Sometimes one of the best things that job can offer you is the travel. It is especially a bonus when you are a travel enthusiast and love to explore new places and indulge in its authentic taste. I got a chance to visit Kanpur this week due to some office work. Let me just give you some fact check before we proceed to my favorite topic of food. So, Kanpur is the 12th largest city in India and among the most industrialized city in Uttar Pradesh. There are many legends about the origin of the name of the city. One of the legends says that city was given as a gift by Duryodhana to his friend Karna during the time of Mahabharata. It was at that time called as Karanpur, and with the change of generation and lingos, the name evolved into its present pronunciation as Kanpur. There is another legend about the city being called as Kanhaiyapur in the starting which was established by some Hindu King which was later known as Kanpur and when the Britishers came, they transformed the name according to their convenience as Cownpur and finally, the name got its present form as Kanpur.
The history of a place surely ignites the interest about anything associated with that place. The influence of different realms can be seen in the culture, rituals, and food of anyplace. The food in Kanpur definitely carries the taste of authentic north Indian flavor. As they say that the pure authentic food of any place especially in India is available on roadside rather than fancy hotels. Here also you can find mouth-watering delicacies on roadside stalls. They are as best as you can imagine them. No international chef can compete with that.
I reached here around 10 in the night so in the rush of getting to my place of stay I could not eat at any restaurant. I just got a paneer dosa packed so that I could eat it once I reach my room. I was supposed to stay at an office colleague’s spare apartment. So after changing to my utterly loose pajamas and two sized big t-shirt, I thought of relishing on the dosa that I had got. The first bite from the middle of the dosa, that I took unleashed the taste of many different ingredients in my mouth. I unfolded the layers of dosa to figure out it was an interesting combination of Indian and Chinese ingredients. There I found A lot of Paneer (Cottage Cheese) obviously, Then there was a lot of cabbage, come carrot, a little ginger, some soya sauce etc. It made me laugh a little. Such type of fusion experiments can only be found in such places in India. It was a little oily and sambhar was little spicy but overall it was great to have it in the night. I just ate it quickly and went to sleep as next morning I had to leave early for work. By early I mean by 7 am in the morning.
Next day one of my local colleagues came to receive me. I must say the rawness that still exists in the people here is very amusing. It is very earthy and it makes you feel that you have met some real people who are, not yet running in the rat race, even if they are the speed is same as that of other metropolitan cities. He very politely asked me if I had my breakfast. I obviously had no clue what to eat and where to find the breakfast this much early in the morning. I just moved my head in little yes. But he got the idea that I was just covering up so that we do not get late for the work. In the car, he told me once we are done with the work he would take me for the breakfast. After about two hours of work, we took the break around 10. He was little skeptical about taking me to any local shop. He was constantly asking me what I would like to have? Burger? Sandwich? Coffee? Chowmin? I was in no mood to have these things in the breakfast. So I told him why don’t you get me to place where I get to have something that has got the taste of Kanpur in it. And that my friends, was the moment when my amazing food journey started in this place. He told me to let us go to a place nearby. He added that it is not a very tidy place or not something like any of the fancy restaurants but it would definitely fulfill your desire of tasting something authentic of Kanpur. It was a small roadside eatery. He ordered two lassis. The lassi was served in Kullhads (earthen mugs). It was chilled. I could figure out the consistency of the lassi just by the look of it. It smelt great. There was a thick layer of cream over it which was mixed with khoya. The first sip that I took from that mug just put me into some other world. One reason, I was hungry like a pig since morning and other the taste of that lassi was something divine. I could feel the thick chilled lassi traveling down my food pipe, reaching my stomach and giving me some surreal eating experience that I was hoping for. I just drank it like mads. Once I was done with that, the hunger for more could be seen in my eyes. My colleague just playfully smiled at me and asked was it good? My expressions were enough to scream out a loud YES!. He ordered another round. It was same thick, chilled and creamy and you won’t believe it after that there was another round. My stomach was full of lassi and I could feel it moving inside me. My it was so refreshing. Never in my life, I had breakfast with just lassi. But it was too fulfilling.
Then in the evening, he took me to a very renowned sweet shop called Mithas Sweets. There we ate a lot of sweets like ras malai, rasgulla etc. Chena gillori is one of the must-try things of this shop. Besides serving the sweets, it also provides a lot of street food options like sabzi kachori, raj kachori etc. It is an overall experience of a good street food in Kanpur.
When I came here I had at least one thing on my bucket list which was to visit the very famous Thaggu Shop. Never heard it? If you have ever tried to know a little about Kanpur, this is one of the first things mentioned about the city. The association of the shop with Kanpur is such that it is mentioned in popular culture in several ways, in the very famous film bunty and bubbly. So, I got the chance to visit this much talked about a place on my second day of visit in the city. The most famous item of this shop is laddu, which is endearingly called as Thaggu k laddoo. The laddoo is rich in exotic dry fruits and is available in three varieties of kaju/pista/badaam mix. The rate of ladoo is definitely on a little higher side (around 540 per Kg.). I tried one laddoo of each kind and it was really very good. Even though you would feel that the recipe is now getting replicated in other parts of the country as well and you may relate the taste to some other kind of laddoos that you may have eaten at different places but it still contains some amount of authenticity only because of that they are famous till now. Another surprising item that nobody told me before was the Kulfi of this shop. Trust my guys if you every got to try this, you are going to have the best kulfi of your life. I wonder why this shop is famous for only laddoos, I mean, cmon this should be famous for kulfi as well. It was that good. Since I am writing about that amazingly gourmet kulfi, I am having cravings for that, but this is not the right time to go out. I hate this part about food writing. Gosh !
Anyways I have got two packets of laddoos packed for my family back in Delhi.
Like most of you people, I had only associated Biryani with Hyrdabad whole my life and as people have said it, I made this opinion in my mind that best Biryani can only be served in Hyderabad. So, when my colleague suggests me to have a biryani dinner that evening I was not very excited. He took me to a place called Baba Biryaani. The ambiance of that place was filled with the rich aroma of different Indian spices and smell of freshly cooked biryaani just makes your stomach crunch. This place offers a vast variety of biryanis at a very affordable price.
Having the opportunity to taste such wonderful flavors with my colleagues added some beautiful memories to my visit to Kanpur. I hope to continue my journey and share my experiences about the food of various places.