On the very first day of our stay in
, we found a thela under a large banyan tree diagonally opposite the Durga temple where we had some pani puris and hot tikiyas. Varanasi
[ Chaat push cart diagonally opposite
] Durga Temple
We tasted similar flavors at Deena chaat (Deenanath Kesari) at Nariyal Galli near Chowk. One unique item which I had never tasted before was the ‘Tamatar (Tomato) Chaat’. Served in kulhads, it is a mixture of thick tomato gravy (simmering on a hot tawa), chhole, peas, onions, a range of spices thrown in along with a number of different chutneys and a good squeeze of lime, topped with farsan and coriander. Its sweet, sour, spicy tang dances on the tongue and I will definitely recommend it if you happen to be at this place. They also have Chuda matar (poha and peas with dryfruits - completely different from the kanda poha my mother makes at home), Spinach papdi chaat and Gulab jamuns besides the regular chaat fare.
[ Deena Chaat ]
[ Tamatar Chaat at Deena ]
One word of caution, however, is that most of the roadside chaats are prepared in Dalda, Vanaspati Ghee which can be hazardous (besides being unhygienic, of course) to ones health. So be careful and think twice before gorging.
Those having a sweet tooth need not worry either. There are a number of old sweetshops near and around the chowk area like the Madhur Jalpan, Ram Bhandar near Thatheri Bazaar and Shri RajBandhu in Kachori Galli to name a few. Shri RajBandhu situated in the lane leading to Manikarnika ghat, had a wide variety of sweets. We, however, purchased the famed Lal Pedas for our friends and relatives back home. What's more, they also had samosas and kachoris claimed to be cooked in Pure Desi Ghee. Though they were a little expensive than its roadside counterpart, they tasted much better and were definitely worth the extra bucks.
[ Famed Lal Pedas at Shri RajBandhu ]
Bread of Life bakery at Shivala Ghat started by a German was probably the first bakery in
. Bread here is prepared in their very own bakery minus any chemicals. Visit here for their fresh chocolate cakes or muffin pancakes with maple syrup, croissants, fruit buns, pizzas and sandwiches. Mostly frequented by foreigners, do drop in here if you appreciate value for money with regard to quality, hygiene and cleanliness. Varanasi
[ Bread of Life bakery ]
Two things I strongly recommend you to bring back from
are the Gajak (a dry sweet, made of sesame/til seeds) and the Achaar (pickle). There are a number of shops selling gajak in the Chowkhamba lane and we took it from a shop (no name) just below the pole. The gajak tasted really nice and we regretted having bought just one box back home from Varanasi . Varanasi
[ Gajaks at Chowkhamba ]
You can find 3 to 4 old shops- Sitaram, Suresh, Siyaram - in the lane leading to Dashashwamedh Ghat selling achaars, morabbas pickled in mustard, special papads made of potatoes and also curd based papads …. all of them self-prepared by them. Their ‘Mix Achaar’, which lasts for as long as one year, is the pick of all the above items.
[ Papads, Achaars near Dashashwamedh Ghat ]