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Sarafa Food Bazaar, Indore, India

Updated on January 23, 2017
A shop selling sweets at Sarafa Food bazaar
A shop selling sweets at Sarafa Food bazaar

Sarafa Food Bazaar, Indore, India : an Introduction

Street food is a highly attractive thing to the foodies worldwide. Besides being cheap, these food articles are freshly prepared, offer a plenty of choices and multiple varieties are available in a limited place. But the most attractive thing in such food items is their local flavor and authenticity. If these are combined with a long history giving the place a heritage status, then the whole thing becomes just irresistible. Sarafa Food Bazaar of Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India is such a street food market for you.

Sarafa Food Bazaar : Location

Location

This is located in the old part of the city of Indore near the historic Rajwada, an old palace belonging to the royal family. The area has rows of jewellery shops which close down in the evening, and in front of the closed jewellery shops crop up the temporary food stalls lining two sides of the narrow street.

Sarafa Food Bazaar : timing

This is a daily night bazaar without any weekly off-day, so customers can get there on all days of the week. The food bazaar opens at 8 pm and closes by about 1 am. During these hours, the area hustles and bustles with thousands of food lovers, both local and outside visitors alike.

A shop under the electric lamps
A shop under the electric lamps
Colorful lights decorate the food-stalls
Colorful lights decorate the food-stalls
A scene of the bazaar
A scene of the bazaar

Sarafa Bazaar : History

Sarafa Food Bazaar has a long history, not less than that of 100 years. It is said that it was started by the jewelers themselves with an intention to provide free protection to their own shops at night. When they closed their shops with valuable merchandise inside, the food sellers with their customers provided them with a natural protection from theft. The tradition goes on and on, and we got the food bazaar which has now become a heritage spot for Indore.

A jwellery shop, closed at night. Food-stalls are allowed to be placed in front of it at night.
A jwellery shop, closed at night. Food-stalls are allowed to be placed in front of it at night.

Food items in Sarafa Bazaar

Food items in Sarafa Bazaar

The list of the food items available in the Sarafa Bazaar is just mind blowing. The whole area is full of food stalls dishing out a large variety of food items. The range is awesome, varying from salty to sweet, tangy to bland. But the most important part is the authentic local flavor. Whether it is the piping hot ‘Jalebi’ or a cool ‘Koolfi’, the sweet ‘Gulap Jamun’ or the salty ‘Bhutte ki kis’, the heavy ‘Sabudana ki khichdi’ or the light ‘Paani Puri’, the tangy ‘Dhahi Bada’ and ‘Aloo Tikia’ or the refreshing ‘Coconut Crush’, everything carries the authentic local flavor, often of a long past. Now-a-days some popular new items like Momo & ice creams are added to attract the newer generation.

A shop selling sweets
A shop selling sweets
A fruit stall
A fruit stall
Selling Garadu, a type of Purple Yam
Selling Garadu, a type of Purple Yam
A shop selling sweets made from 'Teel' (Sesame seeds).
A shop selling sweets made from 'Teel' (Sesame seeds).

The food sellers of Sarafa Bazaar

Apart from the varieties of food they supply, the food sellers themselves are in no way lagging behind in colours. Many of them are carrying out the business through generations, and the styles they show in their behavior and personality are reflective of their heritage. Many of them have unique style of presenting their merchandise to attract customers. One of such colourful characters is seen at the ‘Joshi Dahi Badaa’ shop, where the main person preparing the dish is nothing short of a conjurer. The manner in which he throws the small bowl with the solid ‘Badaa’ and semi-liquid ‘Dahi’ (curd) high up his head and catches the same before it falls to the ground without spilling a drop of the mixture is unbelievable.

