Sunday, 3 February 2013

Highway Dhabas….The Real Taste of India!: A Gastronomic Tour to Himachal Pradesh


A Dhaba in full swing, dishing out hot meals for all!

A cold and cozy whether with piping hot and delicious food is the best combination for any foodie!

And when it is served across a panaromic view of snow capped peaks and lush green fields….its a perfect "Sone Pe Suhaga" or the best of the best!

And this is what exactly you get everytime you stop across a Dhaba or a small highway roadside eatery,for a quick grub in Northern India!

We had just the experience on our tour to Himachal Pradesh to Dalhousie,Dharamshala(Naddi Village) and Shimla(Mashobra near Shimla)

Our first Gastronomic Himachali Treat happened at the Prince Bhojanalay , that was about 1 hour drive away from Dalhousie on Chandigarh –Dalhousie Highway! Ours was a very late lunch at around 4 pm , since we were on a continuous hunt for dhabas, that were very scarce on the route.

Finally , satisfied with the ambience and lack of options, we finally alighted at the fancily named Prince Bhojanalay!

A peculiar northern highway dhaba has an open platform with lots of steel vessels with lids,and necessarily equipped with a Tandoor! And beware,you might not be served with a smiling stewart with a menu card giving you a variety of options! But whatever options you get, would be really a delicious treat, and served fresh and piping hot!

Most Himachali Dhabas serve pure vegetarian food ,mainly having and options of 2-3 subjis (Mutter Paneer,Chole,Chana Masala etc) A Kaali Dal ( Maa Ki Dal), Kadhi , Sarsoon and Chawal,and ofcourse Hot Rotis ,served straight from the tandoor and Chawal!

Starving for the last few hours,we ordered whatever was in their running menu, namely,Aloo Mutter,Chana Masala,Dal ,Chawal and rotis!

I must say , it was the best Aloo mutter of my life…Mildly spiced gravy with sweet tender peas cooked to perfection!A slightly spicy Chana masala,perfectly complimented it and the hot puffed tandoori rotis…..No wonder you tend to eat more in winters! The Kaali Dal and Chawal ,were a perfect way to end the meal.

And by the time it was time for us to settle the bill and leave, a sweet and spicy aroma of a "Kadak Masalardar"Chai (hot and spicy Tea) gripped us! In the cold chilly winds, with our bodies barely able to adjust to the cold whether ,we just couldn’t overcome the temptation of devouring a hot Cuppa as our dessert! What and Irony!

It was indeed the best Chai….Not only it offered some respite from the cold winds that were numbing our finger tips ,but it served perfect replacement for a dessert! We just couldn’t stop ourselves from asking them what masala they used…And they humbly replied.."Kuch Nahi Madam,sirf Adrak Dala hain"(we used only ginger)…And we still aren’t able to figure out , how the same ginger gives different taste there , than our homes! And the chai tastes just the same everywhere in Himachal…..Guess its their secret breeed of Ginger!

Today,after days of holidays, I m back at Home Sweet Home, but apart from all the fun and adventure ,what I shall always remember and cherish is the warmth and homely feel which these humble dhabas offered, and ofcourse a simple but delicious meal ,that anyone else will seldom be able to replicate!

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