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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Mathura-A Foodie Delight

After a train ride of just over two hours from Delhi we reached Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna. There are several trains and buses that take 2 to 3 hours to reach the place. Mathura is an important railway junction where several trains heading to all parts of the country pass through. In the morning hours, the station was not too crowded. A beeline of auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws accost the incoming travellers to take them to their destinations.  A rickshaw to Holi Gate in the heart of the city is the best place to start exploring the town. This post is not about a trip to visit the temples, museum and other attractions strewn all around Mathura but about the food and gastronomic delights that one can experience here.
 As the rickshaw winds through the narrow roads and gullies, the innumerable cows keep the company, constantly reminding of the love Lord Krishna had for them.

The sight of huge cauldrons of boiling milk, earthenware utensils full of fresh curd and different sweets prepared by small shopkeepers en-route is not unusual. After about twenty minutes of the ride, we reached the Holi Gate which is in the heart of the city. The traffic was gradually building up and constant tinkering of bells and honking added to the din in the street. An early morning vegetable market was in full bloom and the vendors were selling the fresh produce grown around the banks of the river Yamuna. Seldom will you see such freshness in cities where most of us live!

There are several small shops around Holi Gate that sell Namkeen ranging from Besan Sev, Chips, fried peanuts and several other mostly freshly prepared and their aroma attracts many buyers. A family favourite is a small Gujarati shop selling Tam Tam Dhokla, a much spicier cousin of the Dhokla most of us have known and enjoyed.

As we entered the Holi Gate a huge banner of one of the most prominent sweet shop, Brijwasi, greeted us. It is perhaps one of the biggest shops in the town with a constant flow of people. The range of sweets from Pedas, different varieties of barfi prepared from, dry fruits like Kaju, Badam, Chocolate, all kinds of Namkeen, Dhokla, Samosas, Milk flavoured with Badam, Kesar and Pista, Imarti and a mind-boggling range greeted us. The tempting sight had triggered the brain to send signals to olfactory senses and taste buds for the incoming onslaught that awaited. It is very difficult to pick and choose having been spoilt for choices. In a few random selections, it was very difficult to judge which one overtook another selection in terms of ratings, never below 'Excellent'!

Across the road, there are twin shops selling just Jalebi( prepared in Pure Ghee) and Kachori with Aloo Subzi. The length of the queue is an indication of their popularity. The golden brown crisp kachoris come out piping hot from the boiling hot oil in  'kadhai'(cauldron) and are served with a very tangy 'Aloo sabzi'. Do not forget to have a bite of Jalebi equally crisp till it melts in the mouth without a trace, except the salivating taste buds, asking for more.

We kept walking down the street towards Dwarkadessh temple and the number of varieties of sweet shops left us bewildered. Surprisingly there are virtually no medicine shops but many 'Churan' shops that offer a dazzling array of 'Churans'. The Anardana Churan & Hing Vatti are a recommended must buy!

Near the Dwarkadeesh temple, there are many tea vendors that prepare 'cardamom and ginger' tea which is served in an earthen glass called 'Kullar' a use and throw traditional glass. The aroma of wet earth and the flavour of the tea gets etched forever.

The bank of River Yamuna is adjacent to the temple and a trip by boat is highly recommended to admire the riverfront. The old bridge reminiscent of the British era provides a magnificent view,  silhouetting the sprawling green field on the bank of Yamuna. There are many temples around the ghats where the priests perform the rituals while commoners take a holy dip in the river.

On stepping out of the boat, we moved along the bank of the river next to the ghats. A wide array of shops ranging from trinket sellers, 'bhang'(an intoxicant drink), chaat( Golgappa, Dahi Vada, Aloo Tikki and many others abound. Also, there is a more than 100-year-old shop, 'Gusain Sweets" that prepares some amazing traditional 'Pedas' ' Malai Khurchan' among many savouries.

How the time flew we did not realize till we noticed the setting Sun. It is time to witness the Yamuna Arti at Vishram Ghat, a unique devotional experience amidst the huge rush of devotees, the sound of conch shells and ringing bells. Anyone still left with an appetite for dinner should head to 'Shankar Sweets' near Holi Gate, after circumambulating around the town. There is a big variety of food but the most popular is a 'Thali' comprising of Aloo Sabzi, Boondi Raita, Pumpkin vegetable, Pooris and pickles.

It will be an understatement that all the highlights of the best foods have been covered in the town.
After having made more than 50 trips in almost as many years I am still discovering new places and new things to eat in the town. If you have not yet tried, do make a trip to explore the bylanes of Mathura for some more hidden gems that I have missed.

PS: Images Kind Courtesy Google


5 comments:

  1. This is a great guide to the gastronomical delights in Mathura. These places sound like they have stood the test of time.
    The next time you are there, you should take lots of pictures. We'd love a photo feature of the food there. :)

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    1. Sure Divya! Thanks for reading and next time will surely take a lot of pictures!

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  2. What a mouthwatering post! These are all traditional food shops that have been going strong since ages. I so want to have that Thali at Shankar Sweets.

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    1. A big thanks Shilpa! Try you must and will not be disappointed.

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  3. My mouth is watering. I really would love to visit Mathura one day. Also because Krishna is one of my favourites.

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