Sunday, August 24, 2014

In search of good food- Rajasthan diaries- Foodie at Jaisalmer- Part 3

We now share the wonderful food which Jaisalmer offers to a traveler who is on a weekend visit to this magical fort. We bring you those gems which probably you won't find in traveler guides.These are no high end hotels but the ones which are hit with locals.The simplicity of people shows up in the flavors of the desert.The honesty of life brings up the quality of food offered to each guest. We landed at Jaisalmer at lunch so we begin our foodie adventure at noon.

Day1: Our first stop is New Chandanshree restaurant and sweets at overlooking the fort for a lovely Rajasthani meal.You are served thali with sev and laddu and you can also have hot syrupi jalebis if you enjoy your sweets.The desert in the olden days was barren from fresh fruit and vegetables hence this cuisine uses more of the dried berries and vegetables and lots of different flours like ragi, jowar, bajra which is easily available in arid regions.Also cuisine has some amazing techniques like slow cooked gravies with buttermilk and spices.After having an awesome lunch we head to the living fort of Jaisalmer.(Refer to Part 1 of Jaisalmer to discover what we saw.

For our evening tea, we head to the Prabhu tea stall for some hot tea, saffron milk and sutarfeni. This shop is a reason to believe that a tiny shop can be one of the biggest hit in town.It stands in the main chowk right next to bus stop and is a perfect pit stop for any traveler.
The stuff served is high on quality yet at affordable price, is served with lot of love and you will end up having more milk than you ever intended. You have small seating benches where you can catch up with local banter.

For Dinner,we head to Bishnoi hotel opposite police chowki for the best dhaba in town.Dinner is served in traditional dhaba style with hot and unlimited jowar Roti's and spicy hot curries ker sangri and gate ki kadi served with chilled buttermilk.Its no fuss dhaba but one of the best meals that we tasted. Our stomachs were full but heart still longed for some more. Clearly many high end restaurants at metros can learn from people who serve you food here.

Day 2: Next day morning our first pitstop was Shri Ram sweet home for the breakfast of kachori and samosa to be gulped down with hot kulhad wali chai or tea served in earthen cups.

Now that breakfast is over we head to Hawelis and roam around the desert.(Refer part 2 of Rajasthan diaries to read about the gems we saw

After sight seeing we were hungry and tired.It was time for lunch, so we walked down to Hotel Milan which is another favorite with locals for lunch it is food cooked with love at home. Its a small place for having your thalis while mother-son duo serve you from their kitchen and yes Ghar me khane ki baat hi alag hai.Amazing food , no fuss and full of ghee and flavors

Our dinner was at another gem of hotel in Jaisalmer- Hotel Marudhar, next to Railway station, which is actually a small dhaba near some lodges. The taste is awesome and hit with all the tourists who need a typical dhaba feel. You will find families, truck wallahs and locals peacefully enjoying their dinner.Clearly the taste has nothing to do with the ambience here..

Last but not the least, best sweetmart at town is known for the most amazing besan laddus and pedas in Jaisalmer.Both locals and restaurateurs swear by the purity and taste of  Dhanraj Ranmal Bhatia.Its one of  the best sweets that we have ever tasted.Do not miss this shop when you drop by.The fame is very visible as we not only spot locals but some Japanese tourists having a quick bite here. Clearly when it comes to flavors, Jaisalmer wins hands down.

We then head out to the desert safari @ Samm ..(Watch out this space for more..)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

In search of good food- Indore Diaries-Part1-Saraafa Bazaar

The importance of Indore is highlighted in various sacred texts from ages of Parmar dynasty to Holkars.It has been a major educational hub developed extensively by Devi Ahilyabai Holkar in 1800s and currently the only city to have both IIT and IIM.It is not only education that attracts people here, you can very well, call it the Mecca of Vegetarian cuisine.

We had to visit this place to understand how it binds people together for generations to Indore.

