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Indian 'thali' a hit among Bhutanese
Indo-Asian News Service
Thimphu, December 05, 2006
First Published: 06:00 IST(6/12/2006)
Last Updated: 19:41 IST(5/12/2006)

An eatery in the small town of Madarihat in West Bengal is emerging as a popular joint for Bhutan's food aficionados who rush there to cater to their gastronomical leanings.

The eatery called Annapurna in Jalpaiguri district is about an hour's drive from Phuentsholing, a border town in southern Bhutan.

One who heads for the quaint little eatery can't resist from ordering the wholesome thali - a generous serving of rice with dal (lentil), vegetable curry, mashed potato, fried potato sticks, potato and spinach curry.

Located near the Madarihat police station, Annapurna also serves other Indian dishes like roti and chana dal but the thaali sells best, says owner Ravi Das.

Bhutanese taxis, private vehicles, trucks and sometimes buses are often seen parked outside the eatery.

"From the 300-400 customers that the hotel serves in a day, about 100-150 are Bhutanese travellers," Das was quoted as saying by the state-run newspaper Kuensel.

"I like eating in dhabas (roadside eateries), especially when I am travelling," says K. Dorji, who enjoys the food at Annapurna.

"The food at the restaurant tastes good, the service is quick, and you can see the food being cooked and served fresh."

The mashed potato in the thali has a tangy raw onion taste and the potato sticks are deep-fried and crispy, which goes well with rice.

To satisfy the Bhutanese taste, green chillies are provided with some onion rings and lemon.

S Thinley, who is a regular traveller, likes the mutton curry and thali combination.

The thali costs Rs 20 while mutton curry costs an additional Rs.25, chicken Rs.30 and local fish Rs.40. Second helpings of rice cost Rs.2 for a ladle.

According to Das, the eatery has been in operation for almost 60 years.


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