Indore: The street food Capital of India

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India might be a collage of different cultures and their respective traditions, but what binds us together is food. Irrespective of our backgrounds, we always find food connecting us on a very humane level. And major cities and their respective culinary diversity contribute to such togetherness. Take Indore for example. This historic city, driven by centuries of royalty, has nothing regal in its cuisine and yet, it is officially the street food capital of the country. Otherwise unassuming in its lifestyle, like the metropolises, Indore packs a punch with the most varied food that you will ever discover. Because, nowhere else in the country will you find vendors doling out flavorful dishes in the middle of the night, only to satisfy the ever hungry souls!

Food in Indore is not just a gastronomic need. It is a pilgrimage, at least for the foodies. The city’s culinary heritage draws major elements from its neighbors like Rajasthan and Gujarat, with a heavy influence from erstwhile Maharashtra. While you might not notice the powerful legacies of the Mughals or the finer elements of European flair or even the British heritage, Indore’s food is a magical milieu of everything in its own individual way.

What to eat and where

While there are a host of trending and new-age eateries satiating the taste buds of millennials, you will only find the real flavors of the city in the Old Sarafa Bazaar. The streets here are lined with 56 odd shops, each serving ethnic recipes, some of which you would have never heard of! Locally called Chappan Dukan, this stretch comes alive at sundown and fills you with myriad colors, flavors, aromas, and sounds.

The best way to experience this is to book an affordable taxi in Indore Savaari cabs and go shop hopping, stopping at the best places to sample the most iconic dishes that this royal city has in store.

Here’s what to indulge in:

Poha and Jalebi, Young Tarang

Forget your complimentary hotel breakfast and show up at this eatery for a hearty serving of steaming hot poha paired with jalebis. The soft poha with crunchy toppings of sev (a local specialty) fits perfectly with the sweetness of jalebis. Even Maharashtrians swear by the Indori version. And when at Young Tarang, also try their crispy aloo kachoris, a takeaway from Marwar but with an absolutely Indori taste.

Dahi Bada, Joshi Dahi Bada House

What’s unique about this eatery is not the dahi bada per se but the way they serve it. If you like a little theatrics with food, do pay Mr. Joshi a visit and watch him in awe as he flings the fried dumplings in the air, drops them in chilled yogurt and sprinkles his magical concoction of spices. And he has earned quite a fame on television shows with his tricks.

Bhutte Ka Kees, Joshi Dahi Bada House

This is an Indian (rather Indori) version of the western girts. Corn kernels are boiled and mashed, then spiced with fennel, cumin, and dried mango powder, and garnished with grated coconut. And no one makes these as Joshi’s.

Dal Bafla, Swadisht Samosa Corner

Also called khatta samosas, this is nothing like the traditional samosa. Rather a softer sibling of the Rajasthani dal-baati, these roundels of wheat are made tangy with spices and yogurt and boiled in water before being baked in the tandoor.

Shikanji, Nagori Sweets

This creamier, milkier drink will make you forget its north Indian synonym. Nagori Sweets makes the best Indori Shikanji with condensed milk and lots of dried fruits and nuts.

Egg Benjo, Johnny Hotdogs

The only non-vegetarian eatery among 56 vegetarian places, Johhny serves this sinfully greasy version of omelet and bread. Egg banjo is a spicy omelet sandwiched in a soft bun and fried in oil. Feel free to customize it with meat or veggies.

Khopra Patties, Vijay Chaat House

Indore’s own invention, these are fried potatoes with coconut filling and dunked in red and green chutneys. As you get some food sweat from the hot spices, take a break with some of their traditional sweets like shrikhand, rabri, or ras malai.

Garadu

If you are visiting in winter, then you will find garadu everywhere. These small cubes of yam are fried and sprinkled with chaat masala, making it a warm snack for the cold days.

Jaleba

The bigger, stronger, and juicier version of the quintessential jalebi, the Jaleba is exclusive to Indore. The syrupy insides and the crunchy outer shell leaves a heavenly taste on your palate and makes for a perfect ending to an exhaustive food tour.

The streets of Indore are like an enchanting maze. As much as you will be full to your capacity after sampling everything on display, you are sure to stay hungry for more. Get a comfortable and reliable car on rent in Indore with Savaari (for those resting periods between meals) and go out on a food trail that runs through the city’s veins and ends in ultimate sensory pleasure.