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BHOPAL VEG FOOD TOUR

This week we bring you the delightful culinary explorations from the bustling capital city of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal. Also known as the city of lakes this place is renowned for its  beautiful lakes, architecture, lovely people and great food. It is undoubtedly the treasure trove for street food lovers who love snacks. Located in the Malwa plateau, the food is greatly influenced by Rajasthan on the account of the similar geographical region. We are here to explore the popular street food of the city that thrives on tea, Poha Jalebi and group conversations.

For the first half of the tour we were explored the food scenario on our own while for the other half we were joined by our sprightly host Aditya Kulshrestha who is a radio jockey with a popular radio station and a resident of this place. He was super excited to take us around some of the popular eateries at 6 No Hawkers’ Corner in the city.

Raju Tea Stall, Bhopal.

 

So our first stop for the day was Raju Tea stall the iconic snacks and tea point whose reputation is phenomenal. Here we tried two of their hot selling items i.e. the tea and the Mangodi or the Moong Dal fritters. The tea -milky, perfectly brewed and optimally sweet-was just outstanding. The fresh, hot and crisp Mangodas were quite flavourful and they made a pair with the most endeared beverage. Tea in Bhopal is such an indispensable thing that its jokingly said that its not blood but tea that flows through the blood vessels of its residents. This shop has earned a place in the hearts of the locals and celebrities as well. Apart from the food and cheerful ambience, another treat that left us amazed was Faiz Bhai’s unbelievable skill of preparing and serving the special tea that he has mastered with such a practiced ease.

Poha Jalebi

 

Next we went to Kalyan Singh Swad Bhandar to eat the most popular breakfast dish of Bhopal, the Poha and Jalebi. It’s so ubiquitous that it has become the representative delicacy of this city. The soft, fluffy and mildly spiced Pohas are effortlessly contrasted by the crisp and syrupy Jalebis. This humble dish that rules the heart of the locals from all walks of life is a must try.

Dahi Phulki from Sharma Chat, Bhopal.

After this we went to Sharma Chaat Shop for some delicious chaats. We loved their Dahi Phulki and Chole Tikiya, that were prepared using inhouse ingredients like the green and sweet chutney, fresh curd, masalas. No wonder it enhanced the yumminess of these fun treats.

Next while ambling down the streets we came across a cart selling Charoli and Khirni. These two wild berries consumed locally, are available for only a short span during summertime. They are found in the central part of India.

From there we went to Ma Narmada Falhari Shop, a popular stop for the locals for Sabudana or Sago based delicacies. Its Dahi Kichdi and Sabudana Vada was quite impressive as a snacking option.

Then we went to the famous sweetmeat shop named Burfi House to try their Rabri, Badam cake and Kheer Puri. The sweets were fresh and toothsome.

Next stop was the New Gujarat Cold Drinks. Here we tried the Badam(Almond) and Mango shakes which were refreshingly luscious. Our favourite was the thick and fresh mango shake.

Bhopali Paan.

 

Next was the turn of the quintessential Bhopali Paan from the famous Paan shop Zaika Paan. It was a perfect treat that prepared our palette for more food.

Dal Bafla.

 

After the Paan treat we reached the 6 no Hawkers’ Corner where we were joined by our host RJ Aditya who walked us around and helped us savour some scrumptious local flavours. Here we tasted the iconic Dal Bafla, Jalebi and Mangodi and Mava Bati. Of all these the Dal Bafla was the best. It is a delectable and nutritious traditional delicacy from Malwa. However, unlike Rajasthan’s fried Baatis, the Bafla is boiled in water, traditionally roasted over dung cake-fires and dunked in ghee. It is served as part of a set meal with Dal, Kadhi, Baigan Ka Bharta and Laddoos.

Our penultimate shop was Sagar Gaire a name that is familiar to all. Its Veg Biryani was flavoursome and appetising. This fast growing fast food chain in Bhopal has an interesting success story. It tale begins in the late 1990s when a modest yet passionate man named Sh. Dolraj Gaire started his venture by selling soup on the roadside. Back then he was known as Cycle Soupwala Presently, it is the city’s favorite spot for delicious and affordable food. Starting from mini meals and Chinese fast food, pastas, sandwiches, cold coffee and burgers, this place has got it all.

 

We ended our veg food trail with a special tandoori chai topped with chocolate sauce. The experience was quite amazing and it left our taste buds craving for more. We thank our genial host Aditya for his support and enthusiasm.

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Jalori Village Food Tour: 24 hours with a local Himachali Family.

