The Great Indian Food Trail – Sarafa Bazaar, Indore
There can be no better place than Indore to experience while you are on #GreatIndianFoodTrail. Indore has a unique phenomenon that is India’s only, the vivid and the most satiating night food-street – The Sarafa Bazaar. A true place to feel salvation and foodgasm
Indore is famous for its rich food culture and cosmopolitan nature specially the night food street of Sarafa Bazaar. Anyone, who has ever been to Indore, will definitely agree that Indore is the Street Food Capital of India. It is very well-known for its street food bazaars like Sarafa Bazaar, Chhappan(56) Dukan, Chhawni, Sikh Mohalla to name few.
In true sense, entire Indore and its streets, lanes & by-lanes are full of food joints of all kind. Each one of them has some or other food legends and fan following.
Indore – The Food Capital of India
Indore must be the only city on planet earth which can be visited only for food. Food is what drives the city and binds people of Indore together. A typical day of an Indorian starts with omnipresent Poha and Jalebi. As day passes Samosa, Kachori, Sev Parmal etc acquire mouth space. The day ends with delicious Paan at Parshwanath or Anna Bhaiya or Karnawat. Few opt for a day ending with a glass full of Masala Milk/Shikanji at Laxminarayan Dhoodhwala or Naguari Shikanji in Sarafa Bazaar etc. Further, every meal of the day is accompanied by some sort of snacking everyday of the year.
Indore, situated on the breezy Malwa Plateau, boasts of phenomenally rich food culture as it’s been a melting pot of different cultures for centuries.
Ujjain, 60 KM from Indore, has been a center of world culture since ages finding its mention in Mahabharat. It was the capital of Gupta Dynasty that ushered golden Era in India. Vicinity to Ujjain has crucially influenced Indore, its culture and heritage. Indore’s geographical location between two Jyotirlingas Mahakaleshwar and Omkareshwar, has made it an important en-route location for Hindu Pilgrims. Result is a vibrant Indore with a profound cultural mix, a melange of traditions from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Bundelkhand.
This when topped with Malwa’s own diversity and vibrant food culture, makes Indore a place that can be visited only for food. Fertile black soil of central India also contributes significantly to this by producing everything in abundance making Indore a sheer paradise for every food lover.
My tryst with Indore, Sarafa Bazaar & Its Food Culture
Indore has a special place in my heart and I must admit after my mother’s homemade food, Indore is profoundly responsible for developing my test buds. My tryst with Indore and its food started in 1999 and it’s getting stronger and stronger every passing year. So, this time when I reached Indore with my camera and notepad, I wanted to capture the candid food culture of Indore. To explore the city and its delectable culinary delights conveniently, I opted for a reliable car rental in Indore, ensuring easy transportation to the various food hotspots and capturing the essence of this vibrant food culture.
Here, begins my Great Indian Food Trail from the only night food-street of India i.e. Sarafa Bazaar, which starts at 8PM and goes till 2AM in the morning. It has most hygienic and wide range of palate satiating dishes on the menu topped with stories and folk lores.. And Guys, it’s strictly a veg only and hence being a strict vegetarian, I found myself at ease here.
Sarafa Bazaar – The Famous Night Food Street
The streets behind Rajwada \in Indore are crowded Jewelry Market in the day time and hence the name Sarafa Bazaar. This jewelry market started in early 19th century however no one is sure of the origin of the night food bazaar. Some believe it started some 100 years back and was encouraged by jewelry shop owners so that their shops were secured even post midnight. With this in mind, they willingly started offering front space of their shop to food vendors and thus Night Food Bazaar came into existence ensuring the streets are empty only for few hours in early morning.
Wide Variety & Unique Food Of Sarafa Bazaar
Food vendors, many with legends attached to them, start converging to Sarafa Bazaar around 8 PM and bring with them myriad foods, fragrances and a definite hustle-bustle amidst cheerful chaos of everyday festivity. Food menu here is full of variety, you name it and certainly you gonna get it. Many among them are only found in this market namely Bhutte Ka Kiss, Garadu (Yam root) Chaat, King size Jalebi fondly known as Jaleba, Basundi, milk based Shikanji, Khopra Pattis etc. Some other iconic and legendary items are Sabudana Ki Khichdi, Dahi Wada, Kulfi, Malpua, Barf ka Gola etc. Other regulars like Pani Puri, Alu Tikki, Samosa, Kachori, and variety of sweets are also present. In recent years, keeping a pace with changing customer demands. a lot of space has been acquired by Chinese Food, South Indian, Sandwiches, Pav Bhaji vendors also.
The phenomenon called Sarafa Bazaar, the pride of the Indore, is rarely visible anywhere in India and offers a multiple reasons for indulgence to every foodie.
