Three years ago, I made an announcement on my social media platforms regarding a road trip to North India. An important pit stop was Indore in Madhya Pradesh, the very reason being food offered by the city. I specifically mentioned about ‘Garadu’ (a type of yam relished by Indoris, especially during winters) and invited opinions about it from the people who have tried it. Somehow, that jigsaw of road trip never came together and Indore (very surprisingly) remained a distant dream (though the distance to be covered was not more than 700 km from Mumbai)
As the luck would have it, I got an opportunity to visit Indore over a slightly extended weekend. The agenda was to catch up with the family of a close friend, Dr. Dhingra and the hidden agenda was to raid all possible places which are popular for food. ‘Sarafa Bazaar’ is the place included in my most passionate dreams (pun intended!). Do you know my passion for food? J. However, this time, the research quotient didn’t come to play and I simply remembered the dishes but not the places which served them (except ‘Joshi Dahi Bada House’ in Sarafa Bazaar)
The day I landed in Indore, I got to meet with an outdoor adventures enthusiast and a corporate trainer, Mr. Rakesh Jain who like many other Indoris is a foodie at core. As a typical outsider, I had ticked Sarafa Bazaar and Chappan Dukaan as my preferred destinations. But Mr. Jain had some different ideas. And the list he gave out was exhaustive. The description of the places and dishes was making me feel hungry and salivating but I contained my emotions with utmost gentlemanly manner. After an hour long conversation, it was an earthly need to hear my belly who was cringing even though I had a late afternoon lunch.
Rasagulla House, Near Geeta Bhavan, Manorama Ganj
Specialty – Rasagullas, Gulab Jamuns
Taste – 7/10 Ambiance – 5/10 Service – 9/10 VFM – 8/10
|Gulab Jamuns..soft, warm and yummy|
I started my Indore Serenade on a sweet note by visiting Rasagulla House in Manorama Ganj. Dr. Dhingra was expecting guests at home in the evening and was summoned to get sweets. Rasagulla House in the nearby area was the best choice. Though the banners explicitly advertise ‘Rasagulla, Rasmalai and Rajbhog’, I fell for the yummy, warm and soft Gulab Jamuns. Three gulab jamuns and two rasagullas was somewhere I decided to stop as I had a plan to visit Sarafa Bazaar same evening. It’s predominantly a take-away place and hence, there’s no place to sit as such. But if your sweet tooth is really pressing you hard then you can get your plate and stand there and clean those rounds of goodies at a go!
Sarafa Bazar (It is the landmark….)
Specialty – Street Food (Dahi Badas, Bhutte ki kees, Garadu, Sabudana Khichadi, Jalebas, Malpuas, gulab Jamuns, Kulfi, Shikanji)
Taste – 6/10 Ambiance – 4/10 Service – 8/10 VFM – 8/10
‘Sarafa Bazaar’ is a perfect example of a symbiotic system. In the daylight and till the dusk falls, it is a jewellery market and after that, it becomes a foodie’s haven. You can experience a similar transition in Ahmedabad at Manek Chowk. It’s a simple arrangement – the late night dwellings guard the jewellery shops, for the crowd it attracts and in return, get a nice platform to sell their food. We reached the place at around 10.30 p.m. (mind you, the place comes to life only after 10 in the night). It was an eve of Ramzan Eid and there was a sizeable crowd shopping to celebrate eid, on our way to Sarafa Bazar. The brief rains had made the scene little slippery and slushy. Our babies were yawning and lo and behold, there was a huge procession of Lord Balaji making all the way from the main street of Sarafa Bazar. Not the best of the platforms to enjoy your food and for a minute, I honestly thought about making a U turn and try some other place. Patience, my friend, patience! We waited till the procession moved on and we finally entered the Sarafa Bazar.
