Search this on Google and you would get a long list. Chhappan Dukan and Sarafa, night Bazar would be featuring on almost every site. So, while these two were already on my list, but I needed more. So, it was a variety of Poha and Jalebi, Sindhi Dal Pakwaan, Gujarati Fafda and Kadhi besides others in breakfast. A lunch of Rajasthani Thali or an ala carte order of Lehsuni Palak and Khichdi. And then some Hot Dog, Khopra Pattice and Batla Kachori during evening stroll. All this followed by some Coconut Crush, Garadu, Bhutte Ki Khees, Fruit Shots and what not, including a flying Dahi Bada in Sarafa. Is this mind boggling ? Well, all this was over about 36 hours in Indore, last weekend. Read on and this could serve as your broad itinerary for the city.
The city has many options. Every nook and corner you would find shops serving local breakfast and almost everyone would have crowds lined up. My research and of course my local cabbie (see Facebook story on him here) took us to some interesting joints for breakfast.
Outside Aurobindo Institute
There is a line up of a few stalls and you would find locals and mostly students in large numbers enjoying their morning grub. We had a flavourful Poha, the staple breakfast on Indore with Jalebi. The steamed Poha is scooped out of the huge mound and is then seasoned with Masala, garnished with chopped onions, green chillies and coriander leaves, is then topped up with 2-3 types of Sev and a wedge of lemon. This served, almost everywhere on a paper sheet. A very satisfying and flavourful breakfast. From yet another stall we tried Sabudana Vada, a fritter seasoned with masala, topped up with Chutney and garnished with coriander leaves and Sev. This again was fresh, crunchy outside and soft inside. And from yet another stall it was a Kachori. The guy made a depression in the centre and filled it with Saunth and Green Chutneys. Kachori needs no explanation. Once again the Dal-masala filling when had with the thick crust dipped in Chutney is a delight.
Head Sahab Ke Pohe, Old Palasia
This is an unassuming cart stationed in middle of a modern market complex. You can spot it by the crowds and the line up of cars in front of it in the morning hours. He serves a regular Poha and then Usal Poha. We wanted to try the Usal version. The steamed poha is first topped with boiled Chikpeas scooped out of a huge vessel which has a watery gravy of the Chhole. This is followed by placing a cube of fried Paneer, again scooped out of the pool in the vessel. This is then irrigated by the runny gravy which adds the heat of spices (more or less like Lotan of old Delhi) to the dish. This is then topped up with masala, two types of Sev, a dash of Curd (helps balance the heat in the whole dish) and finally some chopped onions. Again a different yet very flavourful dish, an authentic local breakfast.
Gujarati Fafda, near GPO
This outlet too does a brisk business.. Order your share and you get about 50 grams of golden fried (oil is not visible) crispy strips of Fafda on a sheet of paper. Soon a bowl of Gujarati Kadhi is served. The Kadhi is a bit sweet and the crispy Fafda is savoury. The combo is a flavourful delight. Intermittently, you can pickup pickled green chillies from a huge bowl placed on your table. The Chilli has all its flavours and not the heat. It too is having the balance of sweet and salt.
We also asked for a portion of Khaman (known as Dhokla in the north). The fluffy pieces of this steamed delicacy was sprinkled with Sev. This sweet and sour snack was again enjoyed with green chillies.
Shri Ganesh Kachori Corner, Arra Bazar
As per Rishi, this place is known to serve best Imarti. Unfortunately, at that time he wasn’t making it. For that, one had to wait till about 11. So, we settled for yet another round of Poha and Jalebi. Again a good deal, though.
Hira Chaat Corner, Sindhi Colony
Please do not try to look for a signboard. You may not find it. Therefore, go to Sindhi Colony and on the corner of Street No 2, you would find a no-name shop with people thronging it. Go closer and you would find a heap of fried Pakwaan (flat bread) stacked up. You have arrived at the right spot.
Order your share and you get a huge crispy fried Pakwaan (resembles a Matthi of north) topped up with fried Green Chilli and with a bowl of Dal (a concoction of two pulses). The Pakwaan is crisp, crunchy and flaky. Is a treat even on its own. The Dal was tangy with a runny consistency. Was a delight to savour the Pakwaan with this. The Dal, a combo of Green Whole Moong and the tiny Yellow Moong, with a dash of Tamarind water, some masala and chopped onions, in itself was a treat.
We had lunch at two places. Both were a different experience.
Shri Prathvilok Thali, Tulsi Tower, Geeta Bhawan Square
This place serves Rajasthani Thali. As soon as you are escorted to your table, the staff would start populating your Thali with a dish after another. The Thali in the picture above was laid down in mere five minutes. First, they would serve you a glass of cold Chhaach (butter milk) followed by some Chutneys, Papad, Salad, Khaman and Aloo Bonda (might vary from day to day). You may asked refill of any item as they would keep on coming back to you. Soon my thali was filled up with Dal, Kadhi, a Panner Subzi, One Subzi made with Lobiya and then a dry one with Bhindi (ladyfinger), Kadhi served with two types of Roti (flatbread) followed by Steamed Rice and two types of desserts to wrap up the meal. While I found rest of the items to be good, the Dal, the Lobiya dish and the dry Bhindi to be extremely tasty. Had a couple of refills too. The place is good for an experience. However, I may not go back again for the simple reason that I would like to try what other places serving Thali have to offer.