Here, I list down few must visit shops which offer most scrumptious food and also affectionate hospitality treating every guest as their personal guests –
- Joshiji ka Dahi Vada
- Sanwariya Seth Ki Sabudana Khichdi
- Agrawal Ice Cream
- Jai Bhole Jalebi Bhandar
- Jain Shri Baraf Gola (Ice Ball)
- Anna Bhaiya’s Pan
The Must Have Street Food at Sarafa Bazaar – Joshiji Ka Dahi Vada
This iconic shop in the middle of Sarafa is a permanent outlet serving not only the magical Dahi Vada but also one of the original dishes of the Sarafa, the Bhutte Ka kiss. The owner Om Prakash Joshi is a magician in his own fiefdom as he creates a mystical aura around his Dahi Vada. After pouring dahi (Curd) over Vada, he flips it high in the air without spilling a single drop and as soon it lands back on his hand, he uses other hand’s fingers to sprinkle different spices on the top with an artistic touch. the whole act, literally, cannot be explained but only can be seen and enjoyed in awe. So, when you visit him, do ask him to perform his magical trick for you, and he will happily obilige you.
His another dish Bhutte Ka Kiss made from shredded corn with spices and coconut is most relished dish of the Sarafa. This one of its kind mouth-watering dish is hardly available anywhere else. Bhutte Ka Kiss and Dahi vada have make Joshi ji a legend in Sarafa Bazar’s famous night food street.
The Legendary Street Food At Sarafa Bazaar – Sanwariya Seth Ki Sabudana Khichdi
Though Sabudana Khichdi is originated from Maharashtra but certainly found its home & achieved pinnacle only on the streets of Indore. It’s available at every nook and corner of Indore and the best is concocted by Sanwariya Seth of Sarafa Bazaar’s night food street.
Sabudana Khichdi is a common food for fasting days in India and also known as Fariyali Sabudana Khichdi in Indore. Famously the punchline of this shop revolve around this – “Upwas mein best….sanwariya ka test (Test of Sanwariya….best for fasting).” The taste of this dish at Sanwariya is so dearly tempting and juicy that everyone, irrespective of fasting or no fasting, flocks to this shop to have his share of heavenly feeling. It’s again a permanent shop of Sarafa serving 40-50kg sabudana khichdi in a day which is relished by all.
The owner Jagganath Ji Vyas, who belongs to Rajasthan state of Rajput Warriors, established this shop way back in 1983. Now with pride his son Om Vyas is carrying the legacy forward. Sabudana must have reached Indore with Maratha Warrior from Maharashtra who ruled the city for centuries. This delicious dish got its most beloved chef in Vyas Ji, a Rajasthani settled Indore. This is the cynosure symbol of eon old cosmopolitan nature of Indore in true sense.
(Foodie’s Note: When you are done with sabudan khichdi here, do buy few packets of potato wafers flavored with hellishly hot red chilli. It may burn all your senses in and out and but will make you to crave for more.)
Famous Street Food Joint at Sarafa Bazaar – Agrawal Ice Cream
In the great Sarafa Bazaar’s night food market, where every day is a gala day Agrawal Ice Cream is famous for desserts items Ice Creams, Kulfi, Faluda and Shrikhand. This 55 years old shop is located just opposite to the Police Station of Sarafa and commands strong fans following in this world’s unique night food street.
They still prepare Ice Cream in old and traditional ways, known as Fresh Saanche ki Icecream (Freash Mould’s Icecream). I met Mr. Mukesh Agarwal who is the son of founder Shiv Narayan Agarwal Ji who came from Amravati in 60’s to start this shop and now Mukesh’s sons are also involved in this family business. Amravati is in the state of Maharashtra, corroborating the fact that Sarafa Food Street is by everyone, of everyone, for everyone.
There most famous concoction is the Hapus ice cream made from the pulp of Alphonso Mango, The King of Mangos. They source pure pulp of Alphonso directly from the Ratnagiri, the native place of authentic Alphonso. The delightful taste of this particular ice cream is so rich with Alphonso flavor that it feels as if you are eating fresh Alphonso. Their other claim to fame is saffron flavored Shrikhand, topped with small pieces of pistachio and cashews.
If your sweet tooth craves for ice cream then it’s the place on the earth to relish ice cream of olden era. And, I must thank Mukesh Ji for extending his earnest hospitality and next time for sure, I will visit his shop empty stomach to relish his Kulfi Faluda and other delicacies.
Unique Street Food At Sarafa Bazaar – Jai Bhole Jalebi Bhandar
OH-MY-GOD could be the only expression on anyone’s face while ogling at single 250 gram Jalebi being fried in Pure Desi Ghee at this shop and they famously and fondly call it Jaleba the king size Jalebi.
This Jaleba was first fried and sugar-coated by Sohan Lal Vyas who hails from Rajasthan in the year 1988. When he first started to dish out this Jaleba in late evening hours, people mocked at him because till then, Jalebi was a regular food item to be relished only in morning with Poha. Mr. Vyas’ good senses prevailed and finally foodies of Indore accepted this savory which is now one of its kinds.
With his expert hands, he can prepare one Jaleba of upto 500 gram sizing up to table tennis bat, which is unique, unparalleled and unseen. Phenomenon like this makes Sarafa Bazaar’s night food street a unique and out of this world experience.