In our remarkable journey across the captivating landscapes of Himachal Pradesh, we were fortunate enough to discover the beautiful village named Jalori situated in the Kullu district. Here we were visiting our gracious host Sanjay ji and his lovely family at their home stay namely the Apple Village Homestay, where we were spending the day.

This place is famous for its lush green rugged terrain dotted with fruit orchards, especially apples and dense pine tree stretches. After a long drive through the winding highway, we were now up for some thrill so we tried offroading. The drive through these less frequented uneven mountain trails was bumpy yet fun.

Next was the turn to scramble up the green trails of the elevated landscape. Sanjay ji lead us through bushy pathways up to his apple orchards that surrounded his home, which doubles up as a lovely homestay for discerning travelers. We were glad to witness such a bounty of organically grown apples all around us. We were also inspired to discover how ecologically aware people like Sanjay are growing apples and other fruits sustainably without the use of harsh fertilizers and sprays. This is a laudable effort in times when the world is slowly waking up to the harmful effects of fertilizers.

On reaching our destination, we were warmly received by his genial and enthusiastic family. We were excited to spend the day exploring the native food traditions with them. We started this culinary sojourn overseeing the meal preparations at the kitchen. Some local delicacies were being prepared by Sanjay ji’s mother and wife. The feast included Siddu, Indra, Sigdu, Vada, Rajma, Lingad ki Sabzi, labode ki chutney and steamed local rice named Nawari Nut. Of these, we were truly impressed by the Siddu, the Rajma which was just scrumptious and Indra or steamed horse gram pulse cake. Siddu is a staple delicacy of this region that is best relished with ghee.

 

 

As we sat down to eat, Sanjay ji and rest of the family members eagerly introduced us to each and every dish and its components. Knowing about the ingredients, in a little more depth, enhanced the whole eating experience. Not only were we contented and grateful for the delicious meal but could clearly feel the distinct bliss of eating naturally grown local produce. No wonder, the health benefits derived from these cogent food traditions intrinsic to the local communities makes them stay rooted to such wisdom.

After the food we went for a stroll across the property and landed up at a mud house or old structures built of natural stuffs like wood, mud etc. Such structure were common in this area though they were largely used by earlier generation. The interiors of these indigenous rooms stayed warm in winter and cool in summer.

 

 

In the evening we tried the Namkeen Chai prepared by Sanjay’s mother. It’s essentially a health giving beverage that is prepared by boiling pieces of bark from a local tree along with milk, carom seeds, butter and salt. There was no tea leaves in it. The next morning we had a comforting breakfast of fresh Rotis with Atte ka Halwa. This humble yet surreal breakfast was no less than a magical outcome of the convergence of fresh and natural ingredients, masterly hands and keen awareness of traditional wisdom about food. For the first time we had a Halwa that was tempered with carom seeds that was used to make it easily digestible.

 

Soon it was time to bid adieu to the gracious family whose simplicity, enthusiasm, hospitality and warmth will always be etched in our memories. We bid them goodbye with the silent promise to be back again. Heartfelt gratitude to Sanjay for such wonderful hospitality.

 

 

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Angooor, Fine Dining- Punjabi Bagh

With a lot of cafes and eating joints in West Delhi, new entrant Angooor on Punjabi Bagh, Club road is a visual treat with beautiful decor and offers some decent food to indulge in.

   

It has three seating sections one on the inside with the bar, the other just attached to it and the last in the open making it a spacious place. The outdoor seating is dreamy and makes it an outstanding place for dining with greenery all around and white pebble flooring. In terms of hospitality, the staff is polite and attends to you well be it giving suggestions or handling complaints.

We ordered a few dishes and tried the Black olive chicken and Crispy chilly potatoes for starters. The Black Olive Chicken turned out to be our favourite as it had strong flavour of olives. The chicken was juicy and tender making it a perfect starter for every olive and chicken lover. We relished it and with every bite we wanted to eat more. Now coming to the chilly potatoes, they were crispy and had a very well-balanced flavour. For the main course we went in for AOP Penne Pasta which was made in olive oil. It had lots of sundried tomatoes and small chunks of garlic. If you are bored of eating the regular white sauce or red sauce pasta then we surely recommend this! Last but not the least, we had to end our meal on a sweet note and so we ordered Motichoor Rabri Parfait- a fusion dessert. It was more like crumbled Motichoor Ladoo with Rabri topped with a lot of dry fruits.

