  as the cleanest city of the country. That’s another very cogent reason to join the gastronomic bandwagon here.