(Foodie’s Note: This gastronomic piping hot grandeur is a must-have original when you visit Sarafa for night food. Make sure you order only 100 gram Jaleba in one go. If your palate craves for more and stomach allows, you must try Malpua also at this shop which is again mind-blowing!)
Awesome Street Food at Sarafa Bazaar – Jain Shri Baraf Gola (Ice Ball)
“Arre yaar kya dhansu hai baraf gola” which means – Wow, oh dear, this ice ball is darnly awesome.
“Khaya tha bachpan mein yaad aaya 55 me” which means – you had it in childhood but remembers even after adulthood.
These punchlines tell a lot about the owner of the shop and his marketing mind as no one can miss these line written atop his push-kart. Jain Sahab as fondly known is a man full of vibrancy and has been dishing out colorful Baraf ka golla since many decades.
I remember my first visit to this kart in the year 2000 and how affectionately the Baraf ka Gola took me in his embrace. And since then, I must have visited his shops for umpteen times and while juicing out Gola, I always keep reading those dhansu lines.
So, this time when I reached this another legendary food cart, to make sure it is his kart, I searched for the punch line “khaya tha bachpan mein yaad aaya 55 mein.” and bingo!! The line was still there vouching that it’s his lorry. Next, I asked the teen-aged boy who was busy in crushing the ice about the owner and here Mr. Jain appeared from the behind putting his hand on my shoulders. Yeyy! I really acted like a child seeing him, such is the aura around him, his vibrant shop and his colorfully testy Gola that actually bring out child in you.
Orange, Kala Khatta, Khas, Pilawalla (the yellow One), Red Rose etc are the name of the flavors that Mr. Jain prepares at home with his own recipe and also pours some home-made masala on the top of Gola. He claims that with this masala, his Gola never causes any cough or cold. Being at this food cart is always like going back into the whirls of the memories when as a child we used to crush ice and pour Rooh-afza to relish home-made Gola.
Updated in Jan 2023 – During my recent visit, i met the sun of Jain Sahab who is now fully involved in the business and have started to offer new contemporary flavours.
The Most Iconic Place In Sarafa Bazaar – Anna Bhaiya’s Pan
As you move out of Sarafa Bazaar and reach main Rajwada square my strong suggestion is to wind up your indulgence with Anna’s Paan (Betel leaf delicacy). This will certainly heightened your savory senses and ensure the entire Sarafa experience is deeply engraved in your memory.
Anna Bhaiyya’s paan shop is a more than 100 years old shutter less shop which was started by his Father Late Mr. Lala Ram Ji Chaurasiya lovingly known as Lalla Seth and now third generation is also involved in this pride profession. Forefathers of Anna Bhaiyya had the opportunity and distinction to serve Kings of Holkers as well. The shop has also hosted luminaries like first Prime Minister of India Mr. Jawahar Lal Nehru, queen of melody Lata Mangeshker etc.
Indorian have a special appetite for Paans as the city boasts of many famous Paan shops such as legendary Anna Bhaiyya, iconic Parshwnath and omnipresent Karnawat. They have championed the art of making delicious and mouth dissolving Pan but Anna Bhaiyya’s Shop stands tall and notches above all. Family of Anna Bhaiyya belongs to the clan of Chaurasiya’s from Raibareilly district of Uttar Pradesh and this clan is synonym to the art of Paan making.
While interacting with him, he passionately disclosed the aspect of evolution of Paan in India. As per him earlier there was nothing like Meetha Paan (Sweet Betel Delicacy) and it’s just a 40-50 years old phenomenon. He listed down some important milestone of this evolution:
1st being the advent of Chaman Bahar and Belgam Paan Masala in sixties, 2nd in early seventies when Baba’s Paan Chatni made the enroute to Paan’s ecosystem, and in between these two milestones, somewhere in mid sixties Gulkand (Jam of Wild Roses) came and meetha paan started to roll out from Paan shops in full swing.
So, here ends the tale of Sarafa Bazaar for now as there is still much more to this saga called Sarafa Bazaar of Indore that has a definite heritage value. For me, however, this journey was full of nostalgia and brought me closer to my favorite city Indore and its vibrant food culture. I visited this place in the summer and hence missed winter only spicy Garadu Chaat and also as my stomach was full I couldn’t relish other famous shops of Sarafa like Vijay Chaat House, Nagauri Shikanji, Bairav Nath Rabdi Guru and Swadisht Samosa. In my next visit, I will cover these shops and conclude this story of Sarafa.
As a concluding thought, I have to admit that the taste of all delicacies is still same as it was 15 years back when I entered this unique and vivid night food street bazaar first time. I strongly feel that McDonalds and KFCs of the world must visit this place to understand how such standardization is possible without deploying modern technologies. I think it’s possible because food vendors here are passionate about their heritage and have highest order of pride on what they do and serve. May this tradition continue forever!! Amen!!
Great Indian Food Trail is an Initiative by Everything Candid where we aim to bring best of Indian Food for all salivating-foodie souls. Our mission is to attend salvation through food. Let’s be together in this journey.
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