Indore’s love affair with food is long and legendary. The flavors of Indore’s diverse kitchens mingle madly at the legendary Sarafa Bazaar, which comes to life at 8 pm, when the jewellery market behind the Rajwada Palace closes down.
Makers of traditional Indian savories and sweets, and now the Western snacks also, line up their stalls outside each jewellery shop – their places remain fixed. The association of this street food market allows only certified makers of very high quality offerings, and only vegetarian!
Yet, even in a city obsessed with eating, Sarafa Bazaar is unique. One of the city’s main gold and silver jewellery markets, it thrums with the spirit of commerce by day. But after 10p.m., when the last of the jewellery stores shut shop, the streets acquire an almost electric charge. In narrow gullies with wiggle room only for pedestrians, whole families carefully negotiate their way past large kadhais bubbling with hot oil.
The cheerful and chaotic festivity on the streets of Sarafa is mesmerizing. In Sarafa, it struck me that the business of eating was much more than a means of making money. Even at the smallest stalls, the owners urged me to eat first and pay later. They were always happy to stop and chat for a few minutes- a clever marketing ploy, I thought.
It was in Sarafa that I got my first real taste of the city. As one among the hundreds who hit the streets embracing food as a joyful, communal experience, I felt secure and sure footed in a way that I hadn’t expected to. Explore Indore’s strikingly distinct cuisine with this top things to try tick-off list, which guarantees a gastronomic adventure at the Sarafa Bazaar.
Top 5 Things To Try
Bhutte ka kees: Indore is famous for this seasonal speciality made of corn, grated and cooked with milk. coconut and spices until it acquires a moist texture .The melt-in-your mouth dish is topped with fresh coriander, grated coconut and lemon juice.
It is large and crisp but soft within, and steeped in sugar syrup.
The thin pancakes made of flour, khoya (milk solids) and semolina, are deep-fried and dunked in sugar syrup, and often served with rabdi to create this truly decadent dish.
Plump vadas soaked in kaanji, a digestive drink made of fermented mustard with a big smack of hing. This is a sour-savoury take on dahi vada.
These famous patties, potato balls with a core of stuffed coconut, are fried right in front of customers and served with tangy tamarind chutney.
Other gastronomic specialties are aaloo tikki, chhole-tikiya, Joshi dahi vada, garaadu, samosa, kachori, paani – puri, dahi papdi, dahi chaat, sabudana ki khichdi (sago) , paav – bhaaji, paraanthaa (paratha), idli, dosa, sandwich, pizza, fried rice, noodles, vegetable munchurian, rabdi, gulab jamun, shikanji (with rabdi & curd), kulfi, falooda, ice cream, fruit salad, gajak, etc., only to name a few .
To experience Sarafa at its busiest, visit around 11p.m. and slowly make the rounds of the various stalls until they wind down, around 2a.m.
The snacks on offer vary according to the season. Bottled water and mineral water, in addition to aerated drinks (soft drinks) and coconut water, are available in plenty here.
Parking is not available in the market, though there are spaces before entering the market from all four sides.
A must-visit place if you are a foodie and want to try some of Indore’s best & mouth watering traditional snacks & sweets.