Can Indore Be The Food Capital Of India?
Image Credit: Johny Hot Dog

Indore is the food capital of India! This is a tall claim; however, once you make a trip to Indore for its delicious street food and experience how Indore celebrates its love for flavours and culinary prowess, you will understand the rationale behind my claim.

Another reason Indore is hugely regarded for its food culture is the sense of taste that each food vendor in the city seems to possess. With its street food hubs like ‘Chappan Dukaan’ and the legendary ‘Saraffa Bazaar’ full of fantastic street food dishes, it would be fair to honour it as a city known for its culinary accolades.

It will take a few days to explore these food hubs in detail. However, you can start your culinary journey with ‘Chappan Dukaan’ for some of the best food dishes of Indore, as well as the relaxed vibe of the city. Set up in the posh neighbourhood, ‘Chappan Dukaan’ is the hangout spot for youngsters and families enjoying the various delicacies the market offers.

‘Johny Hot Dog’ is a must-visit place for anyone looking to get a foray into the city's street food culture. Although this famous food joint is named after American street food ‘Hot Dog’, the dish is very different from this western snack but is an in-house innovation in which the city of Indore takes great pride. Hot dogs at Johny Hot dog refers to a well-cooked and spiced mutton patty between a soft bun with chutney and onions. This simple preparation attracts many food lovers to this small joint exciting the culinary atmosphere of the market. Another dish you can try is ‘Egg Banjo’, which has an omellete in between a sliced bun and is loved by egg lovers.

At ‘Vijay Chaat House’, you can try the ‘Kopra Pattice’, a fried snack made from mashed potatoes stuffed with coconut shavings. These flavourful ‘Kopra Pattice’ has a huge fan following in Indore and is one of the anchor dishes of the famous Vijay Chaat House. 

You can eat some of the light and delicious ‘Kopra Pattice’ before trying their ‘Jalebis’. What surprised me the most was the beverage called ‘Shikanji’, which I had at Madhuram Sweets, don’t be fooled by the name; the name sounds similar to the lemon and water-based drink, however, ‘Shikanji in Indore refers to a sweet and delicious thickened milk-based drink. You got to try it to believe it. ‘Samay Sandwich’ is a small food cart serving crispy, buttery and cheesy vegetarian sandwiches, much to the delight of its patrons. There are wide varieties of sandwiches to choose from, which can be paired well with cold coffee served by vendors in the market. ‘Pav bhaji’, ‘Dosas’, ‘Omelettes’ and many other delicious street foods can be enjoyed at ‘Chappan Dukaan’. An Inspiring thing to observe in Indore is the cleanliness maintained by residents and the Municipal Corporation. You will find dustbins at convenient spots and garbage vans, making periodic visits to clean the streets. This combined effort of people and the authorities have led to Indore being awarded as the cleanest city in India, year after year.

While the ‘Chappan Dukaan’ outlets mostly close around 11 PM, there is no other food hub like the ‘Saraffa Bazaar’ for late-night food exploration. A jeweller’s market during the day turns into a bustling food street by night, offering unique and delicious street food all night long.

One of the must-try dishes at ‘Saraffa Bazaar’ is ‘Joshi Dahi Bada’. A visit to this legendary food joint of Indore will leave you impressed by the quality of the Dahi, the ‘Vada’, the variety of spices, and their hospitality. ‘Joshi Dahi Bada’ is famous for their unique style of serving the ‘Flying Vadas’, wherein each plate of these delicious vadas is thrown up in the air like a frisbee disk and unmistakably caught by the experienced Joshi Ji before he impresses you further with his sweet words and vadas.  Food served at ’Saraffa Bazaar’ tastes delicious, and the showmanship of service makes it a truly outstanding and memorable experience.

The ‘Pav-Bhaji’ lovers must try ‘A-one Pav Bhaji’ and ‘Sanwariya Pav Bhaji’ in the market. ‘Bhutte ki Kees’ and ‘Garadu’ are two unique dishes I tasted in ‘Saraffa Bazaar’. ‘Garadu’ is a yam-like vegetable which is deep fried to a crispy texture and served with chaat masala sprinkled on it. It is quite a delicacy and is often enjoyed in winter. ‘Bhutte ki Kees’ is made of grated corn kernels flavoured with spices. Corn is enriched with slow cooking in milk and tempered with Hing, Cumin seeds, Chillies, mustard seeds etc. This tasty dish is one of the famous dishes of Indore and is not just flavourful but also healthy.

There is hardly any vegetarian street food item not available in ‘Saraffa Bazaar’. You can try the grilled paneer ‘tikkas’, soya chaaps, and other exciting combinations of veggies roasted over the open charcoal fire. ‘Kachoris’ are another usual affair, especially during the morning hours. Coconut Shake attracts visitors with its innovative and exuberant process of preparation, with showmanship at the helm of affairs and the goodness of Coconut oozing from every sip of this healthy concoction, served in the coconut shell.

For desserts, don’t miss out on the ice creams available at ‘Aggarwal Ice cream’ or the small, round, delicious gulab jamuns served by many roadside vendors. ‘Indori Poha’ is another legendary food item which you must try. Many pan shops sell a variety of flavoured and attractive pans bringing up the colourful vibes of the ‘Saraffa Bazaar’.

Exploring the food hubs of ‘Chappan Dukaan’ and ‘Saraffa Bazaar’ in detail made me realise this unique fact about the food in Indore. Each food vendor has an excellent understanding of the taste people are looking for; thus, whatever the cuisine or the type of dishes on offer, the taste of Indore’s food is always on point. Be it the delicious breakfast dishes or the traditional meals for lunch and dinner, whether it is evening snacks or coffee and shakes, or it is the late-night food options cooked on a griddle or a grill, be it savoury or sweet, hot or cold, Indore’s food doesn’t cease to amaze. 

So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head straight to the food capital of India - Indore.

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