As much as the breakfast food trail across Agra filled me up, it also left me wanting to not miss out on the other unexplored gems. Tahir obliged and took me to the next stop on our gastronomical journey; Ram Babu Paranthe Waale, in Sikandra on NH-2. This place has been serving its flavours, both old and new, drenched in Ghee for the past 87 years. From old favourites such as potato and mix-veg paranthas, to crowd pullers like maggi and chocolate, and bizarre ones like pomegranate and apples, their menu has several varieties of stuffing for you pick from and surprise your taste-buds.
We decided to get out hands on a classic mix-veg parantha, penne pasta parantha, and the Maggi parantha. Be prepared to throw your diets in the backseat while visiting this place, since each of these paranthas is fried in a thick pan, drenched in around a hundred grams of ghee and served with aaloo-matar sabzi (potato and green pea curry), some kadhi, pumpkin dish, some tamarind chutney, and pickle.
We first tried the Maggi parantha, which is especially popular among the young customers. The stuffing had green-peas, chopped carrots, and some extra masalas to amp up the heat. It was spicy and got us excited to move on to our mix-veg parantha. This was stuffed with green-peas, carrots, onions, and potatoes. The preparation was so crisp that we could hear it crackle as we dug into it.
Last came our penne pasta stuffed parantha. The pasta was tossed in desi masalas and topped with some cream. The fried pie-like result was then generously coated with grated cheese making it taste like nothing short of a pizza with a north-Indian twist.
This 87-year-old restaurant displays a perfect picture of the long way that the Indian food-culture, has come with 32 kinds of paranthas in its menu. They plan to add 36 more varieties and keep the menu ever-evolving.
Our adventures continued as we reached a neat and unconventionally fancy, lit up Chai Tapri serving Tandoori Chai. The chai is served in Kulhad, a clay utensil, often used to serve drinks in. The Kulhads are heated up over coals in a tandoor. Fresh milk-tea is then poured in these glistening-red clay-mugs, making the Chai boil and bubble up; and taking in the distinct, earthen smell and aroma of the mud. The chai, perhaps a bit-sweet to please the taste of the locals, has a nice flavour of cardamom and ginger.
Agra sent my way a wave of unexpected innovation while still keeping the essence of the original, making me wonder what more the city has to offer.