THIS was definitely not the first time I visited the ‘Sarafa Bazaar‘. Sarafa means ‘Jewelers’ and Bazaar meaning ‘Market’ which means essentially a Jewelers Market. Wait, did I say it was a foodies paradise ? Well, it is exactly that ! Welcome to Sarafa Bazaar, one of India’s unique prodigious retail symbiotic business model. When I visited this place for the first time, the association on display between the tradesmen of the city of Indore left me truly spellbound.
The Sarafa Bazaar is a Jewelers Street in any other city of India. An important part of unorganized retail, also a perfect reflection of the way trade was carried out in ancient times, shops trading in a similar commodity tend to be bunched up in a single lane.
During the day the street is bursting with activity as hundreds travel from nearby villages to invest in gold and other precious metals. As the day turns the sparkle of ornaments and jewels is taken over by shining lights that are temporarily set up by the street food vendors. The Sarafa Bazaar operates from 9 pm till the wee hours every day. As the jewelers wrap their days business they shut their shops draw the shutters closed and make space for the vendors to set up their shops.
Street food in India is fast, slightly messy extremely delicious and unbelievably popular. We first landed at one of the stalls that appeared permanently set up on a busy street corner. Here the Sarafa Bazaar street merges with another local streets that sells household goods. Our gastronomic journey began !
The Kachori : easily put, a stuffed puri with peas, spiced lentils and potatoes.
Best way to eat a kachori is straight from the wok, piping hot, its golden brown crust burst open and a generous mixture of tamrind chutney (sauce) and green chilly chutney poured into the cavity. Served in a paper bowl the kachori melted away into our mouths and left behind an explosion of flavors. The heat from the hot oil and the spiced left us with watery eyes. The taste seemed to linger on our tongues along with a strong desire to repeat.
Tip: ‘Try’ not to overindulge at a single stall. It may leave you stuffed with so much more to explore
Mirchi Vada (Chilly Fritters) : another type of fritter with green chilly.
Shaped like an elongated donut the Mirchi Wada has nothing but a long green chilly at its center. Before your eyes widen, the chilly was not lethally spicy. Actually, it was very mild. This type of chilly is locally grown and is available abundantly in the markets.
Served with a tangy chutney with an option of a slightly sharper green chilly version, the delicious serving took us once step closer to heaven. The batter and the chilly brought out a unique flavor that in a way set a benchmark.
Joshi Dahi Bada: Wada made out of a mixed lentils fried and served in sweetened, curd.
As rustic the place may appear from outside the food happens to be up there in taste and presentation.
The owner who happens to offer a guest appearance is quite a celebrity. He has a unique, entertaining way of preparing the dish. Some of his moves involve tossing the bowl full of curd eight to ten feet high into the air. Entertaining for sure, but one wrong move has the potential to drench either the owner or the customer in layers of sweetened curds. Luckily, neither of that happened and we savored the sweet, tangy preparation with eyes closed , lost in heavenly indulgence.
Our journey continued into the lane where we met quite a few interesting street food vendors selling unique yet delicious preparations.
Hope you enjoyed part I of atleast 2 more releases on Sarafa. Stay tuned for some more action from the sweets section of the Sarafa Bazaar in my next blog.