Being a food maniac, as soon as I leave on a self drive trip, first thing I want to ascertain is Dhabas en route. In my philosophy of traveling places, one of my axioms has been: – What is there in travel if not for food.
So, on my road tripping to Kumaon, Uttaranchal in last October, my first designated pit stop was Gajraula. Having been to this place many times earlier, in my view Gajraula is the Murthal of NH24 – The Land of Dhabas, for Delhi junta traveling onwards to Lucknow or Uttaranchal. It has phenomenal offerings in Bikanerwala, Some Regular Dhabas, Some Famous Destination Dhabas Tadka and Giani, Few Modern Eateries like Costa Coffee and Mcdonald, Up Class Meriton, Vithal Kamat & A1 Plaza – something for everyone.
After having been to Dhabas in every nook and corer of the country, I believe each Dhaba has a cycle of evolution. At least highway side Dhabas certainly have one. Each starts as trucker dhaba, evolves in to bus dhaba, turns in to family dhaba and some achieve iconic stature to become destination in itself – so the term destination Dhaba. I know ample people in Delhi who visit such Destination Dhabhas on NH1 to Murthal / Karnal, on NH 8 to Rewari and on NH24 to Gajraula only to relish mouthwatering food which is a combination of earthy hospitability and unique yet stereotyped ambience spiced up with sense and sensibility of Indian way of cooking. And this phenomenon of evolution of Dhabas is omnipresent in India.
So on our way to Dharchula and Munsiyari in Uttaranchal, after having left Delhi early in the morning and being on the road for about two hours, breakfast was the only thing in our minds to address the rumbling stomach. And when in Gajraula, Giani Dhaba is my favourite place which has now rechristened itself as Giani Restaurant. Although I have been to Bikanerwala and Meriton as well in earlier occasions but somehow Giani Dhaba has captured definite place in my mind – a destination Dhaba in all true senses. On the way to Uttarakhand through NH24, The Giani’s Dhaba is a must have pit stop for breakfast, a glass of tea and some rest. Rest assured, the time spend here will rejuvenate and refresh your soul for journey onwards.
Giani Dhaba is one of the oldest Dhaba of Gajraula located on the left just before the flyover while coming from Delhi. This Dhaba is aptly famous for Daal with tandoori Roti and Dry Tandoori Parantha served with butter dollop and pickles. As dessert, Thandi kheer garnished with grated coconut is a must have although we find it too sweet. We usually prefer to end our meal with a full glass of refreshing Chai (tea) which makes the road ahead easier to drive on.
This iconic Dhaba was started by a Sardar ji hailing from Jalandhar in Punjab some 40 years back, giving this Dhaba a certain Punjabi Touch. It’s my belief, Punjab connection to any Dhaba gives it a different characteristic and this geographical positioning helps it in garnering better brand recall. However, Tadka aka Bajan Dhaba is most sought after Dhaba of Gajraula but old world charm of Giani makes me stop here again and again and every time. They used to serve non-veg till the early 1980s but stopped doing so and now it’s a pure vegetarian dhaba.
Tandoori Parantha here reminds me of Pahalwan Dhaba in Murthal on NH1. Seeing other people relishing on them, gurgling calls from stomach took over the health conscious mind and we ended up ordering high calorie Tandoori Parantha awesomely loaded with butter. The butter is not at par with homemade white butter of Murthal, but yellowish Amul butter has its own delightful characteristics for each Indian. In this Dhaba, I have seen people from all class, creed and nationalities enjoying the food which is a testimony in itself to the quality and standard of the Dhaba. You are going to love this place!
After two hours of early morn driving, sumptuous food at Gajraula opens up all the senses which snap you away from mundane city life and thus help you appreciate other world. After 30 minutes of this pit stop, we started our journey to other worldly Dharchula and Munsiyari in Kuamaon region of Uttaranchal.
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