Apart from all the history and the exquisite tales of the past, there was one more aspect of Mathura that we took delight in – Food!
Mathura has a lot to offer when it comes to eating out. But let me warn you beforehand, if you are one of those who prefer the luxury and ambiance of high end hotels, then the city will disappoint you big time. The only way to enjoy this small town, when talking of food, is by hanging out at those small roadside eating joints, very often with no names to swank of and at other times referred to as mishthan bhandars or bhojnalayas. A day here and you will realize that the true taste of Mathura lies out there – on the streets and in the lanes.
Let’s see what Mathura had for us in their Flavors Menu for the time that we spent in the city.
Just cannot be missed. Tucked in some corner with no nameplates, these small kiosks attract the biggest crowds, mostly localiites and some tourists as well. A fresh brew of ginger, cardamom and some other spices thrown in and served in either kulhads (earthen mugs) or glasses, a tea stall is not simply a tea stall here but one of the many ‘sights’ of Mathura.
A Tea Stall in MathuraIt is a place of social gathering for the locals and a great way to get a local feel for travelers like us. Of all the flavors of Mathura, this is definitely my pick of the lot and should not be missed for anything.
Where: Anywhere in the middle/corner of lanes, it will be very easy to spot them.
1. Kachori /Samosa
And tea, of course doesn’t stop there. It has to be continued with a host of snacks and nibbles and Mathura has them aplenty. Close to the tea stalls, there is a huge probability that you will find some snack being fried. Some popular ones include crispy kachoris, deep fried samosas and melt-in-the-mouth jalebis and they are usually delicious.
A Jalebis (left in the pic) and kachoris (next plate to the right)
stall near the tea shackTip: Gorge on them but don’t forget to wash all of it down with a hot cup of tea!
What and Where: Kachori at any one of the small hole-in-the-wall shops. Samosas at Shankar Mithaiwala, Holi gate.
2. Besides the Regional/Local Flavors --> Khaman Dhokla, Pohe
Mathura being the land of a Lord who enjoys a large follower base especially from the Gujarati sect of Hinduism, one can see a dominance of Gujarati flavors on its food. Thus, don’t be surprised if you bump in stalls selling the light-on-the-stomach khamans and dhoklas in the very same lanes selling north Indian specialties like kachoris and samosas.
Annapurna Khaman Dhokla House, Chatta Bazaar
Fresh Mosambi Juice at Annapurna HouseWe found one such shop in the lane leading upto the Vishram Ghat from the Holi Gate (Chatta Bazaar) and took delight in their soft and spongy khamans - freshly cooked and served hot in the mornings. What’s more, they also had my home food - Mumbai delicacy pohe (rice flakes)! So what if it was minus the onion, still it made me feel close to home! What: Pohe and Khaman. Their fresh fruit juices are also very good.Where: Annapurna Khaman Dhokla House, Chatta Bazaar. Mobile No.: +91 - 9760242967
Lunch and Dinner --> Gujarati Hindu Lodge
Street food sure does gratify the taste buds but nothing can beat the aroma of authentic cuisine. This is where Gujarati Hindu Lodge came in picture for us.Situated in a humble setting, this was our lunch and dinner jaunt in Mathura. The food is fresh, home-like with the usual thali platter -- 2 veggies, dal, rice and chappatis, served unlimited; everything is worth all the money spent!
Owner of the Gujarati Hindu Lodge posing for me!Address: In an adjacent lane leading upto the Vishram Ghat.
Thali Price: Rs. 50/head for adults. Rs. 30/head for children below 10 yrs.
Timings : 10 – 3 Morning; 6 – 9.30 Evening
Other Recommendations: Dalmiya Bhojanalya, near the Vishram Ghat for full Indian Thali. We have had food here the last time we visited the town and this one is pretty good too for authentic fare.
Mid Day Snacks
1. Pani Puri / Tikiya Chaats
Another popular street snack food of the northern region is Pani Puri. There are three good things with pani puris in general, one that it is easily available in almost every town in India, second that hardly anyone goes wrong with its taste and third and most important that you don’t really need any appetite for it. And for me personally, there is one more addition to the list - It’s my favorite! Hence I make it a point to find some good joints and have these sprout and mint flavored water dumplings whenever I can, wherever I can... in abundance!
A Pani Puriwala in the lanes of Chatta Bazaar,Where: Vishram Ghat, Chatta Bazaar.
Opposite Kanhaiya Cloth Market
2. Milk and Milk products/ Mithai shops
Living to its image of the town of a very mischievous Makhan chor (butter thief) Krishna, every other lane you enter in Mathura, you will find these sweet shops selling a variety of milk and milk based dairy products. Pure fat dairy delights like lassi (yoghurt based coolant), mava, khurchan, lal pedas, etc are just some of the regulars served in each of these shops. They do tempt your taste buds and it’s really hard not to get wooed by their aroma and scent.
Sweatmeat or Mithai shops and a glimpse of the variety of sweets they stack
Lal Peda, A famous specialty of Mathura - Just cannot be missed!
The coolant, lassi being whipped from fresh curd and waterTip: Eat and enjoy but remember to do everything in moderation as many synthetic ingredients are increasingly on a rampage in many cities today. Pick out a shop that has some crowd and is not completely empty. What: Lal Peda, LassiWhere: Shankar Mithaiwala - Holi Gate; Almost every lane you step in Mathura.
Brijwasi Royal Mithaiwala
A famous shop at the Holi Gate, Brijwasi Royal Mithaiwala is probably the biggest food shop that you will come across in Mathura. It has an array of items to pick out from ranging from sweets and snacks to beverages and flavored cold slush’s. Overall, it is a one stop shop for everything if you are too lazy to wander aimlessly on the roads searching for these!
A Peak into the Brijwasi Royal Mithaiwala, Holi GateAddress: Holi Gate.
So while in Mathura, its best that you leave your calorific meter behind and get your feet moving because that is certainly the best way to indulge in the authentic flavors of the town!