India’s dhabas, the roadside restaurants where truck drivers and families can get cheap yet tasty homemade food fast, are a particular downfall for my waistline when traveling. Anybody that has traveled with me knows I like to eat. As cigarettes and alcohol are the vice of many, food is my weak point.
Come one come all. Picking the right dhaba is a matter of personal preference. Vast stretches of super highways are jammed with choices for road weary hungry travelers. While I prefer quiet, smaller dhabas with limited seating, John Q Public are drawn like moths to a flame to the larger commercial variety; jammed parking lots, attached gift shops, cavernous toilets and streams of people from surrounding states clutching their stomachs as they retire from the the dining halls.
Dhaba menus read like a greatest hits album by my favorite artist. Traditional Indian food dishes with “rib sticking” quality is akin to sitting around grandma’s kitchen table during the holidays. Dhabas are also an exceptionally good way to taste regional specific Indian foods made by local cooks. No fake Hyderabadi biryani here. Dhabas only serve what the locals eat.
One exception to this rule are Punjabi dhabas. It was the truck drivers hailing from the far northwestern Indian state of Punjab who brought the need for neat and clean, affordable highway restaurants to the masses. Hauling produce and much needed pieces of India’s burgeoning infrastructure, Punjabi drivers criss-crossed India with lead feet and hearty appetites.
Folks who smelled opportunity scrambled to open Punjabi dhabas along the more heavily traveled roads. Rajasthani, Gujarati and Marathi cooks installed “Pure Punjabi” placards above modest shacks hoping to grab their fortune one order at a time. But word quickly spread among the tight knit business saavy Punjabi community. The reputation of Punjabi dhabas is second to none. Fakes were flushed out, replaced by relocated Punjab entrepreneurs who opened truly authentic Punjabi dhabas.
Here are just a few of the countless dhabas of India that have generously fed me through the years.
Related Posts You Might Like:
Recent posts in Photo