Black olive chicken with dip
AOP Penne Pasta
Motichoor Rabri Parfait

If you are looking out for a new place to hangout with good ambience, nice food, foot tapping music then do give Angooor a try! Continue reading Angooor, Fine Dining- Punjabi Bagh

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A DAY OUT IN FAGU, SHIMLA

 

 

Fagu, a picturesque village in the district of Shimla is a perfect getaway for the nature lovers who enjoy verdant and misty hills, uneven valleys and tranquil views. This little gem instantly attracts you to its lap. We were visiting this stunning village for a day and were eager to explore the culture and food here. At Fagu we had stay put at this beautiful camp called Camp Nomad. The team at here was all set to give us a taste of the authentic local experience through different activities. So it’s here at the we got to taste the authentic local spread prepared by this amazing lady Yogi ji and her enthusiastic team. So come and join us for this cultural and culinary joyride at Fagu.

Before sitting down to eat the elaborate lunch we went to the kitchen space to oversee the local meal preparation. It was a totally busy work space. Here we spoke to the chefs from the village who were supervising the whole process. They told us about the different traditional delicacies with great eagerness.

Then it was time to check out the preparation of some of the dishes from the menu. First was the Siddu the quintessential bread from Himachal Pradesh. This traditional stuffed bread with sweet or savoury stuffings is made from leavened whole wheat flour dough. Yogi ji informed us that traditionally, in the making of Siddu, a small portion of 2 to 3 days old fermented dough was used. This helped in the fermentation of the dough-a very essential step. But now a days they use yeast for the process. These dough balls were steamed in a steamer. They are either eaten with ghee or with different curries and dal. One thing that we tried for the first time was the Bhang ke pakode had a distinctive flavour to it.

A scrumptious spread of local delicacies.

 

At lunchtime we all came together to eat the scrumptious meal prepared by Yogi ji and team. It included Rajma ki Sabzi, Meethi dal, Kadhi pakode, Lushke, Bhang ke pakode, sepu vadi, channe ka khatta, siddu etc. After that hearty meal we all gathered for Nati-Himachali folk Dance- dance performance with all the visitors and the locals who were present at the camp. It was a joyous experience to match steps to the melodious rendition of a local song.

After all the fun activities, we went out to explore the hamlet with our vivacious host Yogi ji. First we went to Desu Mata temple where we spent some time with the genial head priest and learnt about the history of the temple. From there we went to meet the legendary mountaineer and technical advisor, Sri Baldev ji who have scaled the Everest and had assisted many expeditions.

After exploring the neighbourhood of Fagu with Yogi ji, we returned to the camp and got ready for the dinner. Yogi ji whipped up a simple local meal of Lushke and Lingdu, a side dish made with Fiddlehead greens. After the elaborate lunch this humble dinner was truly satisfying.

We are truly grateful to all our amazing hosts- Savitoj, Yogi Ji and the team at Camp Nomad for such a wonderful experience at Fagu.

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BEST PLACES TO EAT IN SHIMLA

From Kasauli we drove to Shimla in search of local and popular delicacies. This picture perfect hill station fascinates each and every visitor with its terrific outdoors and unique charm interspersed with elements from colonial times. The capital city is always buzzing with tourists as here, one finds, panoramic views of the snow clad Himalayas, tiny paths along the pine forests, Elizabethan-style architecture and a delectable food culture, all of which together make it resemble a dreamy settings. 

 

The only and the best way to explore the central part of the city is by walking through the winding paths and stairs leading uphill and downhill. In this delightful gastronomic journey across this pretty town, we were joined by our awesome host Savitoj who walked us through the food scene enthralling us with historical references and tales.

 

Our first stop was the Indian Coffee House whose old world charm takes you back in time and gives you a taste of a bygone era. Here we tried the coffee, jam toast and Sambar Vada. The food and beverage both were decent but it was the ambience that made it special.

 

Next we tried an amazing hot Gulab Jamun from the iconic snack shop Baljees, a local favourite stop for quick snacks. After this we went to Sharma Chaat to taste their unique Parati Kulcha. This spicy and savoury dish is a must try delicacy in Shimla. 

