Varanasi is the oldest living ancient city and the spiritual capital of India, that draws Hindu pilgrims to wash away their sins in the Ganges River’s sacred waters to wash away their sins and perform funeral rites. Along the city’s winding streets routes some around 2,000 temples, including the famous Kashi Vishwanath, the “Golden Temple,” dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. This city is also rich in ancient literature and variety of food. The city has beautiful hue of diverse spiritualism, philosophy and mysticism for thousands of years.
People from around the world come here to attain peace or for spiritual enlightenment and some come for food. If you are hardcore foodie seeking for some real food which not only fills your stomach also touches the soul. With the simplicity and pure tasty wholesome food which is only available in Varanasi gullies, where I visited by following recommendations from friends, internet and books.
I started exploring the hidden gems in these gullies and my first stop was a perfect breakfast at Babu Lal ki kachori & jalebi famous for deep fried morsels stuffed with spicy urad daal paired with the yummiest spicy tangy aloo channa sabzi like a perfect marriage of spiciness and tanginess. It is soul satisfying and the best start of the day followed by garam jalebi crispy from outside and soft and sweet from inside. Overall it is a perfect symphony of flavours. Highly recommended!
When the start of the day is this good then it will be a superb experience altogether. Next, I was strolling around the Banarasi gullies and explored heaps of sweets, pickle preparation, kullad doodh, rabaddi and the list goes on. Lal peda and Sankatmochan ke laddu were really tasty at the peda shop adjoining Sankatmochan Hanuman temple. Another unique mithai that you will find a lot in these Varanasi gullies is jaleba — a normal jalebi in a mammoth avatar, usually 2.5Kg sold by crushing it. Other than food heaps of colourful bangles and decorative stuff.
Time for some chatpata chaat and Deena chat serves a tremendous variety of chaat but I tried lip smacking sev tamataar ki chaat which has tomato gravy with crunchy sev on top was unique with its spiciness and tanginess.
The next recommended spot is Raja Raam ki khullad lassi topped with a dollop of yoghurt and malai and a hint of rose flavour. Really heavy leads you to slumber!!!
Craving for more sweet? Raajbandhu serves tasty giant rassgolla. Being a Bengali this one really made my bong soul happy! Another sweet dish is malai gilori, a malai sheet filling of dry fruits and mawa with the shape of the paan that is why its called malai paan. Its is soft and melt in the mouth chunky paan.
If you want to have a good heavy lunch then Bati chokka at bati chokka restaurant is a highly recommended option. I was intrigued by the name of bati chokka as it was the combination of daal bati and litthi chokka. Charcoal fire litthi with variety of fillings with delicious chokka comprises of aloo and baigan bharta and various accompaniments with achar, chutneys and daal. We opted litthi choka thali which had all variety of options available. It also fulfils your health consciousness related to bati.
Varanasi is also famous for special Varanasi sarees. Silk is famous in many parts of India and Varanasi silk is one of the pioneers. The traditional Bengali saree is a red Varanasi Saree that is worn in marriages and other religious and social functions. If you are in a mood to relive the moment then Banarasi saree for retail therapy perfect peace.
Back to food. What I could not try and is highly recommendable was Pizzeria Vaatika Cafe’s famous for fresh cheese stone oven wood fired thin crust pizzas and the best apple pie in the world. The recipes are in collaboration with an Italian chef. The cafe serves pizza which is compared to pizzas in Milan and Italy. The best selling is apple pie. It is a worth taking a trip to!
Well, non-Vegetarians don’t worry! This spot is highly recommended by everyone, Taj Hotel at Dalmandi for the best chicken tikka and unforgettable mutton stew. The food out there transports you to a different level. This place is living its third generation era. The forte is to not have a lot of items in the menu. They only serve chicken tikka, stew and paratha. Bee line for food if you want to have properly, you have to inform before hand! The USP is the taste of marination in tikka, the stew was mellow and balanced subtle flavours, no garnish no fancy plating real food. Yum! When I hear the phrase the path to the men’s stomach is food is so true!
Lastly, your day can’t end without Varanasi Paan. India houses the specialities of distinct paan whether it is Maghai, Calcutta or Vanarasi paan they compete with each other for their unique flavours! Kashi Paan Bhandar is famous for Banarasi paan jo ek andaaz se khaaya jata hai which melts in your mouth. If you’re in Banaras, band akaal ka taala khule ya na khule this is a must try! It has digestive juices that help in digestion. A good end to a heavy meal.
The foodie exploration day came to an end with a Ganges River cruise around 88 Ghats and each one of them has an interesting story to say! Like all good things come to an end, my super satisfying day also came to end with a lovely Ganga aarti! So peaceful, serene and beautiful!
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