Numerous posts are available online that talk about Ramzan in India, and food that is on offer in various cities across India during Ramzan. As a foodie, I have always wondered which is the best city to be in for a Iftar food walk, and I intend to settle this debate for once and for all – by comparing 4 cities in India that have the best Ramzan food on offer. Are you ready for a comparative analysis of the best of the best? Here goes:
The first and arguably the strongest contender on the list is the capital city of Delhi. In the capital, we talk about only the area surrounding the largest mosque outside of Israel in Asia, our very own Jama Masjid. During Ramzan, the food on offer around Jama Masjid (read Matia Mahal) is to die for. The area is lit on usual days, come the festivities, there is nothing as colorful and full of natural aromas as Old Delhi.
The nature of Ramzan Food: Matia Mahal has various street restaurants where you get special Iftaar food to break your fast. Ranging from dates imported from the middle east, to Mohabbat ka Sharbat (milk watermelon Rooh afza), Anjeer Shake, Paneer Jalebi, Keema and Khoya Samosa to the usual spread of Kebabs, tikkas, nihari, shirmal and biryani – the options will make your mouth salivate.
Value for Money: When it comes to Value for money, Old Delhi is the best of the lot. The Ramzan food available in the area will set you back by only INR 300-400 per person for moderate level foodies with non vegetarian food. For extreme foodies, this amount could go upto INR 600-700 per person, but not more.
Crowd and Feel: The crowd around Jama Masjid makes the atmosphere even better. From families that have come out to break their roza during Ramzan, to group of friends, you will find all sorts of people eating Matia Mahal in and out.
SeekSherpa Hidden Haunt: Anjeer Shake at Cool Point is one of the most underrated yet unmissable delicacies.
The place to be in Mumbai during Ramzan is Mohammed Ali Road near Minara Masjid, and Bohari Mohalla. Both of these areas primarily serve street food, and these are probably the only areas where you will find quality Ramzan food, as well North Indian delicacies throughout the year. The area around Minara Masjid at Mohd. Ali Road is the best place to start with.
The nature of Ramzan Food: Special Ramzan Food in the area has some Parsi influence, as well as some unique dishes that you might not find throughout the city. From quirky dishes like a tongue soup or bhejha fry to sweet idli-like Sandan, egg malpua, kebabs, tandoori quail, aflatoon, phirni, masala milk, mawa jalebi and hand churned ice-cream, the spread here is vast and in a way even better than Delhi. The food taste however varies and some might prefer Ramzan food in Delhi due to its more authentic nature.
Value for Money: Compared to Delhi, the food is a tad bit costlier. To enjoy the full spread in Ramzan, one must be ready to shell out about INR 600-700 per person, and for extreme foodies, the amount may go upto INR 1000 per person.
Crowd and Feel: The crowd around the area gathers right after sunset and Iftar. Although Minara Masjid is also an important place, the shear numbers at Jama Masjid outweigh it by a mile (a blessing in disguise?). Like the food and the city, the crowd is also cosmopolitan and there’s variety in terms of the people as well.
SeekSherpa Hidden Haunt: One might consider Mohd. Ali Road to be the end of the tunnel. However, take out some time and move onto Bohari Mohalla, to find Bara Handi – Meat cooked in 12 different pots burried underground, with different styles of gravies and cuts such as nihari, paya, sookha, nalli and pichota combined to give a gravy based dish that makes you want to bite your fingers.
Hyderabad is arguably the home of Biryani. Many historians have claimed Hyderabad to be the city that gave birth to Biryani when the Nizam ordered his chefs to make it for the common people. Hence, Biryani has been a crowd favorite since ages, and you can expect some of the best biryanis in India to be available in the streets of Hyderabad. Since the area around Charminar is the centre of all street food in the city, Ramzan specific food is also available in the area, with some varieties of Ramzan food that are unique to only Hyderabad.