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During our food explorations at Shimla we tried a local favourite Punjabi delicacy called the Parati Kulcha or Bheega Kulcha from Sharma Chat. It is essentially Kulcha soaked in a spicy but yummy Chana gravy and topped with curd, onions, chutney and fried potato chunks. The Kulcha was soft and juicy as it had soaked up the flavoursome gravy. As we put a spoonful into our mouth, we couldn't help but wonder at the surreal experience of the Kulcha melting away instantly, making way for all other elements in the dish. A must try things in Shimla if you love spicy and savoury stuffs that has a playful attraction to it. #himachalfoodseriesbydfw #himchalpradesh #himachalfoodseries #himachalpradeshtourism #walkwithdelhifoodwalks #walkwithanubhav #paratikulcha #shimla #shimlastreets #bheegakulcha #kulcha

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From there we went to Vijay Sweets to have tea along with some of their very famous tea time snacks. The assortment of sweet and savoury snacks was quite interesting, especially the Toshe. 

 

Then we tried the Spoonie from the renowned Trishool Bakery. The place was full of fresh bakery products and eager customers. At last we went on to try the traditional feast from Himachal Pradesh known as the Dham, that is served at all special functions. It’s was a hearty and nutritious platter consisting of the choicest delicacies from across the state. We tried the Madiyali Dham-native to the Mandi district- at a restaurant named Himachali Rasoi. It was indeed a scrumptious spread whose star dish was the Rajma Ka Madra.

 

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Dham refers to the traditional vegetarian feast in Himachal Pradesh, that's prepared during marriages, local festivals, and special occasions. It is a nutritious meal that is backed by the principles of Ayurveda. The native dishes include Rajma Madra, Kadhi, Khatta, sepu badi and so forth. The Dham manifests the treasure trove of food heritage in the state. It also brings the whole community closer as people sit down together to enjoy the elaborate meal. Dham differs from region to region and so you have the Kangra dham, Mandi or Mandyali Dham, Chamba Dham etc. where the ingredients and the dishes also vary from each other. In the picture we have the Mandiyali Dham that we tried at Himachal Rasoi in Shimla. It was simple, balanced and truly delicious. The star of the platter was the rich and robust Rajma ka Madra. It's a must try thing in Himachal Pradesh. #foodie #instafood #foodphotography #photooftheday #travelpic #exploringfood #himachalfoodseriesbydfw #himchalpradesh #himachalfoodseries #himachalpradeshtourism #walkwithdelhifoodwalks #walkwithanubhav #shimla #shimlastreets #himachalidham #shimladiaries

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After exploring the local food scene at The Mall Road and the Middle bazaar, we descended to the Lower bazaar to try some of the popular local delicacies. With crowded lanes lined with shops selling everything from wooden items, winter clothes to mobile phones and vegetables, this buzzing marketplace, is the main shopping destination for the visitors, locals and villagers.

 

Here at Lower Bazaar, one can buy affordable and inexpensive daily products for it was meant to cater to the needs of the common public. It also has a delightful vegetable market full of fresh fruits and veggies. The street food culture here is a mix of traditional delicacies and popular fast food influences. 

 

We began our journey from the sabzi mandi or the vegetable market. The crowded narrow lanes were lined with shops selling fragrant fruits and fresh vegetables. Here we spotted the lingdu or the Fiddlehead greens, a quintessentially local vegetable-essentially a fern- that is commonly consumed in this region.

 

We then arrived at the 117 years old sweet shop Meher Chand and Bros which is still one of the most sought after sweet shops in Shimla. Here we tried three different sweetmeats- cream chocolate(milk burfi with no trace of chocolate), panjiri ladoo and meshu-that were pretty good. We also picked up some historical anecdotes about the place from the owner.

 

After the pure ghee stuff it was time to savour some lip smacking pickles and preserves from another legendary place known as Thakur Bhrata. This shop too is nearly a decade old establishment that is coveted for its traditionally prepared pickles and sweet preserves made with good quality ingredients. We tried four things of which the Amla and Gajar ka Murabba were simple yet phenomenal.

 

From there we went to our next stop Drigen Chinese Fast Food Corner, an inconspicuous veg eatery that is immensely popular with the young crowd here. We had delicious momos and an interesting go to snacks called Kurkej which was essentially super tasty fried veggie sticks. 

 

Next was the turn of veg hotdog from a small roadside stall. It was the yummy chutney and the well made potato patties that made it a tasty treat.

 

Our final stop of our culinary sojourn in and around  Lower Bazaar was the Kamala Nehru Hospital premises. We were there to experience and support the exceptional langar service run by the charitable organisation Almighty Blessings. They serve free meals in the evening to all visitors. Savitoj informed us how the local communities like schools, restaurants etc contribute effectively in the functioning of this heartwarming initiative. We also visited the kitchen, took part in the service and at the end relish the simple meal of rice, dal and roti. Its was a surreal feeling to learn about this selfless endeavours of kindness and compassion. The food was superlative as it was served with such love and care.

