EATING OUT IN INDIA - STREET FOOD
Youngsters, like my own kids, may prefer eating in Food Courts in Malls but old timers like me prefer Khau Gallis - yes, I still prefer the yummy value-for-money street food in a Khau Galli rather than the insipid expensive fare served at most Food Courts in the ubiquitous Malls and so-called Fast Food Joints that are proliferating like hobgoblins all over Pune.
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, or Foodie Lane, call it what you like.
(Lovers go to the Lovers Lane but Foodies go to the Foodie Lane aka Khau Galli)
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, off Marine Lines, on the lane connecting SNDT University Sunderbai Hall to Fashion Street.
Here amidst the teeming crowd, I used to relish to my hearts content, the choicest of street food like Pav Bhaji at Lenin Pav Bhaji stall, Vada Pav, Misal, Juices, Milk Shakes and juicy syrupy hot Jilebis, and even non-veg delicacies like chicken curry and delicious gravies at the dhaba-like shack towards the Cross Maidan.
In any good Khau Galli, the variety of street food is awesome - you name it and it will be there – all types of cuisine, snacks and fast food.
But if you are one of those high-falutin snobbish hygiene-maniacs please stay away from Khau Gallis, for Khau Gallis are meant for the Trencherman with a cast iron stomach.
Mumbai has so many Khau Gallis, maybe hundreds of them, at least one in each neighbourhood.
Apart from the Cross Maidan Khau Galli near Churchgate I mentioned above, another favourite Khau Galli of mine was the Khau Galli near Strand Book Store in the lane connecting PM Road with Fort Market.
In Mumbai, even the Navy had opened two Khau Gallis - one in Navy Nagar and one in NOFRA, both of which served delicious value-for-money food.
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.
I am sure you have been to the inimitable Parathe Wali Galli and also relished the unmatched incomparable finger licking syrup dripping lip smacking rich sweet succulent pure ghee Jalebi at Dariba Lane, nearby.
The Khau Gallis of Old Delhi are the best of all and I am going crazy just thinking about all the delicious food I have relished there, so before I go into gastronomic raptures I will control my foodie thoughts and come back to Pune.
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 [since closed down] 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.
I regularly visit the Khau Galli opposite the Vivekananda Memorial on the Pune Satara Road near Bibwewadi especially for the Bhel, Pav Bhaji and the lip smacking Dosa and Uttapam at Shri Durga Dosa Stall.
The heart of the Pune City and Pune Camp too have some excellent Khau Gallis like the one opposite the University at the beginning of Senapati Bapat Road and the famous “Chowpatty” Khau Galli in Camp near the GPO.
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 Liberalization, the IT Boom and the huge influx of multicultural population, even heritage places like Good Luck, George and Blue Nile (with the new air-conditioned ambiance and hiked up prices) are trying to solicit new “high falutin” customers with plenty of money in their pockets.
And the food served in malls, multiplexes, most restaurants and star hotels is certainly not value-for-money food.
Sadly, most new eateries in Pune cater to the so-called connoisseur and not the earthy trencherman.
So, Dear Reader, if you want value-for-money lip-smacking food you better start exploring the streets of Pune.
And if you discover some good Khau Gallis in Pune, or in your city, do tell us all about your eating experience.
Dear Fellow Foodie Traveller, Dear Earthy Trencherman - Which are your favorite Khau Gallis?
Do tell us about the Khau Gallis you have discovered during your travels all over.
I eagerly wait to read about your mouthwatering experiences at your favorite Khau Gallis so that I too can relish the lip smacking yummy food, of course in my mind’s eye!
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
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About Vikram Karve
A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a large number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.
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