Eating out at Indore

I recently visited Indore, the commercial capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh. Indore is possibly the food capital too. Of all the highlights of the visit, eating blurs out all other memories!  Indians are overly fond of snacks and sweets and at Indore more so.

I had taken the Duronto Express train from Mumbai to Indore. The cheerful looking colorful train set the mood for a fun visit and I was not disappointed. I reached Indore at about 11 a.m and was welcomed by family with steaming chai,warm jalebis and ‘Alu Kachoris’ and Poha.  After this heavy meal, I was surprisingly hungry in about a couple of hours again and ready to eat!

I am told the ‘Indore ki hawa’ or atmosphere at Indore is naturally stimulating to eat more and food gets digested faster! Well, I don’t think I disagree as I almost always had room for more for each of the meals and the variety of food I had.

One of the highlights and must-do’s of Indore is a visit to Sarafa. Sarafa is an area in the old town on Indore near the Rajwada or palace of the Holkars. Originally a market of jewelers, Sarafa is now known as the foodie bazaar. Late in the evening at 9 p.m when businesses start closing down, jewelers down their shutters, Sarafa starts getting festive. Smells of gulab jamun, and hot frying oil start wafting and appetites are aroused.   Traditional ‘Chaat’ houses open and sweet sellers sit with their huge assortments of freshly made gulab jamuns, rabdi, kalakand and malpuas.  One can see people gorging on ‘Kachoris’, ‘Samosas’ and ‘Tikkis’. Along side the traditional chaat places, a slew of cuisines have set up shop in the form of Indo chinese stalls, Sandwiches and Pizza stalls.

For the uninitiated, NRIs or foreigners, it is hard to actually explain what ‘Chaat’ is. Well, Chaat is a variety of food that encompasses a range of savories that are usually sold at roadside stalls.  Most savories also have a motley of ingredients in them with a variety of spicy sauces.  Some popular ‘Chaat’ varieties in Indore are –

  • ‘Samosa’ chaat – Samosas are dough stuffed with a spicy potato filling in triangular shapes and fried. Accompanied by a chick pea gravy, onions, coriander and tomatoes, makes it a ‘chaat’!
  • Dahi vadas – Vadas are fried savories that can be made of many varieties of flours. Fried and then dunked into yoghurt sprinkled with chilli ‘chutney’ and tamarind chutney makes for delicious dahi vadas
  • Pani puri – Known by various names in different parts of the country, Pani puri is one of the most popular dishes found at the roadside stall. Thin hollow dough crispies are stuffed slightly with a potato or boiled chick pea filling and dunked in sweet and sour spicy water, one at a time. Each individual stuffed puri is eaten whole at a time.
  • Alu Tikkis – Potatoes are a favorite ingredient for all chats. Mashed potatoes roled into balls or chopped potatoes, are deepfried, sprinkled with spices and served hot.
  • Papdi chaat – Dough crispies, this time flat, are know as papdi or puri again. Loaded with potatoes, onions, puffed rice and some sauces and ‘sev’ make for a papdi chat.
  • Kachori -Kachoris are round dough balls stuffed with ‘masalas’ and some base ingredient of mashed peas or lentils or potatoes. Kachoris can be eaten dry or with the usual chat accompaniments of onions, tomatoes, coriander, ‘sev’ and chutneys.

Bustle at ‘Samosa’ chaat house

Frying Kachoris

Namkeen Sev

Well, chaat is ubiquitous in all of India, but Indore certainly had a fabulous ambiance that made us want bite into sweet and spicy savories.

Apart from the chat and the roadside stalls, Indore is also very famous for its ‘Namkeen’. Namkeen is a term given to long lasting savories made of flour and subtly flavored with cloves, garlic and several spices.

Even more tantalizing at Sarafa were the sweets that were sold openly. Mostly made in pure ‘desi’ ghee, even looking at them was a feast to the eyes.  You can get notably jalebis, imartis, gulab jamuns, malpuas, rabdi, kulfi, kalakand, and cold or hot drinks made of milk. A unique drink was known as ‘Shikanji’ which was a veritable mix of all the goodness in milky form there can be! Shikanji is made of evaporated milk, rabdi, shrikhand, and dry fruits making it very delicious.  With the advent of winter, a host of other goodies such as mattar or pea kachoris, ‘gajaks’ and hot milk products are also available and must-eats!

Delicious Gulab Jamuns in Sarafa Bazaar

Milky goodness – Rabdi and Kalakand

Moong Dal Halwa in Desi Ghee

My favorite! – Piping hot Malpuas dripping with ghee

Apart from Sarafa, another popular hang out  for youngsters in Indore is ‘Chappan Bazaar’ which originally consisted of chappan or fifty six shops.  Although the variety of food was similar to that of Sarafa, the feel of the place was new and less charming as compared to Sarafa.

One would think we would end up with upset stomachs at the end of all that feasting, but thankfully, we all returned well satiated. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I soon have a chance to go back again just for those steaming hot kachoris and melting-in-the-mouth malpuas.

