Today's episode is all about the road trip food experience between Nagrota Bagwan and Palampur in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. It covers some of the popular and some impromptu eateries located between this stretch. Joining us on this tour is our gracious host Anika Sharma who hails from Palampur.
The first three eateries that we explored were located at the busy junction of Nagrota Bhagwan. All of these were located near the old bus stand and hence are frequented mostly by travelers and shoppers.
The first destination was Vinod Chaat Bhandar that has been serving yummy and pocket friendly samosa tikki, channa bhatura and dahi bhalle to the masses since 1983. The sight of the puffy bhature made us order the same. It came along with spicy chickpea curry and condiments. The taste was decent and homely.
The second destination was the Sanjay Dham Shop that was located near Vinod Chaat Bhandar. It was the big vessels placed on the front counter that attracted our attention to this 35 year old place that serves Kangri dham. The smell of the rice and curries made us excited. The platter included rice, rajma with sepu badi, chana dal, dahi kadhi and kadhi khatta. This soulful meal carried the rustic flavours from this part of the state.
The third stop was Mehra Chaat Bhandar adjacent to the Dham shop. They had sweets, fried snacks and chaat, keeping the traveling mass in mind. On Anika's recommendation we tried their seviyan boondi. This is one of the favourite tea time accompaniments of people over there. The boondi were slightly bigger in size compared to its North Indian counterparts. Same for the seviyan as well.
The fourth stop of this road trip was Kake Da Dhaba Green Soda Point. It's a famous dhaba on this stretch where you get veg dham and mutton-rice. But they are renowned for their green soda which is a fresh mint, spices and soda water based green coloured refreshing sweet drink. Travelers and locals love it because of its perfectly zesty taste and energizing feel and so did we.
The fifth stop was KPU Food shop which is a retail point for locally prepared pickles, jams, preserves and squashes. These are made of fruits and veggies native to this region. The owner took us through some of their hot selling fares and they looked quite tempting.
The sixth destination was Lakhan watermelon stall where we made a random pit stop because the melons looked really tempting. After polishing of a ripe and sweet watermelon we set out for Arla. But we once again stopped at a salt stall run by Rajesh ji to have a chit chat about his intriguing stuff which included huge chunks of different kinds of salt and spice mixes.
The sixth stop was Raju Chaat Bhandar in Arla. This nondescript golgappa stall has been around for nearly 23 years. It is a favourite with both the locals and travelers. Anika mentioned that it was an indispensable stop for her family whenever they cross this stretch. The golgappa weren't extraordinary but fun to try.
The last stop of this road trip was Verma Dhaba in Maranda. We have heard a lot about their mutton curry and hence ordered some with plain rice. The rich and dark coloured mutton curry quite tender and spicy and we quite liked it. It was a perfect end to this road trip food experience.