Baati - Chokha- The Traditional Meal of Eastern Uttar Pradesh
Image Credit: Bati chokha thali at the famous restaurant

‘When in Rome, do what the Romans do’. Going by the age-old saying, trying out the traditional ‘Baati Chokha’ in Varanasi is a must. Arguably Varanasi’s most famous and favoured restaurant for traditional meals, ‘Baati chokha’, has attained the status as the top most recommended place to enjoy the flavours of Eastern Uttar Pradesh in Varanasi.

‘Baati Chokha’ – is the flagship dish of the ‘Bhojpuri’ cuisine, which predominantly represents the cuisine of eastern Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar. ‘Baatis’ are made out of wheat flour dough and cooked on an open fire made out of either wood or coal and is often fuelled with cow dung, a unique method of cooking, providing it with a distinct smoky flavour.

Intrigued by this preparation method, we visited the exquisite ‘Baati Chokha’ restaurant. At the complex's entrance, we saw a huge grill over which two men continuously turned the round, semi-cooked Baatis. “In about 8-10 minutes, ‘Baatis’ would be ready”, replied the senior in charge, responsible for dishing out the amazing ‘Baatis’ served at this iconic restaurant.

Gauging our deep interest in exploring the authentic cuisine served at ‘Baati-Chokha’, we were ushered in and escorted to the first floor of the restaurant, where a big and beautiful hall, decorated with a traditional set-up, giving it a rural as well as comfortable dining set up. The place was packed, despite having a huge sitting capacity (Upwards of 200 people can sit and dine). We sat down squatting on the floor, on a cushioned ‘gaddi’, and service resumed, quickly filling up our ‘Thali’ with multiple dishes.

‘Baati Chokha’ offers different sets of meals, and depending on your preference, you can choose- ‘Baati Chokha Thali’, ‘Khichadi Thali’, ‘Roti Thali ‘or a ‘Dal Poori Thali’. As we wanted to explore the cuisine in depth, we ordered each of these 'Thalis’ for our group to try. While certain snacks, beverages, accompaniments and sweets were common to all 'Thalis', there were distinct features of each of the combinations served to us.

Roti Thali

To make things sweeter, we ended our meal with a combination of irresistible desserts served at ‘Baati Chokha’. We tried a trio of ‘Moong Dal ka Halwa’, ‘Kheer’ and ‘Churma’. Woah! As I wrote this sentence, my mouth watered, imagining the taste of the ‘Desi Ghee ka Moong Dal Halwa’. The texture and flavours of this sweet preparation were bang on! It was simply addictive; we asked for repeats!

Each ‘Thali’ is priced at Rs 325. At such reasonable prices, enjoying the array of traditional dishes from the region certainly leaves you with no reason to miss this authentic and memorable dining experience. Varanasi as a city offers a wide range of culinary marvels for you to enjoy; with such a positive environment all around this epic town on the banks of the holy river Ganga, visiting ‘Baati Chokha’ Restaurant will undoubtedly aid the sense of satisfaction you get as you explore the ancient city of Banaras. It's truly a gastronomical delight!

Sidharth Bhan Gupta is a Hospitality/F&B Consultant travelling across India exploring regional cuisines.