**Disclaimer: The pictures used in this blog were clicked between 2015 and 2018 using a number of devices. Hope you don’t mind the image quality as they were clicked when I was just starting**
I grew up in a small town of Jharkhand. The 90s era did not have a lot of entertainment options for a middle class family in Bihar. The movie theatres would charge INR 7 for the balcony seat and INR 2.50 for the front row. Outings mostly meant masala dosa or choley bhature in the only restaurant of the town. But daily movie or restaurant outings was not possible.
So we did what every family in U.P. and Bihar used to do on a Sunday morning. After Rangoli would finish, my dad would go to a nearby hotel, purchase puri and jalebi with which a tangy sabzi of potato would come for free. I loved puri and jalebi so much that every month, I would save my pocket money to have a plate at the end of the month. Slowly I moved to Delhi and then Bangalore but I would always find a way to savor it, thanks to the crowd from UP and Bihar shifting to these cities for new job opportunities.
Puri, Jalebi, Sabzi is the luxury breakfast of UP and Bihar which brings families closer. In tourist towns like Varanasi and Lucknow this simple food has gained the highly recognized status. In commercial cities like Patna and Ranchi, every hotel and road side vendor prepares it in the morning. These shops have their own fixed customers waiting for the piping hot jalebis to come out and then served with puri and sabzi.
Varanasi, as a tourist town has increased the fame of this combination. The road leading to Dashawamedh Ghat is filled with big and small restaurants selling their own. Some versions of puri is plain while others have fillings of grounded lentils or sattu. A plate of this lovely, delicious meal would cost you somewhere between INR 30 to INR 80. It depends on the place you are having it. A majority of road side shops are located next to some drainage or a garbage disposal unit so don’t even think of sitting here if you are very hygiene conscious.
While Varanasi has created its legacy of making this meals mainstream, it will be Allahabad where the trend earned it mentions in the pages of history. Establishments like Netram are now more than 100 years old. Their flavourful platters which present multiple options of puri, jalebi with rabri or dahi are consumed by the masses on a daily basis. Generations have passed and those who moved out of the city still get emotional when the topic comes up.
Be whatever the reason, puri, jalebi and the humble aalu ki sabzi would always be the middle class UP, Bihari’s favourite meal. A luxury, that would only come home when a guest is visiting or when the family has gathered to celebrate Independence Day or Republic Day.
I still remember, a cousin of mine telling a story of how her father used to travel all the way to Jaunpur from Allahabad to bring special jalebis when he wanted to pamper her.
In my town, a jalebi wala gained such heights of popularity that people used to stand in lines and take numbers for their order.
At Patna station, when train stops for long, people actually walk out and get puri and jalebis packed. The shopkeeper knows this and keeps packets ready for a faster service.
I have learned that every state in India has its own middle class luxury breakfast. Did you have one? Share about it in the comments section.