What comes first to your mind when I talk about Jodhpur?? Although I’m not a haruspex or having any kind of psychic or telepathic powers but still I can guess, there in your mind is a picture of an historical old royal city having azure abodes a massive fort overlooking it like a silent but watchful guardian. You can feel a sense of royalty in the air that still envelopes the city like a enchantment in time. Beware..!! lest this aura influence your understanding of Jodhpur only as a royal remnant. Come, take a walk along the alleys of the city with me and a whole new world of culinary delights will welcome you in myriad flavours and aromas. Believe me Jodhpur is a paradise for street food lovers. Jodhpur cuisines are all about spices, chilly, ghee (clarified butter) and a rich assortment of sweets and the best place to enjoy them, and that too without making a big hole in your pocket, are not the plethora of luxury hotels located in the city but the local eateries and food joints. There are many joints where one can enjoy delicious street foods at a throw away price.
Epicentre of the all these mouthwatering cuisines is the Sardar Market area. Be it omelette or tea or Indian snacks, every thing for satisfying you appetite is available here. We start our journey from step-well side gate of Sardar Market.
The name which tops the list is the famous omelette shop at the gate of Sardar Market (other than Nai Sadak side). It has now become something of a legend. The father and son duo have been serving absolutely delicious and cheap omelettes from the same stall for over 40 years! This shop is equally liked by the domestic as well as foreigner tourists. One can recognise the shop by high stack of eggs crates and many tourists sitting and enjoying the omelettes. They have a variety of different flavours on offer – from the basic ‘plain’ all the way up to the ‘Maharaja’ or ‘Ali Baba’. I can personally recommend the masala butter cheese omelette – an absolute steal at ₹60.
Just opposite to this shop there is one tea stall, which serve really good tea for just ₹10. Sipping hot ginger tea in Kulhad (earthen pot) is a must try.
As you reach to the opposite gate of Sardar market (Nai Sadak side), there is one Shri Mishrilal Hotel, a sweet shop which is almost 100 years old. If you have a sweet-tooth like me then definitely this is a place for you.
Their famous signature Lassi is worth the hype – it’s no wonder that is a TripAdvisor favourite! It is a rich, succulent drink with a classic regal overtone. The Lassi at Shri Mishrilal Hotel are so special that they even have their own name: Makhaniya Lassi, which is flavoured purely from the curd and some delicate spices like cardamom. They also include milk, sugar and kewda (a kind of edible essence); but without adding water that results in extremely thick and creamy Lassi. Add a dollop of white butter (curd butter) on top and you’re all set to try this super tasty lassi. And this is just a beginning. You ought to enjoy the famous Mava Kachori, which is round shaped pastry fried in ghee or oil, filled with dry-fruits and soaked in sugar syrup.
Now lets cross the gates of Sardar Market and here we reached Shahi Samosa shop. Perhaps this stuffed fried golden triangular delicacy of northern India is a weakness of everyone. Adapted by many languages, the word ‘Samosa’ is enough to fill your mouth with saliva.
Renowned traveller Ibn-e-Batuta once described Samosa as “minced meat cooked with almonds, pistachios, onions and spices placed inside a thin envelop of wheat and deep-fried in ghee.” Samosas used to be a symbol of royal dining back in those days. Now it is the most favoured evening snack with tea in India.
Simply the best Samosa you’ll have in the whole of India. I have never had any better Samosa than these. Seriously, I’d really like to know if you find a better one. There’s always a crowd outside, and for good reason – they’re hot, they’re fresh, and they’re damn tasty and completely vegetarian costing just ₹18 each! The shop is open from 10 am to 10 pm. Anytime of day is fine to check out Shahi Samosa as they’re constantly making fresh batches.
Just adjacent to this shop, there is one Arora Chat Bhandar, this place specialises in savoury Indian snacks called Chats. I had Palak (spinach) Chat for the first time and really found it very tasty.
They offer a whole range of different chats but by far the most popular is one called Dahi Vada which is deep fried balls of lentil flour (vadas) soaked in thick yoghurt (dahi). It’s topped with spices, chutneys & more yoghurt, then decorated to perfection and garnished with fresh finely chopped coriander leaves and/or crispy dried snacks.