The nature of Ramzan Food: The food that is available during Ramzan in Hyderbad is plentiful. To start off, many prefer to take a sip of the Irani chai with some Osmania biscuits, or Kahwa(a more traditional drink). For starters and main course, you can get kebabs, tikkas, haleem, paya, nihari, bheja fry, keema samosa, biryani and quirky food like zaban, bheja, gurda, kaleji based gravies. For dessert, you can either try hand churned ice-cream with only natural flavors, or traditional desserts like Qubani ka meetha(a version of apricot pudding), Double ka meetha (fried bread soaked in milk and rabri ), sevaiyon ka meetha (vermicelli dessert), kheer and Gil-e-firdaus(rice and milk based dish infused with Lauki) apart from the usual shakes to wash down the spicy biryani and kebabs!
Value for Money: The food options in Hyderabad vary in terms of price point. For a normal foodie, INR 500-600 per person would suffice. For a hardcore ‘I-want-to-taste-everything’ kind of a person, the amount could go upto INR 800-1000.
Crowd and Feel: The people around the area are very friendly, and Hyderabad is home to a fairly cosmopolitan population as well. People who run restaurants around the area are nice to travelers, and so are the people who have come out to eat. Whilst a lot of people come in order to visit the Charminar or Chowmahalla Palace, many come just to eat their hard out, or shop in the Laad Bazaar, which stays open till midnight!
SeekSherpa Hidden Haunt: Apart from authentic Haleem which is only available in Hyderabad, Pathar-ka-ghosht is something that is a novelty in Hyderabad. Rather than cooking the kebabs on a skewer over a flame and tandoor, these kebabs are cooked on a large rock/pathar, and acquire a unique aroma and taste. You can get this at a lot of restaurants, but some of the best tasted kebabs are available at Shadab Restaurant and Bade Miyaan Kebabs.
Lucknow, or the city of Nawabs has always been a famous centre point when it comes to food in India. Much like Delhi, you will find an old world charm in the Chowk area in Lucknow, along with traces of Mughal architecture around the city. In retrospect, Awadh has been a stronghold known for various food items, and another contender for the city where biryani originated from. Come Ramzan, Lucknow is lit up, and has amazing street food on offer.
The nature of Ramzan Food: During Ramzan and throughout the year, some of the favorites that are unmissable are the Kebabs at Tunday Kebabi(a food joint famous throughout India among foodies, also has a cult following as people swear that it has the best Galouti kebabs in India), Awadhi Biryani, kebabs, Qorma and Zafrani Pulav. Apart from this, you can get Khajur Ghosht, Rogan josh, Shammi, Boti, Kakori and Fish kebabs. For dessert, you can always fall back on matka kulfi served from earthern pots topped with vermicelli, phirni, jalebis or Ramzan food like shaak or bouchnika.
Value for Money: Like other places mentioned above, Lucknow is also not that hefty on the pocket. A normal foodie can expect the food to cost around INR 400-500 per person, and hardcore foodies can enjoy the dishes by shelling out around INR 700-800 per person.
Crowd and Feel: The tehzeeb people have in Lucknow means you can count on everyone being friendly! The area is frequented by group of friends, families and people from all around the city – because of the famous food in the area. During Ramzan, the food here is unmissable, and hence you can expect some crowd in the area!
SeekSherpa Hidden Haunt: The Makhan Malai at Akbar gate is the truest version of icing on the cake. Similar to Daulat ki chaat in Delhi, Makhan Malai is something every Lucknow resident will swear by. Some may even claim it to beat the flavor of Daulat ki Chaat, since Makhan Malai has a more intense flavor.
Verdict: While one may argue that the city they live in has the best food on offer, two cities clearly stand out of the 4 above in terms of culture, heritage, secret recipes, the quality of food available and the variety. Whilst Hyderabad inches close to top in terms of taste, variety and cultural heritage, Delhi is no less in those fields. While Mumbai and Lucknow serve some of the most delectable cuisine around their states, they fall a little short in front of Delhi and Hyderabad. What would you prefer, the Irani chai of Hyderbad or the Butter Tea of Chawri Bazaar? The North Indian Biryani or Hyderabadi Biryani? You decide.
Surprise Hidden Haunt: If whatever you have read salivates you, we are providing a passage to enjoying everything on the menu! SeekSherpa is conducting food walks in Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Scroll below to find the links and book your tickets now for a Ramzan Food walk, specially during this month:
Doesn’t this list make you salivate? Head out for a Ramzan Food Walk TODAY!