I'm back from a micro-mini holiday which went past soooper-fast...
I went to visit my parents in Aurangabad along with A (how our train journey to Aurangabad was an adventure in itself is a topic to be dealt with in a separate post soon). My sisters joined us and we had a splendid weekend (how I wished it would last forever.) Needless to say we ate loads and loads of all time favorite foods like puran-poli, narali bhaat, and gulab jamuns and re-discovered the absolute bliss of tucking into a meal cooked with oodles and oodles of love!
Aurangabad is a growing town (almost a city) which boasts of most of the facilities of a big city and still retains the old world charm of a sleepy town. And since some of my happiest years were spent here everything associated with this historic place seems extra special to me.
There are several monuments in and around Aurangabad which speak of its rich heritage. The world famous Ellora and Ajanta caves are very close to Aurangabad. Bibi ka Maqbara, built by the Moghul emperor Aurangzeb is called the Taj Mahal of the South. There's the Deogiri fort built by the Yadav dynasty which is better known as Daulatabad fort. Aurangzeb was so impressed by its "inconquerability" (actually I meant something which can’t be conquered) that he made it the capital of his empire.
On Sunday we planned to pack our lunch and have it in some scenic spot. We drove for around 5 minutes further from Daulatabad fort and found the perfect location. Pleasant blue skies and a spellbinding view of a lake in the backdrop made a delicious meal even more enjoyable. We bought fresh guavas to go with our lunch of dhapates (yummy!!) and bhendi fry.
There are some extremely tasty food items on my "Must Eat" list while in Aurangabad and I consider it an offence to miss any of them. The first slot is reserved for my beloved "Bhalla". This is a sort of potato patty which is drowned in tangy and sweet and spicy Kabuli channa gravy garnished with anar dana, shredded ginger, cottage cheese and cilantro. A mouthful of bhalla and I almost attain nirvana-like state. ;-) I'm eternally grateful to my friend S who introduced me to this place which goes by the very cool name of "Mathuravaasi Bhujiyawala". Very different tasting, boat shaped pani puris are also sold here but they are way too big to eat at one go.
A place called Madhur Milan sells the most heavenly pani puris I've ever tasted (but not close to what my mom makes!).I've seen some die hard fans popping down about 30-35 puris JLT!
Bang opposite Madhur Milan is a humble joint which is very popular for its vada pau. The savory in itself is very simple and basic in flavor. A deep fried aloo vada wrapped in a fresh pau (I like to believe that it is fresh) coated with green chutney and garlic chutney accompanied with one or two fried green chilies is filling and very reasonably priced.
There are several decent restaurants and bakeries in the city where the crowd of hungry eaters literally spills onto the streets in the evenings. But my pilgrimage to Aurangabad is incomplete without a trip to my engineering college-the place where I spent the 4 most joyous years of my life and where I made some great friends. This college has played a big role in shaping my life and the college canteen was our most favorite hangout! Here we discussed endlessly, meaninglessly, sleepily, passionately, we made new friends and strengthened old ties over countless plates of sambar-vadas, dahi vadas, vada pau, bottles of lassi, cups of coffee, tea. The price tag of Rs 4/Rs 5 per item was so easy on our tiny wallets/purses. :-)
There are many more places which deserve to be mentioned, but to resist my temptation of catching the next train to Aurangabad I must stop here.
Even a mental trip to all these places makes me smile and leaves me fully refreshed. I'm sure it worked the same wonders on you all!!