Pushkar Food Tour
By Anubhav Sapra
Pushkar is an ideal place for a street food walk. The whole city can be covered in a couple of hours on foot. Infact, if you walk closely observe your surroundings, there is a chance that you will start recognising the faces of the locals. This is what happened with me when I visited Pushkar last week. After one round of the city, I can recall and recognise most of the places and people. That’t the beauty of this small city.
While most of the blogs talk about the cafes in Pushkar, I was quite sure there is going to be some unexplored street food of Pushkar to be unearthed. Like most of the temple cities in India, Pushkar too has amazing street food. I walked and walked and walked from morning till evening, all the while talking to locals and trying a delicious array of street food.
The journey started with Pushkar Breakfast Corner near varaha ghat. A street food cart that sells Pizza Pakwan i.e., poha with mathri and dal – this was a perfect example street fusion food. Dal Pakwan is an authentic sindhi breakfast dish where big sized mathri, made up of maida is served with dal. And poha – flattened rice, cooked with mustard seeds is a famous breakfast of north India. Pushkar breakfast corner shop simply combined both of them – dal pakwan and poha, and named it Pizza Pakwan. The base is of mathri, over it he evenly spreads poha, then adds dal, and tops it with sew, namkeen, onion, chutney, chaat masala and fresh coriander. It was a simple twist given to the dishes, which made it taste great. The crunchiness of the mathri blended perfectly with the light and fluffy poha. The crispy additions on the top like fried peanuts and sew added a spicy twist to it. The shop opens at 6 am and everything gets finished by 12 noon. The pizza pakwan is priced at Rs 30.
Just on a walking distance is another shop that opens up only in the morning time– Pushkar chaat bhandar- mohan ji bhujia wale famous for pakodi, which is also known as bhujia here. The shop is run by father son duo mohan ji and kamal. It is sold by kilograms at 200 per kg. Normal small size pakodis (fritters) of spinach and besan are topped with kadi (not to be confused with curry). The way kadi is prepared in this part of Rajasthan is completely different from other parts. There is no use of yoghurt or buttermilk in it. It is simply made up of besan and water. The combination of kadi with pakodi is quite unique to Ajmer district of Rajasthan. In Bihar, I had tried kadi with samosa. This was a really fulfilling meal. The fresh crisp pakodis with plain kadi were a perfect breakfast.
After having kadi pakodi, we tried kachori with mango chutney at Ugma ji shop. The dough of refined flour is stuffed with dal ki pitthi to be deep fried in oil. What made it special is the thick mango chutney served with kachori. The kachoris were crisp and flaky.
Pushkar can be named as the city of Malpua. You can spot a malpua shop in every nook and corner of the city. There is a dedicated lane for sweet sellers in Pushkar near Gau ghat- Halwai gali or the street of sweet makers.
To make delicious malpuas, first the batter of white flour is prepared; Second, it is poured and deep fried in oil; third, the cooked malpuas are soaked in sugar syrup. What makes Pushkar malpua special is the rabri malpua. Instead of adding water to the batter, condensed milk is added to give it an amazing nutty taste. The most popular shop in Pushkar is Sarvadia mishthan bhandar in Halwai gali.
After having malpua at Sarvadia misthan bhandar, we went on to try Laffa at Ganga restaurant. The whole city of Pushkar is known for religious tourism and leisure tourism. There are cafes and restaurants catering to people from all over the world. Most of the foreign tourists are from Middle East and they have somewhat influenced the street food as well. There are 3 shops next to each other selling falafel, hummus and other middle eastern food. The most famous dish is the laffa- a wrap stuffed with hummus, falafel, garlic sauce, mushroom, onion, tomatoes, potato wedges, pepper, salt. Cooked in Olive oil, it was a delight to watch the preparation. And the taste was simply amazing. The other dish we tried at laffa wala was the pizza roll. It was the same filling with loads of cheese except falafel, hummus and potato wedges.
Next, we went on to try the golgappa at a street cart with 6 different flavours- regular (mint and jeera), garlic, cumin, mint, hajmola and lemon. My favourite was lemon- a truly refreshing water with the right spices.
The next stop was Lala ji ke parantha cart. It can be spotted anywhere in the lanes of Pushkar after 7 pm till 12 midnight till the stock lasts. This was the best parantha I’ve ever had. I tried the mix vegetable cheese parantha. The stuffing of the parantha consists of mashed potatoes, sew ( namkeen), onion, paneer,cheese, spices. The paranthas are first pan fried in butter then in ghee. There are cooked properly and cut into small pieces with the help of a pizza cutter. The paranthas are served with a dip made up of yoghurt and garlic. The cost of one parantha was Rs 120.
The last food stop was Makhaniya gulkand lassi at Kumawat lassi cart. At kumawat lassi cart, the thick lassi is topped with cream, rabri and gulkand (a blend of rose petals, sugar and spices ). Priced at INR 30 and served in a clay cup, it tasted divine.
What a marvelous city!