Varanasi food trail
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_message message_box_style="outline" style="square" message_box_color="juicy_pink" icon_fontawesome="fa fa-cutlery"]At a glance: Where to go for local food in Varanasi
  • Dashwamedha Ghat - Madhur Milan, Kashi Chat House, Deena Chat Bhandar, Blue Lassi
  • Chowk area - Ram Bhandar (Thatheri Bazaar), Deena Chat Bhandar (Nariyal Gali), Shri Rajbandhu Sweets (Kachori Gali), Laxmi Chai Waale
[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]My maiden trip to Benaras or Varanasi in July 2015, was to attend the wedding of a close college friend. Excited about finally walking the ghats and gallis of this ancient city, I took in the sights and smells of this temple town with its stories of yogis on the ghats, of tourists and the devout both flocking to see the evening aarthi on the banks of India’s most holy river, the Ganga, its Benarasi sari heritage, and its warm and hospitable residents.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Worshippers-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" target="_blank" caption_location="outside-image"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/The-ghat-the-Ganga-and-the-sky-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The next morning, as I took an autorickshaw to travel to its famous ghats and the holy Kashi Vishwanath temple, what was striking was the similarity that the local architecture and old city have to the Chandni Chowk area in Old Delhi. The same narrow lanes and by-lanes, flanked on both sides by two to three storey buildings, housing small eateries that spill out onto the pathway. Many of these buildings open into a large central courtyard with rooms on all sides. Even culturally, the similarities were striking – constant friendly banter between the locals who have known each other for years, adda sessions in progress, children playing around. It was déjà vu – my memories of Chandni Chowk go back many decades, when as a 5-6 year old I would visit my dadi’s (maternal grandmother’s) ancestral house for festivals. Being in Benaras brought all those buried memories back.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/3"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Shrine-in-lane-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="300" image_height="Auto" crop="false" target="_blank"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/3"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Lane-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="300" image_height="Aoto" crop="false" target="_blank" align="center"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/3"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Post-Office-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="300" image_height="Auto" crop="false" target="_blank" caption_location="outside-image" align="right"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Some of the ghats, especially Assi Ghat, are quite clean, thanks to a recent cleanliness initiative (though the rest of the city could do with some love and attention on the hygiene front). Sitting on the steps, watching the sun as it rises over the river is a calming experience especially if you get there before the hustle bustle of the day begins. The ghats provide quite a few photo-ops with children playing in the water, boats setting out for a tour and other activities such as barbers at work.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/The-river-Ganga-and-the-sky-1-Assi-Ghat-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" target="_blank" caption_location="outside-image"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Shrine-on-Ganga-1-Assi-Ghat-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" target="_blank" caption_location="outside-image" align="right"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Food was clearly on my mind, as we finished our round of visiting the glats, the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Shani temple. With a list of eateries to visit, we knew where to head and what to eat. Here’s a quick list of the must-have food while enjoying Varanasi. Puri Subzi is the typical Benarasi breakfast to have though the subzi can be had with puris or kachoris. A kachori is a puri with a stuffing of daal. Usually fried right before your eyes, these hot and crisp delicacies are to be had with a flavourful gravy called aloo rassa. Sometimes, the desire to have more of this gravy has kept me eating way past the should-not-eat-more stage. Though this can be had at any small joint, Ram Bhandar in Chowk or Madhur Milan near Dashwamedha ghat are particularly famous.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Puri-Sabzi-Ram-Bhandaar-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" link="https://www.talkingstreet.in/outlet/ram-bhandar-varanasi" target="_blank" desc="Puri-Sabzi at Ram Bhandar (click on image)" caption_location="outside-image" align="center"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Rajasthan-Special-Jelabi-Kachori-Indira-Nagar-Bangalore-2.