A Moveable Feast

By day, Indore’s Sarafa bazaar is full of jewellery shops. At night, it turns into a food lover’s delight.

Written by Paroma Mukherjee | New Delhi | Published:May 1, 2016 12:00 am
A chaat vendor serves his clientele. A chaat vendor serves his clientele.

A couple of years ago, on a shoot in Indore, I found that I had a fair amount of time to spare on the last day. After visiting a couple of striking ruins of structures built by the Holkars, I was famished. I didn’t think anything of Indore’s food scene (considering most of the food is vegetarian, and I’m not) until “Sarafa” came up on an internet search.

A young Gujjar boy and his mobile pani puri stall. A young Gujjar boy and his mobile pani puri stall.

My friend and I were told that by day, Sarafa bazaar was a lane full of jewellery shops that transformed into a vibrant street food haven by night. We were sure that this was some kind of an urban myth to make the city sound cool, and so we decided to check it out at 10 pm.

Inside an “exclusive” samosa shop. Inside an “exclusive” samosa shop.

Sure enough, it was crowded, noisy and full of life. From teenagers to families alike, everyone was there to down as much food as they could. On offer at Sarafa was poha, malpua, gulab jamun, jalebi and khoya, bhutte ka kees, dahi vadas, roasted peanuts, pani puris (up to eight flavours!), sandwiches (Bombay style), chhole tikkis, hot dogs and sabudana vadas.

A couple out for a midnight snack. A couple out for a midnight snack.

Having grown up in Bombay and now living in Delhi since the past eight years, I had thought that India couldn’t do street food any better. Sarafa in Indore won hands down. My favourite was, of course, the bhutte ka kees (grated white corn cooked with milk and spices), and if gluttony had a face, it was mine.

The author is a Delhi-based independent photographer.

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