Now as we roam a little further, there is one shop selling Dal Bati Churma which a local delicacy of Rajasthan. Exploring Rajasthan is incomplete without trying Daal Bati churma. Every city has its own style of preparing Dal Bati. You may find many shops selling really tasty Dal Bati Churma.
Moving towards the end of Nai Sadak, on your right, there is Janta Sweet Home Pvt. Ltd. This is a huge branch running over different locations in Jodhpur. It is famous for sweets, snacks and fresh juice counter. There are fast food items too. Onion Kachori and Mawa Kachori are famous here.
As Jodhpur is famous for various types of ‘namkeens’ (snacks), we already had plans to purchase a few. After stopping at 2-3 shops for tasting them to get the best of all, our taste buds said okay at ‘Prajapat namkeen’. We bought ourselves at least 7-8 varieties. ‘Heeng sev’ were the best of all. We would have purchased some more, but the strolleys were saying a big NO.
Way off the beaten tourist track is this no-frills eatery that’s a real hit with the locals; if you didn’t know what lay inside I won’t blame you for walking straight past! At the first sight you might overlook this restaurant but once you have tasted the meals here, you will be going to remember the place for a long. It is a typical small-sized eatery with a minimalistic set up that you may be weary of venturing into at first. This tiny restaurant is located near Mahatma Gandhi hospital.
Shandar Sweet House is more than just a sweet-mart, and that every dish is extremely rich in flavour. That is because they use pure ghee (clarified butter) in most of their cooking. All the dishes at Shandar Sweet House are incredibly tasty! It is famous for snacks, light meal and ghee sweets. The menu may be limited but taste is not. You should try Gulab Jamun ki Sabzi! Jodhpuri Gulab Jamun Ki Sabzi is a traditional Rajasthani dish where the gulab jamuns are deep fried and dipped in gravy made from tomatoes and cashew nuts, resulting in a savoury kofta-like dish instead of the classic Indian sweet. If you want to savour the real flavours of the authentic Gulab Jamun ki Sabzi, Shandar Restaurant is your go-to destination. You ought to try Dahi Wada, Lahsun dal and Gatta curry of this restaurant. Usually waiting time is 20-30 min. here which may increase on weekends and holidays. We visited this place twice for our dinner and had to wait for approx 20 min both days before we even got seated. We tried Paneer ki Sabzi, Malai Kofta, Lahsun Dal, Lassi there and I am falling short of words to describe the taste.
Why settle for just dal-bati when you can have churma, gatte ki sabzi, Rajasthani kadhi, Wadi, Panchmel Dal, Papad ki Sabzi, Ker Sangri, Rotla and Khichdi along with Raitas, Chaach, Thandai, Lassi, Malpua, Imarti and more on a single platter. Located in the middle of a busy market, the Gypsy Restaurant offers such a lavish array of local cuisine with true Rajasthani flavour, that preferring one dish over another can be quite a daunting task. The Rajasthani Thali here is the answer for your hunger. A sincere advice: skip breakfast and head here directly for lunch.
As we were roaming in a December night taking in the crisp winter air, and were looking for some hot drink to warm ourselves up, we took a halt at Sojati Gate, where Kadhai wala Doodh or Kesar Doodh is widely available which makes for the perfect accompaniment to late winter evenings.
Kadhai wala Doodh is made from milk simmered over low flame for hours, along with ground almonds, pistachios, cashews and saffron. The milk is simmered in wide-bottom woks or kadhai and is constantly stirred, so as to avoid being burnt. It is best enjoyed in a kulhad, topped with generous spoonful of malai (milk cream) and garnished with nuts. Two shops are famous here which serve really yum milk – ‘ Doodh Mandir’ and ‘Doodh Bhandar’.
Apart from the street food, Jodhpur has a number of restaurants in the old city as well as new city where you can find regular food items ranging from Indian, Chinese and Continental. The more you explore, the more wonders you’ll come across. Exploring Jodhpur is a delight for your eyes and a feast for your taste-buds.