The OH and I have been craving for a vacation for oh so long, but nothing seemed to be budging on the travel front. Due to some reason or the other, we weren’t able to plan even a short holiday. Recently, this changed, though, when we decided that enough was enough and that we would head on at least a weekend break, come what may. After much thinking over, we decided to visit Shirdi over the last weekend, with a break in the journey at Pune. We wanted to take Bubboo to the Shirdi Sai Baba temple, and thought we would make the most of the one day we had in Pune. We went ahead and did just that and, I am happy to say, we had a nice trip, in spite of the few hiccups that we had. Finally, a little part of the wanderlusting soul of mine is happy!
Now, we have been to Pune once in the past, when we took a break on our way to Lonavala and Matheran. This time too, Pune was a stopover for us, but we were determined to head to some of our favourite spots in the city and indulge in some culinary delights. We had a bit of guidance from a couple of our relatives who have lived in Pune before, and we also had some insights from some lovely foodie blogs we discovered about Pune. We also had our own Pune memories to fall back on. This time around, our one day stopover in Pune became a sort of culinary trail – we had a taste of some of Pune’s (Maharashtra’s, rather) specialty foods from some of the best eateries that the city has to offer. There is so much to do (eat, actually) in Pune that it is not possible to do all in a single day. This city deserves a trip of its own – the next time around, it is a trip to Pune and Pune alone that we will plan, and it will not be just a stopover.
Let me tell you all about the gorgeous food we hogged in Pune (and all the lovely food we admired but didn’t eat, too!) now, OK?
Breakfast at Tatyo’s, Deccan Gymkhana
This little eatery is located right next to Cafe Goodluck, one of Pune’s oldest Irani cafes (sadly, we didn’t know that then, and didn’t visit it!). Tatyo’s sells a variety of on-the-go foods, including the famous Marathi Kanda Poha, Sabudana Wada, Dhokla, Satyanarayan Sheera, Upma with Maharashtrian-Style Podi, Samosa, Aloo Kachori, and a variety of chaats.
We were super confused about what to order and what not to, but finally decided to go for a plate each of Kanda Poha, Dhokla, and Satyanarayan Sheera. Everything was just beautiful, freshly and perfectly cooked and spiced, and priced very, very reasonably. I loved the peanut-green chilly chutney and podi that the Kanda Poha was served with! The Dhokla was spongy and just the right mix of tangy and sweet.
Breakfast – 2 at Wadeshwar, FC Road
Our next stop was at Wadeshwar on FC Road to get some idlis for Bubboo. We ended up ordering a plate of Kothimbir Wadi for ourselves, just because we hadn’t sampled this particular Maharashtrian delicacy before. For the uninitiated, Kothimbir Wadi is nothing but coriander fritters in a chickpea (besan) batter, usually steamed first and deep-fried later.
Wadeshwar has a lovely selection of food and drink that we would love to try out (Lemon Lassi included – I haven’t found that anywhere else!), but we were already stuffed to the gills with the food from Tatyo’s, so weren’t up to anything more than Kothimbir Wadi and a cup of tea each.
I loved the presentation of the Wadi but, honestly, it wasn’t something we loved. The tea wasn’t up to the mark either. The OH echoed my thoughts. That said, Wadeshwar is one of Pune’s most famous joints, known mostly for its South Indian food. Maybe, the next time around, we will choose a different genre of food here.
Neera at a roadside stall
This time of the year, when winter is just about to end and summer is all set to begin, you find foods from both seasons at the places you visit. Pune was no exception. We came across hundreds of roadside stalls across the city, selling Neera, also called Sweet Toddy or Palm Nectar. Considered a winter specialty, Neera is a delightful drink that is loaded with nutrition.
I have beautiful memories of going to Neera stalls with Appa in Ahmedabad, early in the morning, before the mercury levels soared and the drink would start fermenting. I couldn’t resist grabbing a glass of Neera from one of the roadside stalls in Pune, on the go while visiting some tourist spots, and it was just as refreshing, just as delightful as I remembered.
Masala Tak by the roadside
Summer is fast taking over India, and Pune is gearing up to meet it head-on. At least, that is the impression the streets of Pune conveyed to us. We came across stall after stall selling masala tak (buttermilk) and summer street delights like raw mangoes.
