Varanasi is full of mysteries. You don’t know what you will stumble upon while scouring through the infinite lanes of the “Spiritual Capital of India”. The ghats, the temples, hustle-bustle of the city, sadhus, cows & buffaloes, and many more, are a sight to behold and relish. But one thing that connects everyone throughout the World is food. India is known to be one of the foodie’s paradise of the World, with its numerous offerings. Varanasi though, has its own set of amazing street foods to devour and fit the palate of anyone visiting this holy city. Let’s take a look at the best street food in Varanasi and where to find them.
Tamatar Chaat is one of my favorite chaats and is a mandatory must-have when I am in this city. Its a curry made out of tomatoes, potatoes, onion and spices. Its a bit spicy and tastes too good. I am sure you will not stop at just 1. The Aloo Tikki Chaat is another fantastic tid-bit. A potato cutlet is mixed with curd, sweet tamarind chutney, green chutney and topped with onion & radish.
Deena Chaat Bhandar is like an abode of Chats. You can get numerous options here. So pick and choose any which suits your fancy.
Another excellent find and I am sure, residents of Varanasi and the ones who have tasted it, will vouch for its authenticity and flavorful combination of potato kachori and chana curry. It is generally found during the morning hours and sell like hot cakes. You have to reach early or you might miss out on this delicacy. Although Ram Bhandar serves them throughout the day. These are the smaller ones. They also have a big Kachori as well, which is filled with lentils and served with a potato curry.
Where to eat: Ram Bhandar, Thatheri Bazar & a small street hawker near a cinema-turned-shopping complex. You can also get them in the famous Kachauri Gali.
You can find these with street hawkers lined up at the Chowk area. They sell at about Rs. 300-400 per kg and is not a street food as such, but you can take them to your home, add some lemon juice, salt, onion and green chillies, and you have a fantastic, healthy snack ready in under a minute. The chana is a little on the sweeter side and can be used a protein in a curry as well.
Now this place is unmissable and it would be a sin not to sip on a “kulhad” (earthen cup) of chai and eat a butter toast here. You get loads of butter on top and even on the inside of the toast (which they call it Underground toast). It’s like you are biting something divine with melted butter oozing out your mouth. You get two options with the butter, one Amul and the other white butter. The tea is average though. Do try Malai Toast if you like some sweet stuff.
Enough of chaats and spices. Make way for an incredible dairy dish, Malaiyo. It’s basically a milk foam that forms when milk, alongwith kesar (saffron) is whisked until foamy. It is then served in earthen bowls and is an absolute delight. You can find these only in Uttar Pradesh, but more commonly here as street food in Varanasi. In Kanpur, it is known as Nimish. These are prevalent during the winter season.
Where to find: Markandey Sardar Shop/Shreeji Sweets
With the abundance of milk in an around the city, Varanasi street food is incomplete without a glass of Lassi or Cold Coffee. They have so many varieties of Lassis that you are spoilt for choice. Apart from the fruity ones like Banana, Strawberry, Mango etc., you can also get Kalakand Lassi. Moreover, you can get Bhang (Cannabis or Marijuana) Lassi as well. You can get these all over the city but I am mentioning a few popular ones.
Cold Coffee: Om Cold Corner, near New Vishwanath Temple
Special Mention: Why I am mentioning this humble lemon tea in this list is purely because I love it. Set at the beautiful Assi Ghat, you can see a buzz at a tea stall. It’s because of the lovely tea they serve here. They add Hajmola (a digestive tablet) to the lemon tea, which gives a spicy, salty twist to it. The result is absolutely lip-smacking I would say.
Friend’s Tea Stall, Reewa Ghat
Psst: Do not forget the Benaras Ka Paan. You get these at every nook and corner of Varanasi and once you are done hogging these delectable street food of Varanasi, do give the Paan a try.