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VIDYARTHI BHAVAN, BANGALORE
It is a humble little place, the entrance to which is hidden behind a flower market that lends a touch of colour to the otherwise unremarkable street this legendary place sits on in Bangalore. It has a very limited menu. The prices are incredibly low and the service is fast but the dosas. . . ahhhhh... the dosai are incredible. There are a few variants of the dosa here, each of which is worth a try. Depending on the time and season the menu varies but each time you eat here be ready to receive a juggernaut of taste. This is one of those old places that just cannot be overlooked when you talk of food in Bangalore.
KESAR DHABA, AMRITSAR
Located near the Golden temple, this small dhaba has been around for as long as anyone can remember. Ask a resident in Amritsar to guide you to it and he/she WILL know. Its legendary daal and awesome missi roti make this place the quintessential dhaba experience. In case you're one of those who have never enjoyed baingan ka bharta, this is your chance to make your mother proud. Order it. Trust us this is the best you'll ever have. It also has one of the most photogenic kitchens in the country. A break in the roof at one end lets in the light that falls fortuitously onto the guy whose sitting making rotis. Through the kitchen smoke it's a dramatic beam that shines on the gentleman we've now started calling the divine roti maker for his amazing rotis and his very own spotlight every day. A must do: Add to this mix the irrepressible Punjabi spirit and the desire to eat as much as you can in the shortest time possible while talking all the time (something that most of the clientele do throughout the meal) and you have an experience that only apna Punjab can offer.
MAHAKALI SEV USAL, BARODA
It is possibly the tastiest Sev Usal money can buy you in India. The thronging crowds on this street-side raedi (cart) testify to this. They have now started serving their sev usal in a small pukka shop as well but the charm of eating the sev usal on the street is more. The fiery chutneys they serve as accompaniments are awesome. Just a word, if you don't like spicy food, be prepared to take along plenty of water because you will not be able to stop eating this delicious treat. This staple is a favourite breakfast and then a favourite snack through the day and typifies the reason why Indian street food is loved the way it is. It's hugely spiced, served hot, eaten fresh and one serving is never enough. You may have eaten Sev Usals that are very good but this one is in a class of its own. Don't take our word for it, try it yourself.
SAVAGE GARDEN, UDAIPUR
It may not be your typical 'dhaba' but it has a completely unique place in Indian eateries. As you enter this eatery, located near Chandpole, through a narrow street and through an inconspicuous doorway, you enter a small slice of heaven. Mediterranean blue walls, unique dêcor and an ambience that most 5-stars die trying to emulate, this place is truly restful for the soul. The small marble fountain with its gentle gurgling transports you to a more graceful and tranquil place. Great continental food, very reasonable prices. Visit it for some tranquillity in hectic Udaipur. Don't miss the salmon steak! The staff is amazingly well trained and knowledgeable about the food they serve. You have an option of sitting on the ground floor level in the cool shade of a flowering bougainvillea or else move up to the marbled floors on top which are tastefully decorated and fluctuate between an Arabian Nights dream and a cool Mediterranean eatery.
HOTEL PARAKH, KOLHAPUR
The legendary spicy cuisine of Kolhapur does not disappoint. The staple here is meat, chicken and fish along with pandhra rassa (see pic) and tambra rassa, the two delicious spicy watery curries that accompany all Kolhapuri meals. A typical serving includes your choice of meat served along with your choice of curry and you dip your bhakri (roti) into the rassa along with a hearty chunk of meat. The favourite accompaniment to all of this, of course, is the thecha. It is prepared by crushing raw peanut with garlic and green chillies and flash fried to produce this amazing accompaniment. Parakh is easily the most famous of Kolhapuri eateries and adheres to the traditional Kolhapuri style of cooking. Like their food, the people of this great city, too, are spicy. Be prepared for hectic debates bordering on arguments all around you and if the Kolhapuri chappals start flying, just duck in between bites.
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