George Bernard Shaw had said, ‘There is no love sincerer than the love of food.’ For, it is food that can keep itself alive in memory with the taste and flavour and makes you visit those memories again and again. Once you have indulged in the richness of spices, ghee and sweets in Bikaner, you would keep going back to those moments and places.
Despite being a dry place and hence a lot of dry foods finding a place in its cuisine, the local Bikaneri preparations maintain the harmony among the ingredients, which at many other places is unthinkable sans tomato, with generous use of clarified butter or ghee. The sweets here are equally sumptuous and balance out the spiciness of food very well to give you an unforgettable gastronomic experience. Here’s where to head when you visit this town.
Street food near Karni Mata Temple
Those familiar with Rajasthan and its food must have already gorged on the popular pyaaz kachoris and daal ones on several occasions. But I bet you haven’t yet feasted on the daal-pyaaz combo kachoris. After you have braved the rats at Karni Mata Temple, give yourself a much-deserved treat at one of the food stalls near the temple premises. Though you can try out a lot of Rajasthani dishes like tamatar-sev sabzi or mangodi for a meal, daal-pyaaz kachori with four chutneys and dahi will leave you salivating and tempted for more.
Chotu Motu Joshi
This ordinary-looking, blink-and-you-miss-it restaurant-cum-sweet shop on station road has been a favourite among the locals and tourists alike to enjoy the Rajasthani or Bikaneri cuisine. Without burning even the smallest of holes in your pocket, this place can fill you up with its sabzi-poori or poori-bhaaji, Bikaneri methidaana sabzi, silky smooth kulfi, rasmalai and more. What the place might lack in look and amenities, it more than makes up for in flavours. Also, do not forget to pick the famous Bikaneri bhujia and papads in bulk for friends and folks back home as we are sure even more would be less.
Situated right in front of the Junagarh fort, Gallops is your typical Rajasthani-styled place with a relaxed ambience and luxurious old-world seating, with the view of the fort as bonus. It is quite famous for its espresso, chicken tikka and outdoor seating where you can enjoy the weather, view and chat about everything important or otherwise. In case you want to give your taste buds a break from the spicy local cuisine, Gallops’ pizzas, wraps, sandwiches and Chinese preparations would come in quite handy with a pint of chilled lager.
Laxmi Niwas Palace
Indulge in an evening of entertainment just like the erstwhile royals and dine like them too. A solo date with food or a romantic dinner for two, this place doesn’t let you down. You can start the evening by sitting in the open, sipping some wine and enjoying soulful music accompanied by folk dance. That should set the mood for a lavish dinner of creamy kebabs, lal maas, chicken in cashew nut gravy, gatte ki sabzi, kair sangri, papad ki sabzi, daal-baati-churma, baajre ki roti and a lot more to choose from the specially-crafted royal menu. With most of the preparations using pure ghee, the spread does leave you satisfied in both stomach and soul.
If you thought that the fight over rasgulla was between Bengal and Orissa, it is time to make it three-pronged one. Enter the lesser-known counterpart – Bikaneri rasgulla. The soft and spongy melt-in-your-mouth delicacy here is so flavoursome and fresh that for a moment you might forget all about your diets and waistline. One of the oldest places in Rani Bazaar area of old Bikaner, Chappan Bhog is your go-to place for all things sweet and savoury. Be it chaats, Bikaneri sweets or snacks, this place spoils you for choice. Do not miss their special raaj kachori and get the rasgullas packed to take back for opinions; if you could stand the temptation of travelling without popping a couple or more into your own mouth.