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Taste of India

When it comes to food nothing can beat the Indian cuisine. Vidhi Bhargava writes on the country's best food hubs.

india Updated: May 29, 2008 15:07 IST
Vidhi Bhargava

When food is on your mind there can’t be a better option than Destination India. With a cuisine as diverse as the Punjabi chholas and Kancheepuram dosais, there is just so much to choose from. Here’s looking at the food hubs of the country.

Ahmedabad
The Gujaratis love their food, and this is amply evident with restaurants bursting at the seams every evening. Specialties range from Gujarati thalis, daal-dhokli, handwo, undhiyo to sweets like srikhand, fafda and doodhpak.

Law garden and the CG Road are the prominent food streets followed by Manek Chowk in the old city. This vegetarian paradise also serves some delicious non-vegetarian fare in the walled city.

Must eats: Thali at Vishala and Chetna, fafda and jalebis at Chandravilas, Bhatiyar Gulley’s seekh kababs and bhajias at Raipur Bhajia House.

Agra-Mathura-Vrindavan
There is more to Agra besides the Taj. The food in Agra is predominantly pure vegetarian (no onion-no garlic) UP brahmin-baniya food with some non-vegetarian Mughlai food. The bylanes of the old city are replete with aromas of freshly fried puris and parathas and kababs roasting on charcoal. Agra’s twin city Mathura and neighbouring Vrindavan, however, are purely vegetarian. Bedmi kachoris and puris are the highlight.

Must eats:
Panchhi’s petha and dalmoth, Brijwasi’s pede, Chiman ki bedmi-aloo, Devi Ram’s samosas, aloo tikki at Kinari Bazaar and Sadar Bazaar and Ram Babu ke paranthe.

Amritsar
The city with a big heart transforms into one large khau galli in the evenings. Food is a passion and a big business in the holy city teeming with small roadside eateries, vendors on carts and dhabas. It has dishes like the Amritsari naan and Amritsari macchi.

Must eats: Daalmakhani at Kesar da Dhaba at Chowk Passian, puri chana at Kanhaiya, tandoori chicken at Chawla Chicken, kulcha on Maqbool Road, Anant Ram’s kulche chole, Makhan’s fried fish, Giani Halwai’s lassi, sarson da saag and makke di roti at Bharawan da Dhaba, papads and wadiyan at Pappad-Wadiyan Bazaar

Varanasi
Referred to as the City of Gods, Varanasi is also a City of Food.. largely vegetarian, satwik food with no onion or garlic. The birthplace of chaat — the narrow bylanes leading to the ghats are bustling with little halwai ki dukaans with large kadhais and tawas dishing out kachoris, aloo ki chaat, kadai ka doodh and more.

Must eats:
Sweets at Ram Bhandar, chaat at Chowk, Pehlwan ka doodh, lavang lata and kheer kadam at Jaljog, pakoras and thandai at Vishwanath galli.

Delhi


The capital is a foodie’s paradise. The cuisine is a blend of

baniya

food of the Walled city, the Muslim kababs and curries, a legacy of the Mughal rulers and the Punjabi

chhole bhature

and

tandoori

chicken of west Delhi. Besides, now there is haute cuisine from the world over.



Must eats:

Sitaram Bazaar’s

chaat

, Natraj’s (Chandni Chowk)

dahi

bhalle

and

golguppas

, Frontier’s (Panchkuian Road)

samosas

,

jalebi

and

samosas

at Dariba,

chole

bhature

at Sitaram(Paharganj), Roshan

di Hatti

(Karol Bagh) and Chacha

di hatti

(Kamla nagar),

kababs

at Jama Masjid and Karim’s.

Indore


The city of Holkars, in the heart of the country, has a rich and remarkable food history. It has the largest market in the country dedicated entirely to food and eating. The Sarafa Market, that comes alive in the evenings, and Chappan Dukaan with 56 shops are the two food hubs in the city. Indore boasts of several dishes indigenous to it like the

bhutte ki khees, daali bhafle, poha-jalebi

and

garadu

(yam chaat). Other popular dishes include

sabudana khichdi, shikanji

with dry fruit and

parathe

.



Must eats:

Bhutte ki khees

at Sarafa market,

dahi bade

at Joshi Chaat, milk at Laxminarayan

Doodhwale

, Mathurawala for sweets,

kulfi

at Neemaji Ki Kulfi, Karnawat ka

paan

,

kachori

at Bhatti,

Rajwad

, Ram Babu

ke paranthe

.

Kolkata
This culinary city offers not just Bengali food and sweets but cuisines brought in by the Raj and immigrants. So there are the chops, cutlets and rolls brought in by the English rulers and the chowmein popularised by ChinaTown.

Must eats: Rolls, parathas and mutton curry at Amina, rasgullas at KC Das, sandesh at Bhim Nag, Nakud and Jadav Das, moghlai parota from Anadi, kosha mangsho from Golbari, puchkas and jhalmuri at Victoria maidan, singara from Mrityunjo, daab chigri from Kewpies, Ballygunge’s chicken cutlet, Bijoli Grill's fish Orly and pantua from Bancharam.

Lucknow
A foodie haven, Lucknow is home to the most melt-in-the-mouth galauti kababs, niharis, sheermals, kormas and kalias. The Chowk in Aminabad is the hub for Awadhi cuisine but there’s plenty for the vegetarians too. Quite exceptional are the puri-kachori, golgappas and mattare ki chaat.

Must eats: Tundey ke kababs, malai paan from Ashrey, Rahim’s kulche-nahari at Chowk, kababs at Dasterkhwan and Daal Mein Kala, chaat at Shuklaji in Ganesh ganj, puri-kachori at Radhey Lal and sweets at Chhappan Bhog and Mahesh Sweets.

Hyderabad
Lucknow’s southern counterpart has much more to it than its biryanis.The city carries forth the culinary legacy of the Nizams and Mughals with small eateries and restaurants dishing out specialities like kormas, kalias, nihari, pathar ka gosht and the Hyderabadi special kache gosht ki biryani. Another must-try here is the fiery Andhra food.

Must eats: Biryanis at Paradise and Yatri-Nivas, haleem at Sarvee and Hyderabad House, Andhra food at Annalaxmi.