“Oh, you hold firmly to the chains, or else the Ganges will take you away”, chuckled a woman, as I stepped into the river to take a holy dip. As someone who has been skinny most of her life, these jokes weren’t new to me, I would hear it all the time, whether there was a warning about an upcoming storm, or when a speeding car crossed me by. Emerging out of the Ganges, I noticed a relatively obese man floating along with the stream, a little farther, shouting for help. Ganga does not discriminate in Haridwar, it roars and jolts its way to south. If you are lucky, like that man, you may find help from one of the thousands of devotees that flock ‘Har Ki Pauri’ every single day. However, a better idea would be to simply abide by the rules and routine. The mundane becomes magical in this little city, and you don’t want to disrupt any of it. Despite being one of the most pivotal and busiest Hindu pilgrimage sites, Haridwar has a reputation of being very well-planned city. The banks are crowded, the markets are no less, but the hustle-bustle is rarely as chaotic. It is a small city, so the locals tend to know each nook and cranny, and most of them are happy to help the tourists like us.

The street food of Haridwar is fairly renowned across the country. Besides the usual suspects like Kachori, Doodh, Jalebi, you find an array of unique street foods in the city. Food that is light, clean and satvik in nature. For instance, the Surje ki Dal. A special chaat item, that you can find Chowk Bazar. Boiled moong dal is pounded and mixed with tamarind water, spices, lime juice, roasted cumin powder, salt, roasted dry red chillies (for a smoky kick). The semi thick snack is served in a conical bowl made of Maljhan leaves. In addition to being so eco-friendly, the snack is also widely acclaimed for its health benefits. So much so that it is recommended by the health experts too. The snack is replete with protein of dal and the immunity-boosting properties of spices, tamarind and lemon. Besides, it is so delicious, that you would have it equally fervently, even if it didn’t boast any of these benefits.  

A video of Surja ki Dal went viral on YouTube. The video posted by food vlogger Amar Sirohi on his YouTube Channel ‘Foodie Incarnate’ has received more than 14 Million views in three days. In the short video we see the making of the iconic chat, that is made in three ways, one with khili hui dal (regular boiled dal), one with ghuti hui dal (pounded) and one with Khurchan (scraped). All these dals can be found in one brass pot, to be landed on fresh Maljhan leaves and seasoned with spices, chutney and roasted chilli. Have a look, doesn’t it look absolutely mesmerising?