If you were to visit Indore, some suggested places and food are –

At Sarafa –

  • Alu Patis at Vijay Chat
  • Dal Kachori near Vijay Chat
  • Rabdi at Bhairavnath
  • Jalebi and Malpua near the end of Sarafa near Bhairavnath

Some non Sarafa and Chappan Bazaar places are

  • Aspee on Racecourse road for ‘Mirchina’ a local drink not unlike a spiced up Coke but milder and Icecream Soda
  • Hira Lassi – near Shri Krishna Talkies
  • Ravi’s Aloo Kachori – Anand Bazaar
  • Damu Anna’s Kachori at Sikh Muhalla

My advice if you are planning a trip to Indore is to be that glutton you always wanted to be and have a feast!

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Categories: India, Madhya Pradesh | Tags: , , , , | 30 Comments

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30 thoughts on “Eating out at Indore

  1. Lovely yummy post, Richa! I too have feasted on most of these savories and agree that no place like Sarafa, in Indore! Next time try out Ram babu ke parathe too:)

    • I am going back in December and totally looking forward to winter feasts! Will check out the Parathe then. Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. Lip smacking Post :)

  3. wow !! the pics look real tempting enough for me to go to a nearby chaat shop & have gulab jamun and chole puris !!

  4. Amruta

    wow you have aptly extolled the gustatory delights of indore.Indore, has been known as the land of the khavvaiyyas(foodies).Next time when you visit us will have more planned visits to such place(hope i can join u ) and also the delicious home made speciality of my mom n kaki.

    be ready for more food items which u were not able to enjoy in this visit and also which are winter specials.

    Keep roaming and eating :)

    • OMG! There was so much I ate in this trip and you tell me there are more delights that await me in winter! Already smacking my lips in anticipation of a December visit! My compliments to your Mom and Kaki for all the delicacies they served us in this trip too. I look forward to the next with you!

  5. Awesome post. Loved reading every bit of it. Our older cities have so much food heritage, all available to the common man on the streets. The five stars serve a poor imitation of all this :(

    • Thanks so much for visiting Sangeeta. No five star could match the brilliance of freshly made warm gulab jamuns and other delicacies in that wonderful ambiance! I could hog my heart out in the bazaar there!

  6. Milind

    Great post Richa ! Appreciate your keen observations of the day -to -day and very common events / experiences in life.
    We can never appreciate and pen down such things despite experiencing frequently. Trave and post your experiences ( mind your weight too).

    The visuals of this blog are too tempting and almost 3Dimensional :).

    • Knowing the sweet tooth you have, I am quite sure you are drooling at those luscious images! Thanks for appreciating the blog ;). Thankfully i don’t stay at Indore or I would certainly have had a hard time watching those calories!

  7. milind mk

    Great post Richa ! Appreciate your keen observations of the day -to -day and very common events / experiences in life.
    We can never appreciate and pen down such things despite experiencing frequently. Trave and post your experiences ( mind your weight too).

    The visuals of this blog are too tempting and almost 3Dimensional :).

    ________________________________

  8. Yummy treat it was reading the post… Loved it absolutely… the pics are great!

  9. A foodie’s delight! That is what your post about Indore is. Those Gulab Jamuns make a perfect sight.

  10. Opps ! Am so hungry ! Have heard so much about the Pohe of Indore .. planning to make an eating trip there very soon :)

    • With their secret spices and their perfect softness, Indore folks do know how to get their pohe right! Let me know if you manage that trip. I ll have a lot of new suggestions from my next trip :)

  11. 22arti

    Yum, yum, yum! Wonderful food guide, Richa very well presented! I will have all of this the day I step in Indore! Till then let me just scroll back up and savor it all here!

  12. In MP, they call pani puris as phulkis and the stuffing is different too, isn’t it? I love all the sweets you have shown, especially kalakand! So when are you coming to Delhi? It is the gastronomical capital of India :D

    • I simply love that Pani puris are known by so many different names. The stuffing is a bit different – it is more pulses based rather than potatoes. The Kalakand I had there was so perfectly sweet and delightful to the senses really. Will plan a Delhi trip soon just to eat :).

  13. So so may things missing here :-) you need a good guide on your next visit :-)

  14. Wonderful Sharing !

  15. Hii..
    Came to your blog when I was looking for chaat places in Indore..loved your post..Just one question..I always thought Shikanji is Indian nimbupani..or lemonade..but you have mentioned here something else..Can you please give me some more details..thanks :)

    • Shikanji is a milk based drink and not water based like nimbu pani. It contains all the milky goodies you can think of. The variant I had consisted of a blend of evaporated milk, shrikhand, plenty of dry fruits and cream. Very fatty and very delicious!

  16. Dhirendra Negi

    I heard at Indore in some food court recently bade saab ke pohe has become big hit. Could anyone please give me the information / address so that I can eat poha there?

  17. xyz

    ah ..!! thank go … I just enjoyed reading this page … we are planning to visit indore .. I will surely not forget to eat all these things … thank you ..!!! …:)

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