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" target="_blank" desc="Kachoris in Varanasi " caption_location="outside-image" align="center"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Most of the breakfast joints also serve crispy, syrupy, hot jalebis that are perfect to end the I’m-already-stuffed breakfast adventure. Do ensure that the jalebi has had time to soak in the sugar syrup, else it might be a tad bland, as was the case with the bunch we had.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Jalebis-1-Ram-Bhandar-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" link="https://www.talkingstreet.in/outlet/ram-bhandar-varanasi" target="_blank" desc="Jalebis at Ram Bhandar (click on image)" caption_location="outside-image" align="center"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Malpua-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" desc="Malpua at Varanasi " caption_location="outside-image" align="center"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The other way to end a typical Benarasi breakfast is to have a kullhad (earthen glass) of thick, cardamom flavoured lassi topped with a generous helping of malai or cream and a few drops of rose-water. I had it at a small joint close to Ram Bhandar but Lassiwala near Assi Ghat or Blue Lassi in Vishwanath Gali are sought after for the variety of lassis on offer. Another must-try item at these lassi joints is their Thandai – milk flavoured with a variety of spices. Enroute to anywhere you’re likely to cross one of Varanasi’s many misthan bhandaars that serve delicious sweets all day round. Do try the malpuas, gulab jamuns and lal pedhas.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Thick-Lassi-Lassi-Shop-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" target="_blank" desc="Thick Lassi at the Lassi Shop" caption_location="outside-image" align="center"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Dahi-Lassi-Shop-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" target="_blank" desc="Fresh Dahi at the Lassi Shop" caption_location="outside-image" align="center"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Chaat is among the other foods that Varanasi is known for. Right from aloo tikki – potato patties served with chickpea curry and topped with chutneys, to pani puri and papdi chaat, there’s a huge variety of chaats to try. Kashi Chaat Bhandaar is a popular destination near Dashwamedha ghat for all these and the must-try Tamatar Chaat (Tomato Chaat).[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Chaat-Ajay-Samosa-Chaat-Koramangala-Bangalore.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" target="_blank" desc="Samosa Chaat " caption_location="outside-image" align="center"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Pani-Puri-Sandeep-Pani-Puri-Koramangala-Bangalore.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" target="_blank" desc="Pani Puri" caption_location="outside-image" align="center"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Also unique to Benaras is this butter toast called safed makhhan toast. Thick, local bread toasted over live coal, and then slathered with a supremely-generous helping of white butter or regular butter, depending on your taste preferences. Ask for a little salt and pepper with the white butter. Laxmi Chai Waale is the place to visit for this. This popular joint also serves tea – deeply boiled, strong and sweet tea made over a coal stove and served in an earthen kullhad, which the locals love to have as they discuss the affairs of the city.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Safed-Makhhan-Toast-Laxmi-Chal-Waale-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" target="_blank" desc="Safed Makkhan Toast at Laxmi Chai Wale" caption_location="outside-image" align="center"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/White-butter-toast-1-Laxmi-Chai-Wale-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" target="_blank" desc="White Butter Toast at Laxmi Chai Wale" caption_location="outside-image" align="center"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_padding_divider size="30"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Other images of food from the streets of Varanasi.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Jalebis-being-made-2-Ram-Bhandar-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" link="https://www.talkingstreet.in/outlet/ram-bhandar-varanasi" target="_blank" desc="Fresh Jalebis at Ram Bhandar (click on image)" caption_location="outside-image" align="center"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2"][mk_image src="http://talkingstreet.in/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Boiled-Tea-Coal-Fired-stove-Varanasi.jpg" image_width="400" image_height="Auto" crop="false" target="_blank" desc="Chai in Varanasi " caption_location="outside-image" align="center"][/vc_column][/vc_row]



