Udaipur’s Kulhad Coffee And The Rise Of The Bombay Bazaar
Image Credit: Udaipur’s Kulhad Coffee

Many unforgettable food and travel stories find their plot and setting in the memorable experience of savouring the classic jugalbandi of a steaming hot beverage while looking at a breathtaking view. I vividly remember feasting my eyes on the snow-capped peak of Kanchenjunga while sipping the soul-soothing Darjeeling tea or a hot cup of south Indian filter coffee on the Rock beach of Pondicherry. I rejoiced in a similar experience when I tasted the famous Kulhad coffee at the Bombay Bazaar beside the serene Fateh Sagar Lake in Udaipur.  This Unique bazaar in Rajasthan’s hill-blanketed city, Udaipur, is a foodie’s dream come true.

After seven years, I was visiting the same place, but something had changed. From an area sprawled with usual eateries, it had now transformed into a buzzing, vibrant food hub bustling with high-spirited foodies of all ages relishing the freshly prepared street food items while admiring the lake's tranquil waters.

I was particularly attracted to the Kulhad coffee shop when I went around exploring the various food stalls. Yes, I have used coffee and kulhad in the same sentence! Being surprised and curious at the same time is not your fault, I was in a similar state when I ordered a Kulhad Coffee from Sai Sagar Café. This cafe sells piping hot coffee topped with a creamy foam, drizzled generously with chocolate syrup and chocolate powder, and poured into the earthen cup or kulhad. Usually, the earthen cups, or kulhads, are known for their soulful matrimony with Chai, or in some states, with milk (Kadhai Milk); however, to imagine coffee in a Kulhad was a wacky thought!

“Eight to ten years back, nothing much happened here,” said Balaji, owner of the iconic Sai Sagar Café at The Bombay Bazaar. Balaji’s unique innovation with coffee, its premium quality, and its excellent service paid dividends, resulting in the extreme popularity of the café and an increase in the number of foodies lining up for their evening Cuppa or instead, to put it correctly, their ‘Kulhads’. 

Balaji’s son Shubhang’s unique innovation in creating a perfect blend multiplied the market’s revenue and gave him the monopoly in Kulhad coffee. “We mix Indian and international varieties of coffee to create a perfect blend. When we started, it took us 18 months of trial and error, but the city welcomed the remarkable result”, the very humble Mr. Balaji explained. 

Balaji gives the credit to Maharaj Kunwar Lakshya Raj Singh Mewar, who is also the president of Maharana Pratap Smarak Samiti (The trust which owns the land where Bombay bazaar stands) for his vision and support for the growth of this culinary and tourist hub. 

The Bustling Bombay Bazaar

Cafe grub like Maggi, Sandwiches, Burgers, Paneer Tikkas, Pav Bhaji, and Chinese Snacks are the top favourites of Fatehsagar lake patrons. ‘Chur Chur Naan With Handi Paneer’ reads the board of a food joint, announcing another popular combination, with Pasta, Pizza and Masala Dosa making up the multicuisine gamut, Bombay Bazaar is bustling with business.

The taste trends in this iconic lakefront market resonate with the desi crowd and are often customised to the palate. And to lend a desi beat to this vibrant foodie hub of Udaipur, there is a separate small chaupati Just for the ‘Chaat’ vendors, leaving no stone unturned to justify the name ‘Bombay Bazaar’.

Bombay Bazaar’s most attractive feature is the satisfied visitors. They take pride in the city’s relaxed vibe and enjoy the bounty of nature, delicious desi food, and the unique offering of the market, which has single-handedly led to the popularity of the market itself; “The Kulhad Coffee”. 

The smell of petrichor on a rainy winter night spent hand-hugging the warm earthenware cup is a memory that makes us appreciate the timeless company of nature and its power to heal and uplift. “Living in the moment - with coffee in a kulhad” can there be anything more rejuvenating than that?

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