Sunday, April 24, 2011

EATING OUT IN PUNE Khau Galli or Treat Street Food

EATING OUT IN PUNE
Khau Galli or Treat Street Food
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Khau Galli

What does this mean?

Well, in Marathi, Khau means Treat, a Food Treat.

And Galli means lane, or street.

So Khau Galli means Treat Street, or Food Lane, call it what you like.

Every city, town, neighbourhood, locality, and person, has a favourite Khau Galli.

When I used to stay near Churchgate in Mumbai, my favorite Khau Galli was the one near Cross Maidan, on the lane connecting SNDTs Sunderbai Hall to Fashion Street.

Here amidst the teeming crowd, I used to relish to my hearts content, the choicest of street food Pav Bhaji at Lenin Pav Bhaji, Vada Pav, Misal, Juices, juicy syrupy hot Jilebis, and even non-veg delicacies and gravies at the dhaba-like shack towards the Cross Maidan.

In any good Khau Galli, the variety of street food here is awesome you name it and it will be there – all types of cuisine and street food.

But if you are one of those high-falutin snobbish hygiene-maniacs please stay away, for Khau Gallis are meant for the Trencherman with a cast iron stomach.

Mumbai has so many Khau Gallis. And I am sure that every city and town in India has delicious khau gallis.

In Mumbai, during Ramzan, every evening, the entire lane near Minara Masjid off Mohammed Ali Road, transforms itself into a spectacular Khau Galli with mouthwatering aromas wafting through the air and exotic foods, ranging from lip smacking kababs, meats and chicken, nourishing malpuas, refreshing phirnis and cool soothing faloodas its a magnificent gastronomic experience.

In Delhi, I can never forget the fantastic inimitable Khau Gallis in Old Delhi - the kababs, the biryani, the nihari, the meats and the sweets; and the lip smacking food around Chandni Chowk. Parathe Wali Galli, the unmatched incomparable finger licking syrup dripping lip smacking rich sweet succulent pure ghee jalebi at Dariba Lane.

In Pune, where I now live, there are a number of terrific Khau Gallis in the heart of the city, and in Pune Camp, but now let me tell you of some Khau Gallis I visited recently.

On Karve Road, as you walk towards Deccan, on the opposite side of Garware College, right opposite Café Paradise and the Railway Booking Office, you cannot miss a food stall called BIPIN Snacks. This is one of the few places in Pune where you can have your fill within fifty bucks. I love the Khichadi Kakadi, the Pav Patties, the Shira and even the Misal (I personally prefer Bipin’s Misal to the nearby highly hyped Katakir Misal which I find a bit too spicy for my palate – of course, you cannot match the Misal served at Vinay Lunch Home in Girgaum Mumbai). The Batata Wada and other snacks like Pohe at Bipin are quite tasty too. You can wash down your meal with Mango Panha or Tea, as you please. If you are still hungry, you’ve got a Paratha stall nearby which serves a variety of wholesome stuffed parathas and I love the fluffy buttery Dosas at the Dakshin Davangiri Dosa Stall too, best washed down with cool sugarcane juice from the stall next door.

Treasure Park, near Bibwewadi, too has a number of decent eating joints ranging from a Biryani place, to the ubiquitous bhel, pani-puri and chaat stalls, a good veg food place, an ice cream and mastani parlour, a soda fountain, a Dosa shop which serves excellent dosas, pizza joints and the best of all, a café called Delicia which serves yummy chicken momos, burgers and sandwiches. The steamed momos at Delicia are really good. I love the fruit flavoured sodas at the soda fountain too.

Bibwewadi has a number of decent affordable eating places, on the Bibwewadi Kondhwa Road (especially Kalyan Bhel), the Bibwewadi Main Road where I must try out the Misal at Damodar soon, as recommended by many (I wonder how I missed it out till now), and also on the various lanes and opposite the Vivekananda Park where I love the set-dosa at Durga stall.

The heart of the Pune City and Pune Camp too have some excellent Khau Gallis, like the one opposite the University and the “Chowpatty” in Camp near the GPO.

The restaurants in Pune are becoming expensive day by day, and the quality of the food they serve is certainly not commensurate with the high prices they charge. Thanks to the IT Boom, even heritage places like Blue Nile (with the new air-conditioned ambiance and hiked up prices) are trying to solicit new “high falutin” customers and the food served in malls, multiplexes, most restaurants and star hotels is certainly not value-for-money.

So, if you want value-for-money food you better start exploring the streets of Pune, and if you find some good Khau Gallis, do tell us all about it.

Happy Eating

VIKRAM KARVE

PS – Food SOS – If anyone knows of some good eating places near Wakad do let us know ASAP. At present I am searching in vain for a decent place to eat near my new home in Wakad - a "cosmopolitan" suburb of Pune - where, at present, the only option seems to be to order a pizza from Dominos or a burger from McDonalds or try out one of those "dhabhas" on the main road.
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