We grabbed a few glasses of masala tak on the move, from different stalls. Everywhere, it was priced between Rs. 10 and Rs. 15, and was fresh and cool and lovely. I would highly recommend this to you, if you visit Pune this time of year.
Maharashtrian Thali at Hotel Shreyas, Apte Road
Hotel Shreyas is one of Pune’s best eateries, serving only Maharashtrian Thali for lunch and dinner. We headed to the hotel for both lunch and dinner, and were served a gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous thali that included a whole lot of delicious Maharashtrian Brahmin food. I absolutely loved the food here – the aamti and kadhi specially. Priced at closed to Rs. 300 per head, the thali here is a lovely experience, one that I would absolutely recommend.
Each thali here comes with unlimited servings and one sweet dish of your choice. The OH opted for the modak, which was brilliant, and I went for the basundi, which was equally delectable. Make sure you have plenty of space in your tummy before you visit, though – the thali is quite heavy.
I badly wanted to try out the Aam Ras, Amba Poli (mango pooran poli) and the Amrakhand (mango shrikhand) here, but my stomach didn’t permit me to. 😦 Well, all the more reason to visit Pune again, right?
Gawping at the chocolate bouquets at Brugge, Aundh
Brugge is a beautiful chocolate shop with a few outlets in Pune, that you absolutely should not miss out on. The specialty here are the chocolate bouquets, which are perfect for gifting. They have chocolate bouquets of all shapes and sizes, and to suit most occasions. The prices are on the higher side, though. We went into Brugge in Aundh just to gawp at the prettiness of it, as we did on our last Pune visit too, at the Dhole Patil Road outlet. 🙂
Actually, we didn’t go into Brugge just to gawp at the chocolate bouquets – we went there to rediscover their Chocolate Shots, which we had had on our last visit and fallen in love with. The Chocolate Shots are little glasses of warm, gooey, liquid chocolate that are absolutely divine and will have your heart racing in the good sort of way. Sadly, we were told that the Aundh outlet doesn’t sell them, but that we could find them at their Dhole Patil Road branch. We didn’t have the time to head to Dhole Patil Road, but if you are there, I would urge you to stop by at Brugge for the shots, and gawp your heart’s content at the chocolate bouquets there, in the meanwhile.
Pani poori with ragda at Ganesh Bhel, Aundh
Bangalore has street-side carts selling paani poori with a ragda-like dry pea gravy, but the ragda served with pani poori in Pune is something totally different. The ragda in Pune is bland, just a warm and salted dry pea gravy, which allows the flavours of the paani to come through. We decided to sample some pani pooris at Ganesh Bhel in Aundh, because the ragda looked so different from the one available commonly in Bangalore. We weren’t disappointed.
I am not a big fan of warm pani pooris, but these ones were just perfect. The paani was a mix of spicy and sweet, unlike the usual only-spicy paani available elsewhere.
Mastani at Sujata Mastani, Aundh
We were told that our culinary pilgrimage in Pune wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t have a Mastani at Sujata Mastani, one of the most famous ice cream parlours in the city with over 15 outlets. We stopped by at the Aundh outlet, where I had a highly-recommended Mango Mastani and the OH opted for a Rose Mastani.
If you are wondering what a Mastani is, let me tell you that it is a rich milkshake with ice cream. The Mango Mastani was absolutely heavenly. The Rose Mastani was good too, but after the Mango Mastani, we didn’t have the eyes (or the tongue! 😛 ) for anything else.
Solkadhi in a packet on the Pune-Shirdi highway
En route to Shirdi from Pune, we stopped at a restaurant (whose name I am unable to recall now!) for tea and snacks. I noticed them selling packaged Solkadhi (a Goan-Konkani specialty drink made with coconut milk and kokum). It might not be the authentic deal, but I have got to try it out, I said to myself. I couldn’t leave without sampling it, considering that we have visited parts of Maharashtra and Goa so many times, but never had Solkadhi.
The OH and I did buy a packet of Solkadhi each, but sadly, we didn’t fall in love with it the way we had thought we would. It isn’t really our kind of drink, apparently. Or, maybe, we should try it out at a different time, in a different place?
And, with that, we come to the end of our Pune foodie chronicles – only the foodie chronicles from Pune, mind you! 🙂 There is a lot more from the trip coming up on the blog soon. Stay tuned!