Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Tastes of UP

Malaiyo- Varanasi
These days the social media is full of recipes and food displays of all kinds. This takes me back to my days in college when I spent some time travelling in parts of the country for training as well as on the educational trips. There were not many variations of food as one sees now.  The best one could think of for a change was savouring Italian pizzas and burgers at Nirulas and some Chinese joints for Hakka noodles, spring rolls or sweet and sour variants. This post is not about the different international cuisines or the lack of them but exploring the local food on the streets of the towns in India. That was perhaps the first brush with all what I could see and eat with the limited pocket money those days.
Poori Subzi of Allahabad
I will take you on a virtual trip to some of these places to flavour the local foods. One of the best memories is of Allahabad where I spent almost a semester( six months) when four of us classmates had rented a small house from a family who were very kind. After a few initial hiccups we located a small joint who charged a nominal monthly rate for providing us with a simple dinner of a dal, a vegetable, pickles and chappatis. The quality was fair and the food just about manageable. The breakfast and lunch were taken care of in the canteen of the factory for six days in a week, located at the tiny town of Naini. During the weekends we explored and found two or three places that were heavenly for food that was very reasonable. The cost was always a concern as none of us wanted to stretch our shoestring budget. Among them was the Indian Coffee House located at the Civil Lines which churned out the best dosas and coffee and was invariably crowded with lawyers and civil servants besides students from the Allahabad University. Then, we found a small hideout located on the second floor of the crowded Bairhana market. He would prepare poories, aloo bhaji, pumpkin, brinjals vegetables, boondi raita and sweet boondis. The food was so delicious and filling that every time we visited it, we relished it more than ever. Just before we left Allahabad he hiked the cost almost one and a half times due to the spurt in the demand.
Another, place which is the Mecca of food is Varanasi where we landed after a sleepless night in a very crowded train from Allahabad. We headed straight for the Dashashwamedh Ghat on the banks of Ganga. It was very refreshing and the hunger pangs gripped us. A short walk to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple through the stone cobbled narrow alleyways was noisy. There were vendors selling 'Malaiyo' a fluffy whipped fresh cream delicacy. It was a heavenly treat after a dip in the Ganga and having paid obeisance to Lord Shiva. We then headed to Lanka where the market was packed with crowds in the morning. The smell of Jalebis, Kachori, Aloo bhaji and sweet Lassi was working like a magnet. The kachoris and jalebis melted in the mouth leaving a tingling taste. In fact, the number of options for sweets and savouries is so huge that it is difficult to make up the mind.
Chaat -Varanasi
There are vendors that sell 'bhang' which is a hot favourite but we decided to skip it to avoid feeling dizzy right in the morning. During the day we explored the city, including the BHU, various temples and even went to the Sarnath. A very memorable day. The lunch was a simple meal and the evening was wrapped up with amazing 'Chaat' and a Banarsi pan. We took the train back to Allahabad in the evening.
Peda -Mathura
Among the best food items I can suggest are the 'small samosas' of Kanpur, innumerable sweets, chaat, lassi and Peda of Mathura, Petha and Dalmoth of Agra,  Kababs and sweets of Lucknow.

During the winter months, Rewari and Gajjak( prepared from Til and Jaggery) are available in every town of Western UP and each one is different from another so they have their own distinct identity.

There is still so much more to eat and see in the UP and other parts of the country. I will share some more foodie adventures in the future posts as no journey can be complete without the aromas and taste of food

PS- Pics Kind Courtesy Google


  1. Awesome description and great pics!
    I am always ready for food :) UP has wonderful choices. It's very much on my list! Chaat, Lassi & lots more!
    Vegetarian dishes and sweets are an added attraction.
    Stay safe. Take care.

    1. Thanks a lot, Anita for that kind comment.Am happy you liked the post. Stay safe and stay happy!

  2. Sheesh, I'm so hungry now and it's past midnight. Thanks Rahul for the delicious blog post and walking us through your life.

    Hope you have been well and happy.

    1. So good tro see you here , Susan! Am happy I could ignite your hunger pangs. Hope you are well too!

  3. Wow such a wonderful post. It's been in my wish list to visit all these places abd try the local cuisines of each and every place. Simply loved the description and relished the food through the awesome pics :)

    1. Many thanks, Ira for your sweet comment. There are so many places and each having so much specialities tha a life time is not enough to explore these:)