I often wonder at the predetermined notions about certain travel destinations. For instance, Goa equals ‘beer on the beach’ or Rishikesh means white-water rafting or Haridwar means pilgrimage. And I beg to differ because the same destination can be seen with different perspectives. So when I decided to explore the food trails in Haridwar, most of my friends were surprised. But a man got to do what he got to do, especially when your job is to share culinary experiences with the world.
With no plan but Google Map to guide me, I headed out on a cold winter morning from Delhi. Why winter? Because, as much I detest winter, ironically, this the best season to enjoy all possible kinds of food, especially on a road trip, and not worry a dime about health. I booked one of the best AC cabs in Delhi with an experienced driver, who would know a few local places, in case the map failed me. It usually takes about 6 hours to Haridwar, provided you don’t face traffic. But this time, with my agenda of exploring the food trail on NH 334, it was sure to be a long journey.
On the highway
My first stop was at Bikanerwala in Modinagar. A confection chain of this region, this particular outlet was much swankier and had more options in snacks and sweets. This looked like a popular breakfast stop for travelers towards Uttarakhand. I checked off this place from my ‘must-visit’ list with a serving piping hot samosas and masala tea.
As we continued on the highway, another place came to my attention. The Jain Shikanji makes for a good stop to refresh yourself with the Indian version of lemonade. And winter travel calls for more hydration. Jain Shikanji is a time-worn outlet and serves their signature Shikanji Soda and the most interesting Aloo Chaat that can give Delhi chats a run for their money. My cabbie warned me of fake outlets by the same name and that this was the one and only. I even packed a bottle of Shikanji Squash for my travel.
It was way past noon before I could find an attractive place to stop for lunch. While there are plenty of eateries on this route, I wanted to try a place I had never tried before.
Near Muzaffarnagar, I landed at the Cheetal Grand, much recommended by the cabbie and Google results. Although a highway eatery, this is not your typical roadside diner, but a fancy outlet with a huge indoor area and tended gardens in the front. There was ample parking space too. Their huge menu comprises all possible Indian meals, munchies, sweets, and confections. They also have a fixed ‘thali’ for lunch for as less as Rs200.
The food trails of Haridwar
Being a pilgrim town, Haridwar is a far cry from meat, fish, or even eggs. But the local food is so flavorful, that I forgot I was on a vegetarian diet for two days straight.
Next morning, I walked down the narrow lanes off the river banks and remembered reading about a famous ‘puri’ vendor. Mohanji Puriwale is as historic as the town probably is. What once was a humble confectionary is now the most popular eatery of town. The hot and crispy puris served with spicy ‘aloo sabzi’ is the most sinful yet delectable breakfast ever!
Now no meal is complete without a sweet and no food trail ends without the famous sweets of the region. And so on my last evening in Haridwar, I headed to the Mathura Walon ki Prachin Dukan for a memorable evening graced by sinful yet soulful jalebis and rabdi- just the way Haridwar enjoys them!
- Best time to head for a culinary journey is between December and March.
- Always rent a top-rated taxi from Delhi to Haridwar that is good for long distances.
- In Haridwar, you can also visit Kashyap Kachoriwala for the best kachoris and Hoshiyarpuri for samosas.