Formerly a summer resort of the British Raj, the city of Darjeeling is a confluence of cultures. It is a gorgeous hill station with breathtaking natural beauty, magnificent colonial architecture and joyful way of life. This episode brings you an immersive food tour from this place that we had undertaken with our hosts Nikhil and Ujjawal. Nikhil is a licensed tour leader and adventure enthusiast while Ujjawal is a painter, musician and entrepreneur.
The first stop of the tour was Kunga restaurant. It is a favourite of those who prefer Tibetan and Nepali cuisines. The place was jam packed when we reached there and that is a testimony of its huge popularity. Here we polished off a comforting bowl of chicken thenthuk and a plate of steamed chicken momo.
Next we went to Bhola Aalu dum to try one of the most quintessential Darjeeling street food that is aalu dum. Bhola is believed to be the pioneer of this bright orangish red potato curry that is served with a wide range of munchies. We opted for the finger chips and aalu dum combo. For Nikhil is not just any food but an emotion because he has grown up loving it and has so many memories attached to it. We too loved this aalu mimi which had fried noodles in it as well.
The third stop was Walis Bakery from where we picked up some wheel pop and puffs to be enjoyed with tea. It is an old bakery cum confectionery frequented by the locals for their snacks stocks.
The fourth stop was Narayan Das, a renowned sweet shop where we had a refreshing cup of Darjeeling tea along with the puffs. Over this energizing cup, we got to know a slice of Darjeeling's history from Nikhil, who had all the anecdotes on his fingertips.
After this we went to Kapil Chaat whose aalu chaat is a hot favourite with the locals. It is a potpourri of ketchup based aalu dum, chips, sev, peanuts, chutney, yogurt etc. The result was a zesty, sweet and sour dish that brings smiles on people's faces.
Next we had a paan and then reached Ismail restaurant to savour some Mughali dishes. The homestyle chicken keema that we tried was mild on spices and delicious.
After this Nikhil exited the tour and we continued it with Ujjawal. First he took us to Beni's cafe which is an old favourite. The place still radiates an old world vibe. Here we just had some tea and a kala jamun each because we had few more places to visit.
Next we reached Santosh Aalu dum stall to enjoy a plate of aalu bhunja. It was once associated with Beni's cafe. The dish was somewhat similar to the chaat we had at Kapil minus the ketchup and chutney things. We really liked its warm, spicy and crunchy taste. Santosh ji was very genial and patient.
From there we went to Joey's Pub to unwind over some beer. We really enjoyed the less noisy and laid back ambience of this place.
Finally we ended the tour with some dal roti based dinner at Hotel Lunnar because it being late in the night, there weren't much options available. Overall we had a great time that day.