Varanasi A Gastronomic Trail

The street food delicacies of Varanasi are a melting pot of flavours
A street food stall selling lassi in Varanasi
A street food stall selling lassi in Varanasi

Varanasi is essentially known as a pilgrimage hub where people come to pay their respect to the holy waters of the Ganga to wash away their sins and attain &lsquomoksha&rsquo (salvation). However, this ancient town is also a foodie&rsquos paradise where traditional delicacies attract people from all over the world. From the delectable kachori sabzi to the sinful malaiyyo, the tantalising tamatar chaat, and the refreshing flavoured lassis - myriad options exist to unravel the treasured treats for a food experience like no other.

My trip to Varanasi was all about capturing the true essence of this prehistoric town, which is said to be older than tradition and history itself. Varanasi is unique and magical due to its rich culture and diverse attractions. After exploring the city and all that it had to offer, I decided to set aside a day exclusively to savour the delicious street food found in the labyrinth of the narrow streets here.

Delectable Kachori Sabzi and Jalebi at Ram Bhandar, Thatheri Bazaar

I decided to begin my day with the irresistible Kachori Sabzi, which is the most popular breakfast in all of Varanasi - piping hot sabzi made with potatoes and chickpeas flavoured with unique spices and served with freshly fried poori or kachoris. Though you can find it all over the city, Ram Bhandar is the most popular outlet for this spicy and tangy treat.

Sinful Malaiyyo at Shreeji Sweets & Milk, Dashashwamedh Road

Meandering through the narrow lanes of Kashi, admiring the beautiful graffiti on the walls, I reached Shreeji Sweets & Milk, famous for its milk delicacy, popularly known as Malaiyyo. This saffron-infused sweet, frothy milk topped with dollops of fresh cream, served in an earthen pot or Kulhad, and garnished with almonds, saffron, and pistachios is a winter-special dessert here. Many small stalls sell this visually appealing and sinfully tasty treat, but Shreeji Sweets & Milk is simply the best

Lassies Galore at Blue Lassi, Kachori Gali

Satiated with yummy delicacies, I enquired about the world-famous Blue Lassi. I was yet to see a lassi shop like this - a small space painted in blue with the walls covered in passport-size images and hand-written notes of visitors from all over the world. This 92-year-old lassi shop enjoys an excellent reputation and boasts of a menu with more than 75 varieties of lassis. The popular favourites are saffron lassi, blueberry lassi, banana lassi, pomegranate lassi and for the chocolate aficionados, the Oreo Lassi is a must-try.

Temping Tamatar Chaat at Kashi Chat Bhandar, Godowlia Road

Tantalize your taste buds with a unique snack - Tamatar Chaat. A mixture of mashed boiled tomatoes and potatoes served with onion, green chillies, and coriander- it is genuinely a distinctive concoction. Being a lover of spicy food, I was immediately tempted by this delicacy. The place is a veritable gold mine of innovative and mouth-watering dishes like the Palak Papadi Chaat, Chena Dahi Vada, and Dahi Chutney Golgappe.

Chooda Matar at Deena Chaat Bhandar near Dashashwamedh Ghat

For those of you looking for a healthy snack, Chooda Matar is a wonderful option. This Benarasi version of the quintessential Poha is made with flattened rice soaked in ghee and stir-fried with fresh green peas and spices. What makes it unique are the add-ons of milk or cream with raisins and saffron.

There is so much more to try at this foodie&rsquos haven, like the Malai toast at Lakshmi Chaiwale, Banarasi Paan at Gama Paan shop, and the famous Varanasi sweet-Jalebi Rabri, to name a few. The gastronomical delights of Varanasi add to the incredible allure and never-ending charm of this ancient town which any self-respecting foodie must experience.

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