The samosa shop on the left hand corner gives a little glimpse of what is on the plate (of course, samosas J). The name I remember faintly is ‘Prachin (Old….Prachin is actually older than the old) Samose ki Dukan’ I am always intrigued by the way the food stalls brand themselves, especially in North India. The name could be little confusing as we are not sure if the samosa is PRACHIN, the recipe is prachin or the shop is prachin. Prachin in Sanskrit means Historic. Most of the shops which are located at revered places in India (North?) use this adjective Prachin very frequently to flaunt their authenticity and quality. You would find shops starting with the name ‘Prachin’ at places like Haridwar, Varanasi and Mathura. We have few gems in North India who put an adjective of ‘Asli’ (the original) as plagiarism is rampant across the territory. But we’ll have this discussion in some other post.
Joshi Dahi Bada House, Sarafa Bazar
Specialty – Dahi Badas and Bhutte ki kees
Taste – 8/10 Ambiance – 5/10 Service – 9/10 VFM – 9/10
We headed straight towards Joshi Dahi Bada house which is unquestionably can be called as the face of the Sarafa Bazar. The procession of Lord Balaji had robbed us off the opportunity to meet Mr. Joshi who has been covered by many food shows and is famous for his Ghulam-Badshah conversation, ideally ending with Puchiye Kyun? (Ask why?) and his skill to toss the plate in the air and sprinkle masalas on the dahi bada (I certainly prefer the second skill as the first one is meant for the food shows). I got my first hands on ‘Bhutte ki kees’’instead of Dahi Bada. With my stomach gurgling and asking for some inputs, it was obvious that I fell for it. Made up of finely ground boiled corn, spiced up with lemon and other ingredients, it tastes nice but not an explosion in the oral cavity. It has a subtle taste. Works well with your palate. Dahi Bada ofcourse remains the main attraction. The two water soaked and then squeezed badas with a generous ladle of sweet curd (not yogurt, just to clarify) and sprinkling of the aromatics makes it worth travelling to Sarafa Bazar. You may feel like going for another of dahi badas. You get as much dahi as you want (what generosity..indeed the customer is Badshah!)
Sawaliya Seth Ki Sabudana Khichdi
Specialty – Sabudana Khichdi (Spiced pearl sego)
Taste – 8/10 Ambiance – 5/10 Service – 7/10 VFM – 8/10
Sabudana Khichdi is such a humble snack, comes into highlight especially on the day of religious fasting (I really wonder if it does any good to your guts). But it is a convincingly tasty snack. Being a Maharashtrian, I always fancied about Sabudana Khichdi on so called ‘FASTING’ days and would generally end up overeating. Some people just seem to have nailed the recipe. It’s a tricky preparation and involves lot of hardwork. You have to be patient till the milky white pearl sego starts turning translucent and you can earn well-endowed biceps. So I was pleasantly surprised when I came to know that Indoris also took a great fancy at this humble and yet tasty snack.
Sawaliya Seth’s sabudana khichdi is a typical street food version. A big pot of sabudanan khichdi kept warm in yet another big pot with boiling water. Sabudana tends to get sticky and rubbery as it cools and it is important to maintain the right temperature. As you place an order for a plate, the guy will briskly take out a ladle of sabudana khichdi and sprinkle it with some spice powder and finely chopped coriander. The appearance could be disguising as the dish tastes lot better than it actually looks. We get slightly upmarket version of this snack at a popular eatery in Indore, ‘Apna Sweets’. This is where Rocky went week in his knees even for such a humble vegetarian dish. A must try!
Taste – 5/10 Ambiance – 5/10 Service – 8/10 VFM – 8/10
Indoris probably have all their 32 teeth made up of ‘sugar tooth’. It is evident from the fact that these guys like to enjoy their morning poha with piping hot, crispy jalebis. But ever heard of Jaleba? Sounds like a masculine version of Jalebi (bai???). It is (oh that patriarch society approach…huh?)! Jaleba weighs almost 350-400 g, flaunts its body for all the deep frying, glistens with extraordinary gloss of the sugar syrup, ravishing orange/yellow in colour and is soft at core. It is indeed a treat to take a bite and take a moment to come to reality. But it is a heavyweight stuff and unlikely to be cleaned by a guy/girl with even above normal appetite. I kept on chomping it till I finished almost 70% of it and then gave up. (Remember that I had 2 rosogullas and 3 gulab jamuns the same evening!)