He fries Garadu (Purple Yam) in front of his customers
He fries Garadu (Purple Yam) in front of his customers
A young person selling Momo, a Tibetan food
A young person selling Momo, a Tibetan food
The famous 'Sabudana Khichdi'being sold at Shawariyaan Seth stall by the Verma-s
The famous 'Sabudana Khichdi'being sold at Shawariyaan Seth stall by the Verma-s
The person performing a conjurer's trick while preparing 'Dahi Badaa'-s at Joshi Dahi Badaa Stall
The person performing a conjurer's trick while preparing 'Dahi Badaa'-s at Joshi Dahi Badaa Stall

The Customers

The customers are also of every hue. Older men in traditional dresses mingle with youths in jazzy Western outfits. Ladies in jeans compete with those with Hijaab and Burqua in gobbling up tangy ‘Paani Puri’-s. Local residents with their reserved and knowing manners mingle with the hesitant and unsure outsiders. Pure food lovers walk from shop to shop along with with the camera-holding onlookers. People from all corners of India can be seen here. The scene is really colourful.

Some of the popular food items sold at Sarafa Bazaar

One cannot say what is better than a host of others, but some of the most popular food items sold here are listed below.

SABUDANA KI KHICHDI

‘Sabudana’ (Tapioca Sago) is prepared from the roots of Tapioca plant or Cassava (Manihot Esculenta). Sabudana Khichdi is prepared from Tapioca pearls, peanuts, grated coconut, potatoes & green chilies. The most famous of the sellers is Om Prakash Vyas of ‘Saawariyan Seth’.

COCONUT CRUSH

It is a soothing drink prepared by mixing the water & the soft pulp of a green coconut.

BHUTTE KI KEES

It is prepared from boiled and mashed corn mixed with coconut & spices, then topped up with coriander leaves & lemon juice. The final consistency is smooth buttery and it melts in the mouth.

GARADU FRY

Garadu is a type of purple yam. It is peeled, cut into small rectangular pieces, deep fried in front of the customer and served hot topped up with spices, chilies and lemon juice.

MALPUA

It is a very popular sweet dish consisting of a type of thin flat pancake made of flour, khoya (solidified milk) & semolina, deep fried & then dipped in sugary syrup.

KHOPRA PATTIES

These are a sort of potato balls stuffed with grated coconut, fried & served hot with tangy tamarind chutney.

JALEBA

It is a large sized cousin of the standard Indian sweet dish Jalebi which is popular all over India.

ICE CREAM

Large varieties of ice creams are available here. A popular variety is ice cream prepared with mango pulp. Superior varieties of mango ice creams are usually prepared with the costly Hapos (Alphanso) mango.

KOOLFIE

Koolfie is a sort of ice cream available throughout India. But the range of the varieties available here is mind blowing. Apart from exotic varieties like the Shahi Koolfie, Sitafal Kulfie (Kulfie made from Custard Apple), Chocolate Koolfie etc. even a ‘Sugarless’ Koolfie is also available for the Diabetics.

SRIKHAND

It is an Indian Sweet dish made of strained yogurt. It is highly popular in Western India, particularly in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

PAANI PURI

Known as Phuchkaa in Eastern India and Golgappa in the north, this is an extremely popular food item especially among young girls all over India. Here in Sarafa Bazaar, at least 10 varieties of Pani Puri are available to cater to the different tastes of the customers.

INDORI SHIKANJI

Shikanji is a refreshing drink made from lemon and water. But the Shikanji that is available in Indore (called Indori Shikanji) is different. Here it is prepared from milk & dry fruits and has a slight tanginess from Muttha (Buttermilk).

POHA JILABI

Unique to Indore, this is a mixture of POHA (made from flattened rice or Chura/Chira) & JILEBI (a very popular sweet item).

PETHA PAAN

Paan or Betel leaf combined with Supari (areca nut) and some other ingredients including lime and tobacco is a highly popular food item in India, chewed for its stimulant effect. There are many varieties of Paan in different parts of India. The Petha Paan which is available in Sarafa Bazaar is, however, quite different from the common types. Here inside the Betel leaf ingredients like areca nut, cashew nut, almond and spices are mixed and on the outside a thin layer of a sweet item called Petha is added. The whole thing is quite mouth-filling.

A shop selling "Coconut Crush"
A shop selling "Coconut Crush"
The Food item list of a shop selling Ice creams & 'Koolfie'
The Food item list of a shop selling Ice creams & 'Koolfie'

Conclusion

The Sarafa Food Bazaar is a unique thing to see. Both the foodie-types and the non-foodies will be delighted to see this excellent market.

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