An epicentre of Hinduism, the city of Varanasi is as old and sacred as the ghats of the Ganges themselves. A popular destination for backpackers from every corner of the globe, it is a hodgepodge of narrow gullies, heaving crowds and a tizzy of sights, sounds and smells. It is no wonder then that such a soulful city would have a delectably rich tradition of cuisine – from steaming kachoris and jalebis to refreshing lassi and thandais.
So, make sure bite to into some of our recommendations for the true taste of Varanasi.
1. Baati Chokha
Baati Chokha on the Puran Das Road welcomes you with a decidedly earthy ambiance of clay ovens and millstones, stewing aromatic dals and roasting fresh chickpeas. Its walls are adorned in indigenous art as a small temple and even a well accentuate the overall mood. Patrons have the choice of lounging on charpoys, soaking in the rustic feel or settling down at regular tables. To however, make the most of your experience here, make sure you sample their sattu parathas, and litti chokhas for an authentic taste of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
2. Bread of Life Bakery
Besides local street fare, Varanasi also offers a rather surprising array of delightful bakeries. One such is Bread of Life Bakery at Shivala which also happens to be among the oldest. It boasts of a comfortable contemporary seating where you can devour on freshly-baked cakes and breads, muffins, pancakes along with other sumptuous treats. Additionally, you can count on the bakery for flavoursome Mediterranean and European options such as Mediterranean Eggplant Escalope, Ratatouille and Moussaka. Moreover, in keeping with the city’s godliness, all profits from the bakery go to charity.
3. Brown Bread Bakery
It opened its door to Varanasi in 2006 becoming the city’s first organic bakery, soon acquiring an enviable reputation of serving fresh warm breads made with different types of natural products and organic grains. This little cafe near Golden Temple on Dashaswmedh Road hosts a roof top area from where you can catch panoramic views of the Ganges, in addition to a cosy air-conditioned indoor space. Moreover, while we recommend their exquisite European breakfast buffet, make sure to also browse through their cheese counter.
4. Deena Chat Bhandar
Tucked away on Dashaswmedh Road, Deena Chat Bhandar is a popular haunt for for lip-smacking chaat and quick snacks. A must-try on its menu is the palak chaat which serves fried spinach along with sev, curd and is garnished with green and red tamarind chutney. However, the eatery is most known for its unique tamatar chaat which is a tingling concoction of tomatoes, chickpeas, spices and chutney.
5. Pizzeria Vaatika Cafe
And if you want to treat your palate with some irresistible Italian delicacies, make a beeline for the Pizzeria Vaatika Cafe at Assi Ghat. Lay back comfortably in their garden terrace which overlooks the world famous river as you nibble on a delectable range of wood-fired pizzas or try their mouth-watering Indian and Chinese specialities. Also, finish it off on a sweet note with their freshly-prepared apple pie served with a dollop of ice cream.
6. Blue Lassi Shop
The best way to beat the scorching Kashi heat is to guzzle on the creamiest lassi in town. At Blue Lassi Shop in Kachowari Gali Chowk, you can pick from an array of seasonal fruits and flavours to conjure up any blend that you fancy. Served in little matkas (earthen pots), these fresh, flavoursome treats have been a local favourite for over three generations. From Blueberry Coconut to Kesar Almond, their selection is eclectic.
7. Malaiyyo walas
Malaiyyos, served in different variations in other states, are essentially local milk treats garnished with saffron and pistachios and available only during winters. While Kachori Galli and Neelkanth are some options, almost every nook and cranny of Varanasi is littered with malaiyyo walas that serve these fresh in kuladhs.
8. The Ram Bhandar
Ram Bhandar at Thatheri Bazaar offers up some steaming tangy kachoris. Teeming with eager families on weekends, the joint also serves a special and popularly recommended aloo subzi, potatoes and chickpeas flavoured with fresh spices – an aromatic treat that goes best with a hot portion of jalebis at the end.
9. The Great Kebab Factory
For those looking forward to some fine dining, The Great Kebab Factory, Radisson Hotel is a preferred go-to. Its wide-ranging selection of kebabs also includes those prepared using local spices to provide a delectable twist to the regular chicken, mutton and fish options. What’s more, since there is a new menu each day, you can always be sure to be served something new.