At a glance: Where to go for local food in Varanasi

  • Dashwamedha Ghat - Madhur Milan, Kashi Chat House, Deena Chat Bhandar, Blue Lassi
  • Chowk area - Ram Bhandar (Thatheri Bazaar), Deena Chat Bhandar (Nariyal Gali), Shri Rajbandhu Sweets (Kachori Gali), Laxmi Chai Waale




My maiden trip to Benaras or Varanasi in July 2015, was to attend the wedding of a close college friend. Excited about finally walking the ghats and gallis of this ancient city, I took in the sights and smells of this temple town with its stories of yogis on the ghats, of tourists and the devout both flocking to see the evening aarthi on the banks of India’s most holy river, the Ganga, its Benarasi sari heritage, and its warm and hospitable residents.






The next morning, as I took an autorickshaw to travel to its famous ghats and the holy Kashi Vishwanath temple, what was striking was the similarity that the local architecture and old city have to the Chandni Chowk area in Old Delhi. The same narrow lanes and by-lanes, flanked on both sides by two to three storey buildings, housing small eateries that spill out onto the pathway. Many of these buildings open into a large central courtyard with rooms on all sides. Even culturally, the similarities were striking – constant friendly banter between the locals who have known each other for years, adda sessions in progress, children playing around. It was déjà vu – my memories of Chandni Chowk go back many decades, when as a 5-6 year old I would visit my dadi’s (maternal grandmother’s) ancestral house for festivals. Being in Benaras brought all those buried memories back.








Some of the ghats, especially Assi Ghat, are quite clean, thanks to a recent cleanliness initiative (though the rest of the city could do with some love and attention on the hygiene front). Sitting on the steps, watching the sun as it rises over the river is a calming experience especially if you get there before the hustle bustle of the day begins. The ghats provide quite a few photo-ops with children playing in the water, boats setting out for a tour and other activities such as barbers at work.






Food was clearly on my mind, as we finished our round of visiting the glats, the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Shani temple. With a list of eateries to visit, we knew where to head and what to eat. Here’s a quick list of the must-have food while enjoying Varanasi.

Puri Subzi is the typical Benarasi breakfast to have though the subzi can be had with puris or kachoris. A kachori is a puri with a stuffing of daal. Usually fried right before your eyes, these hot and crisp delicacies are to be had with a flavourful gravy called aloo rassa. Sometimes, the desire to have more of this gravy has kept me eating way past the should-not-eat-more stage. Though this can be had at any small joint, Ram Bhandar in Chowk or Madhur Milan near Dashwamedha ghat are particularly famous.


Puri-Sabzi at Ram Bhandar (click on image)


Kachoris in Varanasi


Most of the breakfast joints also serve crispy, syrupy, hot jalebis that are perfect to end the I’m-already-stuffed breakfast adventure. Do ensure that the jalebi has had time to soak in the sugar syrup, else it might be a tad bland, as was the case with the bunch we had.


Jalebis at Ram Bhandar (click on image)


Malpua at Varanasi


The other way to end a typical Benarasi breakfast is to have a kullhad (earthen glass) of thick, cardamom flavoured lassi topped with a generous helping of malai or cream and a few drops of rose-water. I had it at a small joint close to Ram Bhandar but Lassiwala near Assi Ghat or Blue Lassi in Vishwanath Gali are sought after for the variety of lassis on offer. Another must-try item at these lassi joints is their Thandai – milk flavoured with a variety of spices. Enroute to anywhere you’re likely to cross one of Varanasi’s many misthan bhandaars that serve delicious sweets all day round. Do try the malpuas, gulab jamuns and lal pedhas.


Thick Lassi at the Lassi Shop


Fresh Dahi at the Lassi Shop


Chaat is among the other foods that Varanasi is known for. Right from aloo tikki – potato patties served with chickpea curry and topped with chutneys, to pani puri and papdi chaat, there’s a huge variety of chaats to try. Kashi Chaat Bhandaar is a popular destination near Dashwamedha ghat for all these and the must-try Tamatar Chaat (Tomato Chaat).


Samosa Chaat


Pani Puri


Also unique to Benaras is this butter toast called safed makhhan toast. Thick, local bread toasted over live coal, and then slathered with a supremely-generous helping of white butter or regular butter, depending on your taste preferences. Ask for a little salt and pepper with the white butter. Laxmi Chai Waale is the place to visit for this. This popular joint also serves tea – deeply boiled, strong and sweet tea made over a coal stove and served in an earthen kullhad, which the locals love to have as they discuss the affairs of the city.


Safed Makkhan Toast at Laxmi Chai Wale


White Butter Toast at Laxmi Chai Wale




Other images of food from the streets of Varanasi.


Fresh Jalebis at Ram Bhandar (click on image)


Chai in Varanasi
Location:
Varanasi
Cuisine:
North Indian Chaat
Chaat
North-Indian
North Indian Sweets
Tea / Coffee
Maheima Kapur

About the author

Fanatic street foodie. Crazy about nature. Fond of dancing and writing. Learning photography. Founder, Talking Street.
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