During our stay in Kasar Devi, our host Sanjay Ji of Rudra Himalayan Homestay, accompanied us for a food walk in the town of Almora which is around 10 kms away. With old marketplaces, hospitals, residential buildings, Almora appeared like another bustling city in the mountains.
It was a sleepy morning when I had ended up at Nanda Devi market to start our food exploration. Our first stop was the 156 years old Lala Hoga Sah sweet shop that is deemed to be the birthplace of Almora famous bal mithai. Here we met the genteel owner Nikhil Sah ji who shared some anecdotes about their legendary sweet. To our great fortune, Nikhil ji invited us inside his workshop to witness the preparation of Singori and Bal mithai, which were about to be made.
He introduced us to his master sweet maker Jeevan Ji who executed the laborious task of making with an effortless ease. The soul of these two signature sweets of this shop is the superb quality homemade khoya that is sourced from nearby villages. It was fun watching the sweets take shape. Finally we tasted the end products. Served in a maalu leaf cone, the singori was luscious. In the case of the bal mithai the sugar balls made more sweeter. But it's core part, called chocolate, was quite delicious.
From there as we walked down the main market, we came across a vendor selling dilbahar chole. We decided to try a plate of this quick and simple boiled black chickpeas chaat. It was a refreshing and well seasoned snack.
Then we crossed a few more cobbled walkways and busy lanes and reached Kesav Jalebi. It was a great delight to behold the sight of freshly fried jalebis and biting into it was a surreal feeling. Crisp, warm, optimally sweet and syrupy, these jalebis were a real treat.
Next was the turn of some savoury snacks for which we reached Chaudhary Chaat at Johri Bazar. Here we picked up a tempting hot plate of aalu tikki. The chutneys accompanying the tikki chole were simply awesome.
After polishing off the chaat plate we headed to Savans Norjans restaurant for some Tibetan or Indo-Chinese fare. The cosy place is hit with the young crowd because they serve amazing food at an affordable price. We decided to try dry thukpa which is one of their best sellers and found it to be quite decent.
Finally we walked up to Barakoti Bhojanalaya to see what they were serving even though we were quite full with all the food. This lovely old and derelict place is for meals. Even though we had intended to try it, we settled for a cup of tea because both of us were feeling full.
Although there are some cafes and restaurants, the street food culture of Almora is not that prominent. Overall it was a great culinary experience trying the traditional stuff in this beautiful town.