Why we say so,just announce that you are visiting Indore and you will have the faithful screaming Saraafa Saraafa Saraafa!!!
 We had to start our foodie pilgrimage by visiting the legendary Saraafa bazaar at Indore.It usually begins after 8pm(Mon-Sat) and by 6 PM(Sunday) when all silver & gold showrooms have closed their shutters This is not just a gully which serves food but a place that weave memories.We are lucky to visit this on national holiday so the street is already bustling with flavors by 5pm.There are few shops which are open thoroughout the day while few need a specific time of visit.

Our first halt is at Vijay Chat house at the entrance of Saraafa bazaar which is famous for its kopra and bafla(potato) patties(actually refers to huge balls of potatoes with stuffing of dry fruits and dry coconut deep fried till its golden brown).You can also try the aloo badaa and kachori served with mint chutney.Though there is small seating arrangement, most of the people love to eat it just outside the shop.

                                                                 We then move on to Joshi Dahi bade wale which is run by its 3rd generations and is known more for Joshi ji's histrionics than its taste.Dahi badas and Bhutte ki kachori has its own league of followers here.

Right next to Joshi Dahi Bade is Nagori shikanji,which is mecca for people who love their milkshakes.Although Shikanji is all over India might be Lemonade but Shikanji here is out of the world.You need to be at the shop early as it is over by 2pm and every Indori swears by its taste.It is a concoction of concentrate of full fat milk rabadi and cut fruits.One glass at this
tiny outlet and you are relishing the taste to eternity.Saraafa is a gully of outlets serving you satisfaction to your sweet tooth- Rabadi, Moong daal Halwa,gajar halwa syrupy jalebis to hot gulab jamuns,Kala jamuns and mawa bati.You will find each and every street food from the different places of India here.

Right opposite to Nagori Shikanji is Rajhans Daal Bafla ladoo thali at 2nd floor which looks like a distant cousin of Daal baati churma.This unlimited thali at Rs150 serves its patrons with huge quantity of salad daal kadi mint and garlic chutney, dry laddu, peas pulao, and baafla which is served with oodles of ghee or clarified butter.This is definitely the pride of Indore- Daal Bafla @Rajhans is a hit with all generations

Our next halt is at Suresh Chat Center which opens after Punjabi saraf jewelers shuts down around 9pm.Spicy bhutte ki kees, samosa,kachori and garadu await us.
The Saraafa adventure has just begun..people are selling chole tikkis, Malpuas,pani patasha in 6 flavors(same as gol gappas), to spicy Indian Chinese and you are spoilt forever.

Next to it is a stall serving masala dosa pav bhaji while the opposite stalls sell delicious rabadi, malpuas, rasmalais and rassgullas.Truely there is no food that we will not get here.The love for food is visible in every gully of Indore, this is the only place in India where you would get special khichdi counters which shows 'fast' is food business sabudana khichfi,faraali, aloo chips in various flavors tempt your taste bud
Truely our Saraafa fascination has just begun!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

In search of Good food-Rajasthan diaries-Part 5 - Bikaner

Spicy tangy savories.. if this is on your mind then you are undoubtedly thinking of Bikaner.
Yes, run on century old strongly guarded recipes by Agarwal families, Bikaneri bhujia has captivated one and all.

From the lasooni variety (Garlic and black pepper) to the mild and crispy,immensely popular across generations, aloo bhujia(potatoes), to phalhari this is one snack which has put the town of traders in the mind of all food lovers.

Our first stop and good place for breakfast is the Chotu Motu's(near Railway station) which serves the traditional Ras wali aloo ki sabji with Hot Pooris (Fried bread &potato curry )and Methi ki sabji with poori (Fried bread with fenugreek seed curry).Also enjoy the piping hot jalebis (fried crispy Donut's in sugar syrup).

Now that we are stomach full we take rickshaw to visit the beautiful anoop mahal @Bikaner palace which is run by erstwhile royal family. 

Must visit is the museum which shows the grandeur of the bygone era.It has one of the best pieces at display for clothes and crafts of bygone era

We then head out to the local market or the mirchi bazaar to check out the masalas or spices which is essential to yummy Rajasthani food.I bet the chillies here are not for the weak hearted and you will be sneezing if you stay put at a shop more than 5 minutes.

