WORDS: AMIT GAIKWAD
PHOTOGRAPHER: VIKRANT KHARAT
GREAT FROM: Mumbai
GREAT FOR: Sampling a wide variety of street food
The concept of a home stay isn’t really new, but what is new and exciting is the idea of a home stay that includes embarking on a unique, exciting culinary journey with a chef. “Stay with a chef” is a concept developed by Chef Amit Pamnani and is perfect for those who wish to explore Indore’s many delightful culinary offerings. A professional chef for the last 20 years, Chef Pamnani has travelled the world, sampling a wide variety of flavours. During his travels, he always felt the absence of a guide who could direct him to local places that are well-known and well-loved for a specific cuisine or a dish. And, thus, the “Stay with a chef” idea was born. As part of the experience, you’re put up in a lovely, comfortable space in his house, and you set out with him to explore the true flavours of local cuisine.
Indore’s cuisine is majorly influenced by the flavours of its neighbouring states and you’ll need two to three days to try them all. Once you’ve settled in, he will chart out an itinerary that includes the city’s must-visit eateries, iconic restaurants and markets. You begin your journey with a visit to Sarafa Bazaa. Famous for its chaat, the bazaar is a jewellery market by day and a street-food haven once the sun goes down. Allow Chef Pamnani to pick the aloo tikki and bhutte ka kees (corn pattice) for you. Try and not call for second helpings since there’s a lot more to feast on. As you move further down the street, you’ll find an old man, easily over 70, who calls out to customers in fluent English. He’s known for bhutte ka kees and the garadu, which is simply, the humble yam fried to perfection and topped with a variety of spices and a little lemon juice. If you still have room for more, try some decadent malpua-rabdi. You’ll go to sleep happy, stuffed and wondering what other culinary delights await you in the city.
The following morning, follow Chef Pamnani to Jain Mithai Bhandar (JMB) for a typical Indori breakfast. The local favourite, poha-usal, is a must-try. The usal (a spicy runny gravy) is served with poha (flattened rice), which is then topped with crunchy farsan and some pomegranate seeds, lending it just the right mix of sweet and spicy. Don’t forget to call for a cutting chai at the end – it’s the final element for breakfast done right, the Indori way. Kill some calories post breakfast – go shopping. The organic market, Jaivik Setu, is just as perfect for picking up fresh fruits and veggies as it is for a late-morning stroll. Take your time as you walk around all the fresh, green produce on display and exchange pleasantries with people taking home bagfuls to cook up feasts, both big and small.
Reserve your evening for a trip to the 56 Dukan area. Under Chef Pamnani’s direction, try the mutton ‘hot dog’ and the egg mutton banjo at a famous local joint. Mark the perfect end to your evening with the famous shahi shikanji at Madhuram Sweets.
Apart from taking foodies on food tours, Chef Pamnani also hosts cooking workshops. Learn to make quick and easy recipes, led step-by-step so you can fool yourself into thinking that you could be a chef yourself. As you bid goodbye to Chef Pamnani, you’ll be doing it with a heavy heart, and a heavy stomach, taking home plenty of memories of stuffing yourself silly and discovering the true taste of all things Indori.