Special mention for Shikanji of Indore! This shikanji is unlike you get in North India, which is a thirst quencher but good god, the Indori Shikanji can take care of your calorific requirements for few days. Made up of milk and rabadi with assortment of dry fruits, it can humble any milkshake. I still remorse at the fact that I reached ‘Nagori Shikanji’ when it was closed and had little place left in my stomach when I approached ‘Rabadi Guru’ in Sarafa Bazar. That was a heartbreak!
But somehow, my palate for sweet is not congruent with most of the towns in India. In these Tier II and III cities of India, there’s a lot emphasis on a dish being sweet and syrupy which according to me destabilizes the taste of a dessert. I prefer subtle sweetness in a sweetmeat/dessert and hence, most of the time left unimpressed with the sweet offerings in many towns in India. There was a similar story of ‘Basant Icecream’ in Ludhiana. I found it too sweet to enjoy. I am a fan of Natural Icecreams (like a Mumbaikar) and believe nothing beats the subtle flavours of fruit in it. So when I was trying the ‘Famous’ Nema Kulfi/Falooda at the Sarafa Bazar, one spoon and I was done.
Bablu Sandwich, Manik Bagh Road
Taste – 8/10 Ambiance – 6/10 Service – 8/10 VFM – 6/10
|Masala Paneer Sandwich|
My food guide for Indore, Mr. Rakesh Jain insisted that I should not leave Indore before tasting sandwiches at Bablu Sandwich. I obliged and have not stopped thanking Mr. Jain for recommending this place. I am not a fan of the sandwiches they make in Mumbai called as ‘Bombay Sandwich’. The product is horrible for me and the chutneys they give along with those sandwiches are worse than the sandwich itself. So honestly, I had my own reservations going to try sandwiches in Indore but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me.
|Italian Club Sandwich..Super Loaded!|
When I reached the place, we were the only customers and hence, sheepishly confirmed if this is the only ‘Bablu Sandwich’ in Indore. After clarifying, I started conversation with Mr. Bablu Jain who is the owner and introduced myself.
He was excited to meet a ‘food blogger’ who
He was excited to meet a ‘food blogger’ who
came all the way from ‘Mumbai’. He himself offered to choose sandwiches from his menu for us. We tried three different sandwiches from different categories – Italian Pizza Club (Super Loaded), Masala Paneer Sandwich (Semi Loaded) and Biscuito Choclate Crisp Toast (Dessert). I must say that the first two sandwiches were loaded with flavor (with cheese too) and kinda caused an explosion of flavor bomb in my mouth. The breads used are fresh, generous use of toppings and stuffings make it a joyous gastronomic fair. However, my conflict continued with sweet category as I found the third sandwich too sweet for my palate. The extra hand of condensed milk drizzled with chocolate syrup was something which I struggled at the end to finish.
Some patrons in Indore still swear by the name of Sapna Sandwiches; but I think Bablu Sandwiches is coming up fast and catching the fancy of Indore’s new generation of foodies. It is certainly not cheap though as it would be in Sarafa Bazar or Chappan Dukan. The Italian PIzza Club costs you INR 220 which is at a fair premium to vegetarian range of Subway Sandwiches. But it’s good that I have made friends with Mr. Bablu Jain. He has promised to guide me on my next food trip to Indore. J
|Biscuito Chocolate Sandwich|
1. Lal Balti Kachori (Rambara)
2. Jalebi Poha at Jain Shree
3. Head Sahab ke Pohe
4. Ravi’s Aloo ki Kachori (Anand Bazaar Corner)