Where to Go in India: For Heartwarming Meals
Why Go Now: Get the true taste of Steel City
Jamshedpur, the city where India’s first steel plant was set up, attracted many men of enterprise. The flavours of different communities coalesced to make Jampot, as the city is lovingly called, a true melting pot when it comes to food.
L.N. Krishna Iyer ran away from his home near Palakkad after his mother hit him with a broom and caught a train to Tatanagar. Here, he opened The Madrasi Hotel in 1935 which rustles up crisp dosas with sambar and filter coffee. Jamshedpur Boarding’s well-worn kitchen has been serving up Kolkata-style fish curry meals and chara pona (baby rohu) since 1942.
There’s no one dedicated street or iconic dish from Jamshedpur—there are plenty. Ramesh Kulfi, a humble meat-chawal shack started by Ramesh Prasad in 1972, serves his Devghar special mutton atthe, cooked in ghee, onion and hand-ground masalas into a thick gravy. In the Sakchi area, Surendar Kewat patiently roasts littis—wheat flour patties filled with spiced sattu (toasted gram flour)—on a smoky iron griddle, and douses them in desi ghee.
There are more culinary masters. In Bistupur, Bhatia Shakes offers juices and shakes sourcing the choicest of ingredients—local buffalo milk, langda mangoes from Bihar, litchis from Muzaffarpur, pineapples from Siliguri and rose petals from Howrah. Nearby Mewa Lal Bhuja Bhandar is run by a family of bhujwalis, who roast snacks on heated sand. They stack chikki, tilkut, tilpatti, badampatti, ramdana laddu and the intriguing gud cigarette, a crunchy jaggery stick. Restaurateur and Madhuri Dixit fan Pappu Sardar of Manohar Chat has a quirky invention, a mixed chaat, a fruit salad with samosa, chana and chips, topped with mixture. In addition to his lip-smacking sweets, Satbir Singh of Bhatia Jalebi also flaunts his invention: an “ulta clock” that tells the right time.
—Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy
Why go now: Sip on locally made fennel- and sandalwood-spiced liqueur
There are so many reasons to visit this wonderful state that one may be forgiven for losing count. Now, here’s another: locally-brewed spiced liqueur. When the maharajas held their sway across Rajasthan, this liqueur was divided into three categories—Ikbara, Dobara and Asaav—for the common man, officers, and royalty respectively. Each territory had its own concoction of Asaav. Some did it with spices like saffron and herbs, some with milk, some with flowers; it is said that up to 165 herbs and spices, including white sandalwood, were used to brew Chandrahaas, a liqueur named after Lord Shiva’s sword.
The Rajasthan State Ganganagar Sugar Mills (RSGSM) has revived these heritage liqueur traditions under the brand Royal Heritage Liqueur. Of the original eight, Royal Chandr Hass and Royal Saunf are available in liquor stores in Rajasthan. A sip is enough to be transported back to princely times.
Why Go Now: Peek inside centuries-old, lovingly restored Portuguese homes
Behind the house is a belvedere where da Gama and his wife Celia serve a home-cooked Indo-Portuguese meal that you’ll be hard-pressed to find in Goan restaurants. We begin with a cooling kokum juice spiked with feni, and go on to fish croquettes, grilled prawns, savoury pumpkin pudding, steamed fish with garlic and shallots, poi, vegetable curry, and red rice.
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