Food from Banaras

I was in Banaras, India last month. While there, I was looking forward to explore the cuisine unique to this city which has an elaborate cultural history. Banaras is famous for its temples and of course the holy river Ganges. It is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh and the agricultural land surrounding the city is very fertile and well irrigated. Not surprisingly, plenty of fruits and vegetables are available in this area in all seasons. There is plenty of cattle as well. Sweets made from cow and buffalo milk are specialities of Banaras. The breakfast here is quite unique to North India. Typically the first meal of the day is Poori-bhaji. Poori is a type of bread made by rolling wheat dough into small discs and deep frying. It is served with boiled potatoes sauteed with herbs and spices. Poori-bhaji is usually accompanied by hot delicious Jalebi, which is a sweet made by fermented dough batter fried and dipped in sugar syrup. The breakfast is quite dense and is supposed to stave off hunger for many hours on a common working day. A variety of local and seasonal vegetables are available. Potato, Parvar, Turai, eggplants are a few common ones. Due to an abundant number of cows, dairy products such as milk, yogurt, ghee are readily available and are part of regular meals. Banaras Sweet House is a very old and famous sweet shop mainly known for mithai (desserts) made from either condensed or fermented milk. I had lassi there and undoubtedly, it was the best tasting and most mind-blowing lassi I have ever had in my life. Lassi is sweet yoghurt drink native to the state of Punjab. Lassi in Banaras Sweet Shop was served in kulhad (earthern bowl) and was topped with a layer of cream. For merely Rs. 25-30 (USD 0.5), it was the most refreshing and delicious drink you can ask for. Kala-jam here is also quite tasty. It is a ball of extensively condensed milk, to the point of giving it granular texture, deep fried and dipped in sugar syrup. One lassi and kala-jam were enough to fill me up at the lunchtime. For dinners on following days, I enjoyed various seasonal vegetables served with roti and rice. One more unique thing I noticed about food from Banaras was that it is safe to eat food from everywhere. The key is to stick to cooked food and drink only bottled water. The city of Banaras is bustling with culture and there is beauty everywhere you look, you only have to look!

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One Response to Food from Banaras

  1. Pingback: Food from Banaras | Antarvishwa

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