The city of Gwalior holds a supreme prestige for its wondrous cultural heritage. Undoubtedly it is one of the gems of Madhya Pradesh. The town is eponymously known as Gwalior after the saint Gwalipa, who was able to heal a deadly disease of Suraj Sen, founder of the city. Beside the significant historical legacy, the city also offers eclectic street food options to the locals and visitors. We were in the city to explore its street food tradition through such iconic eateries which rules the heart of the locals with their amazing fares. According to us the best way to do so is to walk down the vibrant and glorious streets of this cultural gem for as you keep walking, you keep exploring. The street food scene here is overflowing with the sight, aroma and taste of kachoris, ladoos, jalebis, bedai, poha, imartis, sev etc. So let’s start with our food trail at Gwalior with our foodie host Shikha who took us to the most famed eateries across the city.
Our first stop was the city’s most favourite ladoo and kachori shop, the Bahadura sweets. Contrary to its majestic sounding name, this place was a small and unassuming eatery situated in a Haveli like structure. Their ladoos are so phenomenal that one of its illustrious patrons was Sri. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, ex Prime Minister of our country. We tried their kachori and ladoo, whose reputation has traveled far and beyond. The Moong dal stuffed kachoris were very impressive but it was the fresh desi ghee ladoos that swooned us with their soft, luscious and moist texture. This place is worth all its reputation.
Next we went to Chote Lal shop that is known for its Bedai and Imartis. Bedai are firm and crisp, Moong dal mixture stuffed puris that is eaten with a spicy potato gravy and chutney. The bedai here like its Agra counterpart was quite appetizing but it was the Imarti that was the star. The distinctly fresh flavour of urad dal that comes through the ghee infused syrup fountain makes it irresistible.
From there we went to Ma Pitambara Poha Centre to savour another staple breakfast dish of this place i.e the Poha. The crowd over there was a tell tale sign of the popularity of this humble flattened rice based dish and the place as well. The inherent lightness that shines through the medley of taste and texture derived from the different elements makes its a go to breakfast delicacy.
After the breakfast tour we reached Dana Oli, a street line with Halwai or sweet shops. This place is the epicenter of fresh savoury and sweet snacks that reaches the locals. Our first destination here was the Gyana Halwai. We had come to try their famous kalakand and hence we were lucky because we got to taste some Mango kalakand from the fresh batch that had just been prepared. It’s easily a must try dessert if you are visiting this place during the mango seasons.
The second destination at Dana Oli was Agarwal sweets where we ate the delightful Sev Boondi and Philori. In case of the former the fresh Sev was the hero. The later one was another popular snacks made from moong dal that was a bit spicy yet tasty.
Next stop was Bansal Petha Bhandar where you will find an eclectic variety of this tasty ash gourd based delicacy. Here we tasted the Paan gilori petha that clearly has a very strong flavour of betel leaves and gulkand. We also visited their factory to learn about the preparation of this very intriguing sweets. The process of making it was really tedious but the end product is amazing.
After gorging on the delectable breakfast delicacies all through the day, it was time to check out the evening time treats on the streets. We arrived at Sai Chaat to have the appetising Choti Kachoris. Essentially it was a mini version of the Moong Dal Kachoris that we have had at Bahadura Sweets. Hot and fresh bite size Kachoris were served with green and sweet chutney. The interesting thing about the eating experience here was the Donna or the leaf bowls in which the Kachoris were served. It tasted much better in those leaf bowls.
Continuing with our sweet overdose we came across Ishwar Kulfi Bandar, a famous Kulfi shop. Its rich Rabri Kulfi flavoured with rose and kewra was refreshingly yummy.
Next was the turn for some playful treats at Sahi Chat bhandar. So we are enormously impressed to try the urad dal golgappa and the exciting karela. The later one is essentially a crisp savoury snacks that resembles the bitter gourd in shape. It is served as a chaat with curd, chutneys and spices. The delicious contrast of taste and texture made it an impressive option that should be explored by every chat enthusiast.
For dinner we went to the Rajasthani Bhojnalaya for having their immensely popular Dal bati churma Thali comprising of Bati, Dal, Gatte ki Sabzi, Kadhi, Potato masala, Churma ladoo and garlic Chutney. The owner was such an amazing host that he himself served us and guided us with the right way to have the delicacy. His warmth and hospitality just took the culinary experience to a different realm.
Our penultimate stop was Baba Gafoor ka Dargah. In the month of July there is a festivity at this holy place and it’s during this time only, that perhaps the country’s largest Balusahi is prepared as an offering to the saint. Each Balusahi was around a kilo in weight. We saw its preparation and also tasted it.
We ended our tour with a tasty Paan from Pardesi Paan Shop. This post meal treat served as a palate cleanser and a digestive stimulant. The food journey at Gwalior was very exciting and we convey our heartfelt thanks to Shikha for assisting us in the exploration.