GAYA Food Tour I World Famous TILKUT, ANARSA & MAGHAI PAAN I FUSION Chaat, HUGE Imarti, Aloo Kachalu
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Continuing our quest for food in the state of Bihar, we have arrived at the ancient holy city of Gaya. Also known as the land of enlightenment and salvation, Gaya is a sacred place for Hindu, Buddhist and Jain devotees alike. Since it is frequented by a large number of tourists and pilgrims, the second largest city of Bihar boasts of a vibrant street food scenario that is dominated by traditional fares that are loved by the locals too. So let’s take you on an immersive street food tour of Gaya.
Before starting with our eating spree we first visited the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh gaya. It is one of the major Buddhist worship sites in the world. It being the revered place where Lord Buddha had attained Enlightenment, the sprawling premises was full of monks and other devotees have arrived here to seek divine blessings. On emerging from the temple complex, we noticed a few eating joints, primarily selling Tibetan fares. Here we savoured a fresh phaley bread and some rice noodles soup. Both the dishes procured from women vendors were deliciously hearty.
We then set out for Gaya. On reaching there we first offered our prayers at the famous Vishnupada temple and then began the food tour. The first stop at Gaya was Rajasthan Bhojnalay where the no onion garlic Bihari thali impressed us with its home styled taste and affordability.
The second destination was a family run chat centre named Kesari chat. Here polished off a plate of Palak Paneer chat which was uniquely zesty. This was followed by an equally brilliant aloo malpua.
As we kept walking looking for the next stop, we came by a humble open tea stall and stopped there for some lemon tea.
From there we went to have a humongous imarti from Sri Ganinnath Imarti Bhandar, which is probably the best imarti shop in the city. The hot syrup laden crisp orangish loop was simply delicious.
We then took a paan break at Mathura paan. The classic Maghai Paan cleansed our palate and primed it for more food. Here we got to learn about the different varieties of suparis.
Next was the turn of Gaya’s renowned Tilkut. It is a traditional sweet made with sugar and sesame seeds. At Jauhar ji’s shop we got the opportunity to witness the complex and laborious process of making these Tilkuts. It is fascinating to see so many people engaged in this elaborate task. We loved the pleasantly sweet and nutty taste of this firm Tilkuts. They were so amazing that we even got some of them packed.
As the food tour kept extending with local inputs, we took another tea break to energise ourselves for the upcoming stops.
This was followed by aloo kachalu and some nimki. The former one, a spicy, tangy and savoury mix of boiled potatoes with spices that was served in a leaf plate.
Our penultimate stop was Jai shree Ram Tilkut Bhandaar. We were there to try a very special Bihari sweet called Anarsa. These ghee fried rice flour based dough balls were so delicious. We also tried some kala jamun and samosas that are the two best selling items at this place.
The final destination of this immersive food tour, that spanned for the whole day was aloo dum papdi chaat vendor. Both the dish and the vendor selling it were quite fascinating. This robust snack was a potpourri of nearly 4 to 5 curries.
With it we wrapped up this surfeit food tour that acquainted us with so many wonderful flavours contained in the lanes of Gaya.
About the host – Anubhav Sapra
Anubhav Sapra is an avid culinary explorer who loves to travel and explore different cuisine primarily the street food, not just for the sake of gustatory pleasure but also for quenching his deep thirst for nurturing new cultural connections through the kaleidoscopic canvas of food. He believes that the vibrant and delectable street food tradition across the globe has the power to bring communities together and foster harmonious human existence.
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Design and filmed by Rahul Singh
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Text by Swetaleena Nayak