Apna Avenue, New Palasia
There is a chain of restaurants with a similar name with many outlets in the city. This one is a hotel and a stand alone restaurant. On a weekend afternoon, the place was full. We ordered from ala carte menu consisted of Chhachh , Lehsuni Palak with Butter Naan and Khichdi with Butter. While the service was not upto the mark and while waiting for our food, we were seriously thinking if we had made a wrong choice. As soon as the food came in, the looks and aroma impressed us. The Lehsuni Palak was a smooth concoction which had a glaze of Ghee over it and finely chopped garlic slices peeping out and a sprinkle of grated cheese over it. The Naan was crispy outside and moist inside. The combo was deadly and full of flavours. The Goldenish Khichdi too was good to look at and was quite tasty. A bit spicy yet was a delight. That explained the huge crowds despite not so good service. I would like to go again to taste other dishes.
Desserts Post Lunch
Rasgulla At Rasgulla House, Geeta Bhawan Road
If one has a sweet tooth and needs to satisfy the sweet cravings post lunch, then Rasgulla House is the answer. Run by a family, the place has a limited menu of Rasgulla, Rajbhog, Rasmalai and Gulab Jamun. Locals swear by their quality and that’s the reason, whenever you go, you would find quite a few people either getting the stuff packed or enjoying their share. During two days stay, I visited them twice. The items served here are made from pure Chhena and nothing is added to it except sugar. The size of the items is reasonable and is not heavy on the stomach, at all. One would fall in love with the sweet offerings. I would love to go there again and again.
Evening Snacking at Chhappan Dukan
The count of shops is no more 56, what it used to be many years ago. So, focus on Vijay Chaat House. They have a variety of offerings. Yet, I would suggest the must haves are Batla Kachori ( you would love the Green Peas filling), Samosa (a crispy and flavourful crunch) with a tasty mashed Potato filling and finally the Khopra Pattice, a ball which is made of Aloo and has a filling of flavourful masala with a taste of grated coconut. Sabudana Vada is also good here.
Have your next stop at Jhonny Hot Dog. Please don’t get confused by a shop with a same name. Both are at either end of the market and this one is identifiable with the huge crowds it would have. They serve three versions. Since the mutton one was over, I settled with the Egg Hot Dog and I didn’t miss the mutton. The bun was super soft, laden with butter and the egg had the rustic flavours. If you prefer vegetarian, even that is to die for.
To my mind, these two outlets are a must try. Rest all are also good but these two draw the maximum crowd.
Dinner at Sarafa Bazar
One must try to reach the place by 9 or so. One may find it extremely difficult to find a place for parking but then you would be able to navigate through a reasonably thinner crowd. We reached at around 915 and yet the crowd was there. By the time it was 11 while were returning, we were shoulder to shoulder, being pushed than being able to walk.
This nigh market is an experience in itself. Starts at around 830 or so and goes on till around 2 in the morning and almost 365 days a year, barring 2-3 days when its off. You would be spoilt for choices here and will have to decide, frustratingly, what to have and what to leave. You name it and you have it from Beverages to Desserts to Snacks to Chaat to Chowmein to Momos to what not. The best criteria would be to go to a vendor which would have crowds around him. We tried quite a few but let me list here what not to miss.
Joshi Dahi Bada House – Naturally, this is easily the hero of the market. Had huge crowds and the Joshi Ji himself is no less than a celebrity. He has unparalleled skill of flipping the plate of Dahi Bada in the air to quite a height while preparing and it lands back perfectly on his palm. Then with a sort of magic, in one go he would sprinkle 5 masalas one by one. As regards Dahi Bada, it is a must try. The thick curd made in an earthen vessel is sweet and the Bada is made of a coarsely ground lentil batter. Only one Saunth Chutney is added and is seasoned with 5 spices. My FB post link to the video and pictures is here.
Coconut Crush – At Kamal Coconut Crush, is a blend of Coconut Water of a green coconut and its pulp. The sharpness of the water and the silken body of the pulp when blended together gives a refreshing drink.
Lemon Soda– At Sawaria Ji Lemon Soda is made in front of your eyes. The soda is made from the indigenous machine and the fizz would come out of the glass as soon as it is poured. The vendor would urge you to drink it immediately that no one could. It is a delight.
Fruit Shots – This became my personal favourite. He serves 5-6 types of Shots made out of pure fruit pulp which is kept chilled in ice. I tried Jamun Shot, Guvava Shot, Kiwi Shot and the Mango Shot. All were good but the Jamun Shot turned out to be the hero. Pure Jamun seasoned with black salt was nostalgic which would take anyone to the childhood. I had three shots of it and fell in love with it.
Swadisht Samosa Counter – Another shop which draws huge crowds. The owner comfortably sits on the floor and keeps on frying, one portion at a time, of this unique Chaat, Garadu. What fried Aloo Chaat is to the north, this is staple to chaat lovers in Indore. The crust is crisp and the inside is a soft pulp. These fried cubes are served with a generous sprinkle of masala and dash of lime. Other favorites of this outlet are Samosa and Kachori.
Bhutte Ki Khees – From A-One Gradu , a local delicacy made with grated Corn, tempered with mustard seeds, seasoned with masala and lemon juice and garnished with chopped coriander and radish. The sweetness of corn blends beautifully with the tang of lemon and spices. Gives a unique flavor.
Kulfi – From Prakash Kulfi Faluda,. One could wrap up the walk with a Tilla Kulfi from this cart. He serves various flavours but I stuck to my favourite Kesar Pista which was quite tasty and refreshing. This outlet also serves various varieties of Rabri and Faluda.
This was my longest post in all these years. Couldn’t help as it would not have been good on my part to leave out any one. And yet, I am sure, this list is not complete. If you have your favourite places to eat in Indore, do let me know. Would love to visit those during my next trip. Till then…
Bon Appetite !!
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