Situated in the heart of Bihar's Mithilanchal region, Darbhanga is one of the oldest and heritage-rich cities of this north Indian state. Due to the presence of numerous architectural marvels and the glorious heritage of arts and music, it is often referred to as the cultural capital of Bihar. This historical city with a splendid past, which was at the zenith during the rule of Raj Darbhanga, is also renowned for fishes, fox nut cultivation, paan, and mangoes. We were there for a day to explore the popular foods. So let's see what all things we ate during this day-long food tour.
We started the food tour from Manoj tea stall opposite Bandhan bank. The reticent Manoj Ji had placed a big pot of ghugni on a small table outside the stall. This ghugni was being served with littis or bhunja. We went for the bhunja ghugni combo. It was crisp, spicy, tangy, and flavourful. This was followed by an invigorating cup of special tea from the same place, which had a little coffee in it.
Then we took the main road and reached Mirzapur to eat at Sardaar Pakodewala. Situated near Gurunanak Singh Sabha Gurdwara, this popular snack point actually doesn't have a proper name. Here we met the smiling Gurmeet Ji who told us about their bestseller fare i.e the Pyaji Pakoda. It was a unique fritter made with one large onion that was first cut open like a blooming lotus flower, then sprinkled with spices and double fried. They served it with chole and chutney. The sweetness and sharpness of the onion came through well and the crisp and savory besan coating was fun too.
After the pakoda and a brief chit-chat with the genial Gurmeet Ji, we reached this amusing place outside whom it was written Hum Lassi Yahin Peete hain. The huge sofas placed inside made it appear like a furniture shop but the live lassi counter outside affirmed its actual identity. Those sofas were part of the fancy seating arrangements inside the shop. So we grabbed a glass of hand-churned lassi and went inside. It was rich, creamy, and luscious. The topping of grainy khoya added to it's opulence.
Then we strolled down the adjacent vegetable market and kela mandi to reach Suraj Meat House. This humble-looking eatery is one of the city's most popular non-veg destinations. Darbhanga being a land of fishes, the menu here is dominated by fish dishes. More than the affordable and delicious menu, it was Suraj Ji's warm and hospitable persona that is the crowd puller. Here we polished off some parboiled rice with rewa fry, sighi curry, jhinga masala, and mutton curry. The food was great.
As we headed further in search of more flavours, we spotted an old man selling Balushahi. This traditional sweet native to Saiyadpur in Sitamarhi Bihar was a syrup rich, cooked chena ball. Ram Kishore Ji, the vendor procures it from the above-mentioned place and sells it over here at Barabazar.
We then took a paan break and moved on to try small samosas from Jagdish Samosewale near Poonam Cinema Hall. But as the place was closed, we had it from Ravi kumar Samose wala. The bite-sized samosa served with kadhi and onions made for a hearty snack.
From there we reached station road to check out an old snack shop named Sri Chakradhari Bhojanalaya, whose dalmoth, sev and nimki were a favourite at Anubhav' maternal grandparents' house. But unfortunately we realized that its glory has drastically faded away and now it is barely surviving with limited fares.
With a sense of longing we took an auto ride to our last destination Sweet Home sweet shop at Laheriasarai. At this Bengali shop we tried orange, raskadam and chhena jalebi. We also visited their sweet-making facility.
This was a gratifying tour where not only did we stuff ourselves with tasty food but also garnered some lovely inspiration from the amiable vendors.