Our next stop is to have yummy kachori chat mirchi bada and pakoras at Daga Chowk.Small road side eateries serving hot and sweet snack s just right for your teatime.

We then head to Radhekrishna mandir to pay our respects to Lord Krishna which holds a special significance to all Bikaneri Hindu households.

We then move to visit the 1st shop of the snack giant Haldiram and Bhikharam Chandmal Bhujiawala(Court Gate),where Ghevar ,Golgappe and Raj Kachoris greet us at must also have syrupy rassgullas gulab jamuns and sutar feni.. Another must visit is  near this shop is Sankhla Kulfi ,known for its Kulfi.
Waah Bikaner we are still craving for more..

Saturday, August 2, 2014

In Search of Good Food- Rajasthan Diaries -Jaisalmer -Part2

Tillon ki prol
Jaisalmer has its own share of secrets, best one is Gadisagar Lake or Gadsisar lake.The beautiful gateway was built by royal courtesan named Tillon in the end of 19th century and is known as Tillon Ki prol (Gate of Tillon).
Lord Vishnu's statue was installed in the year 1908 A.D.,a Krishna Temple was built here to save it from demolition by the then Maharawal.
Feeding catfish @Gadisar lake

Gadisar Lake
Gadisar lake was originally a rain water conservation tank built in 1400 A.D. by the then maharaja of Jaisalmer, Maharwal Gadsi Singh but now it serves as a major tourist attraction.This reservoir outside the city walls,a supply for entire city.
You can sit along the sides of the lake to watch a beautiful sunset,feed the catfish near the arches or go boating with family. 
If you are lucky you will find herds of cattle, camels,migratory birds from Bharatpur near lake, adding magic to the beauty and mystique. It has also been a hotspot for dream sequences of Bollywood movies and advertisment shoots like recently shot Zoya from Tanishq.

Jaisalmer is also famous for its hawelis, specially Diwan Nathmal 's Haveli and Patwaon ki Haveli. These were built by wealthy families and still their descendants live in last part of these Havelis. Although some parts have been taken over by government.The marvel of these buildings also denote the flourishing trade of that time and they still remain a very popular tourist destination.All these structures were built by melting metal and soldering them in hinges as there was scarcity of water in the desert.

Diwan Nathmal's Haveli
Nathmal Ji ki haveli was to serve as the residence of Diwan Mohata Nathmal, the then Prime Minister of Jaisalmer. Maharawal Beri Sal commissioned the construction of this Haveli. The architects were 2 brothers Hathi and Lulu who started building different facets of haveli simultaneously without tracking the shape and continuity and this resulted in a unique design which has both Rajput and Islamic architecture. One of the most beautiful architectural aspects are the elephants which guard the entrance of this Haveli.Architecture of these huge palatial houses is intricate and one must see the glass carvings all over the roof.
How to Reach Nathmal ji ki Haveli: Take a rickshaw or reach by walk as it is in the heart of Jaisalmer
Timings:  Havelis are open to tourist till 5pm.

Patwon Ji ki Haveli, was the first haveli erected in Jaisalmer and it is a cluster of 5 small havelis each belong to the 5 sons of Guman Chand Patwa.The first haveli is the biggest and the most beautiful and was built around 1805 and the remaining were completed in next 50 years.The havelis is also known as the 'mansion of brocade merchants'. This name has been given probably because the family dealt in threads of gold and silver used in embroidering dresses. There are interesting shops and curios opposite to this haveli which offer interesting stuff.
Patwaon ki Haveli
How to Reach Patwaon ji ki Haveli: Take a rickshaw or reach by walk near Patwa complex.
Timings:  Havelis are open to tourist till 5pm.
How to reach: Jaisalmer can be easily reached from Jaipur,New Delhi, Jodhpur and other cities. Road and Rail transport connects all the cities very well in Rajasthan and it can be reached by Air from Mumbai ,Jaipur and Delhi.
Best time to visit Jaisalmer: Oct-Mar