 

In the last leg of our Shimla Food Tour we were out to explore few more popular and toothsome options both on the streets and at few sought after places. 

 

We started with a visit to a very special cafe called the Book Cafe which was nestled amidst the tranquil, cosy and picturesque backdrop of huge trees and misty mountains. Conceptualized by the Himachal Pradesh prison department, this cafe cum library is run by inmates of the Kaithu Jail, Shimla who are serving their life sentences. It is an ideal destination for all visitors who love to spend time with books in the lap of nature while sipping coffee or eating the bakery fares prepared and served by the friendly and efficient inmates. You might also engage in a conversation with them and discover more about their lives and experiences.

 

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On the concluding day of our Shimla food trail, we visited a very special cafe called the Book Cafe which was nestled amidst the tranquil, cosy and picturesque backdrop of huge trees and misty mountains. Conceptualised by the Himachal Pradesh prison department, this cafe cum library is run by inmates of the Kaithu Jail, Shimla who are serving their life sentence. It is an ideal destination for all visitors who love to spend time with books in the lap of nature while sipping coffee or eating the bakery fares prepared and served by the friendly inmates. Do make time to visit this place in order to learn and support this innovative rehabilitation programme for convicts, that intends to provide livelihood options to the inmates who have maintained a remarkable conduct in a stipulated span of their sentence. The staff here is very cordial and efficient. You might also engage in a conversation with them and discover more about their lives and experiences. #foodie #instafood #foodphotography #photooftheday #travelpic #exploringfood #himachalfoodseriesbydfw #himchalpradesh #himachalfoodseries #himachalpradeshtourism #walkwithdelhifoodwalks #walkwithanubhav #shimla #shimlastreets #bookcafeshimla

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Do make time to visit this place in order to learn more  and support this innovative rehabilitation programme for convicts, that intends to provide livelihood options to the inmates who have maintained a remarkable conduct in a stipulated span of their sentence. 

 

From there we reached the most popular ice cream joint in the town, The Embassy Ice cream. Savitoj introduced us to this place whose chocobars and mango duds were the best chilled treats that he has grown up eating. The raspberry ice cream comprising of a smooth vanilla ice cream base topped with raspberry crush was yummy and delightful.

 

Next we walked up to a person selling fried peanuts and chana right under the cool shade of a huge tree. We were surprised to know that he has been selling this playful snack in paper cones for the past 43 years. As we gleefully munched on the crispy, crunchy and spice mixed peanuts right out of the paper cones, Savitoj shared his memories of getting them just for rupees two while returning home from school. 

 

After the nostalgic treat and pleasant interaction with a lively little girl occupied with her bubble making toy, Savitoj took us to Sita Ram and Sons, one of the most iconic eateries in Shimla, whose Lucchi Chana is hugely popular with visitors and locals alike. The plateful of thin yet spongy Lucchi or Bhatura and a distinctly flavourful chana topped with chutney was indeed delicious. No wonder it’s a place that you must definitely try in Shimla.

 

Next was the turn of the Cheese Kulcha. We quite liked this cheesy twist to the popular chana kulcha where the bun like kulcha was stuffed with cheese slice and chana mixture and topped with mayo. It’s an easy to grab stuff to check the hunger pangs while walking.

 

The next destination that Savitoj fondly took us to for a unique fusion experience was an unassuming yet popular joint serving the Chinese Paratha. This deep fried paratha, somewhat resembling a pie in appearance and fried momo in taste, was stuffed with a delicious momo fillings and noodles. It was crisp from outside and soft inside. 

 

Our penultimate destination was the Ashiana restaurant. The ambience was amazing and so was food. We tried two popular Himachali non veg dishes, Chaa Meat and Anardana Chicken, along with the Himachali veg speciality Chane Ka Madra. All the three delicacies were delectably tangy because of the sour elements like curd and anardana. We thoroughly enjoyed the spread. You can try this place for traditional cuisine.

 

Our culinary trail ended with chocolate and strawberry pan from Guru Pan. It wasn’t very appealing as the taste of the paan was completely overpowered by the sweetness and the chocolate and strawberry flavours.

 

With this our Shimla Food Tour came to end. We are truly grateful for the enlightening company of our genial host Savijot Singh.

 

Video Links for the Shimla Food Tour:

 

Shimla Food Walk Part 1 

 

Shimla Food Walk Part 2

 

 

Shimla Food Walk Part 3