Someone really wise once told me – What is life if not a lot of stories merged into one? The ones who are truly living are living stories of mini-stories of stories. Some like creating their storyboards at home, unlike me. My stories need to come from vast-lands and mountains and oceans spread across the world.
But reality is more critical than stories. So when you’re in a profession you love but hate only because it requires you to work almost all the time, you take mini-trips and make mini-stories. Most of my recent weekend travelling has been to the twin cities of Ajmer and Pushkar, well known across the Country both for their religious as well as cultural significance.
A 2-hour drive from Jaipur, Ajmer is just like any other town, crowded and dusty, but with the fortune of being home to the Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti ji Sahab – sacred to people of all religions. Adjacent to Ajmer, a pleasant 20 minute and two hills away, lies the dinky town of Pushkar. Also home to the only Brahma Temple in the world, Pushkar is frequently visited by pilgrims from across India.
Apart from being the teerth-raj, Pushkar is also a vegetarian and budget-travellers’ dream come true. For ages, this small town has attracted enthusiasts from across the globe – quite evident when you walk into the town. The city has also adapted itself to become Global – slowly metamorphosing into a city that hosts multiple cultures and along with it multiple cuisines.
Being the Temple Town, alcohol and non-vegetarian food is strictly prohibited in Pushkar. Quite honestly, disappointed me a little the first time. But I was pleasantly surprised to see stalls selling lafas and falafels all over the main bazaar. Foreign fruits like avocados and dragon fruits are a common sight. Indians have a very strong capability to adapt themselves into what the situation demands and that is exactly what the people of Pushkar have done. To cater to the taste of foreign traveller, who is often looked upon as someone who would enjoy their wine and steak, Pushkar has translated itself into a vegetarian haven of sorts that has something in store for everyone. It is not hard to believe that some foreign travellers come to Pushkar and chose to spend their lives here.
My tryst with Pushkar has proved to be pleasantly delicious. I feel it is only right that travellers know of these hidden gems that produce some of the most amazing comfort foods I’ve eaten. Hence, I am penning down a few that really impressed me. Now I’m not a staunch believer of fancy eating, so you may not find your goto cafes with amazing cold-coffees and pancakes (that do exist in Pushkar), but these are places that have what they call the soul food.
1. Babaji Ke Chawal: You’ll find him standing next to his thela with his masala chawal and curd rice on the main temple street market near Narsingh Ghat. The taste of his curd rice can only be described as magical. At Rs. 10 per plate (dona) Babaji is not just the love of the tourists but also the local lunch guy. We were lucky to taste some before he ran out, so make sure you find this guy before the sun sets. MUST EAT CURD RICE. ok. peace.
2. The International Lafa Guy: Ganga restaurant is not really a restaurant but a giant tawa surrounded with exotic vegetables and mediterranean dips that are supposed to entice you to eat their famous lafa/falafel. One of their guys invites people to eat in sixteen different languages! Talk about talent.
3. Sonu Juice Shop: Tired of all the shopping under the direct sun? Head over to Sonu’s to savour over hundred varieties of shakes and juices. Trust me, this guy does not disappoint.
4. The Tibetan Kitchen: Yes, you will find the most amazing tibetan food in the heart of Rajasthan. A humble, quaint, peaceful cafe, tibetan kitchen is a must visit if your’re a fan of the mountain food like I am.
5. Mohan ki Chai: Indians are tenacious tea-lovers and this guy has cashed in on the fact. But I’ll give it to him for serving one of the most soul-touching teas. And God bless for Kulhads!
6. Radhe Ji Ki Dukaan: Sugar is sin and sinning is good. Do not leave Pushkar without tasting the globe-famous malpuas. Personal tip: If you want to really eat it, look away while he’s making it.
May the travels never end, nor does the food and neither will the stories. Till next.