Agra is unquestionably known for being the city of love and Mughal magnificence, but it is also the city where the way to one’s heart starts through the stomach. Agra’s specialities are offered in a variety of settings; they can be found sizzling in a street vendor’s oily karahi (deep cooking-pot) or fancily presented in a fine-dining restaurant. Read on to discover some of the specialities that Agra offers.
This is a typical Agra breakfast that curbs both savory and sweet cravings. Bedai is a fried, puffy bread made up of healthy whole wheat flour instead of processed wheat flour. It is usually served with hot lentils, or spicy green vegetables and potatoes with a dollop of curd. Jalebi is a sticky sweet dessert that is made by deep-frying flour into circular or pretzel shapes and then soaking it in hot sugary syrup.
The best bedai and jalebis are found at Deviram, they are freshly prepared and usually run out by early afternoon. Locals of Agra are easily spotted on the street corner devouring these beauties at five rupees (US$0.76) a piece.
Its conveniently located close to the Taj Mahal, GMB allows tourists to stop by and devour Agra’s local speciality even if they are on a short-day trip. It is the ideal spot to enjoy freshly made jalebis early in the morning or late in the evening.
A traditional, savory dry snack that is particularly enjoyed with a chilled drink or two. Dalmoth is made with lentils, nuts, spices and oil, and is fried until it turns crispy and slightly greasy. The freshest and crunchiest dalmoth is found at Panchi Petha House. Dalmoth is usually pre-packaged into boxes and can be found at almost all sweetmeat shops in Agra.
Tourists travel to Agra for two main things—the Taj Mahal and petha. This sugary white pumpkin sweet has been associated with Agra for many years; it used to be the snack of choice at the city’s train stations. White pumpkin is cooked in sugary syrup and is offered in a variety of colorful flavors such as coconut, saffron or pineapple.
The best petha can be found at Pancchi Petha but be careful you can find many fake shops that operate under the same name (for example the one just above!). The original Pancchi Petha store can be found in Sadar Bazar. Ask to taste a few different flavors before deciding which one to buy. The price of the pethas range from 200–400 rupees (US$3–US$6) per box.
The go-to place for all Agra locals, Chimmanlal Puri Wale is located close to Jama Masjid and Kinari Bazar. It serves a combination of one of the yummiest vegetable curries and puris (deep-fried indian bread). It’s the perfect place for tourists to stop by for lunch once they have explored the surrounding bazars like Johri Bazar and Kinari Bazar, as the food is authentic Indian food and is at a very reasonable price.
Drive down Sanjay place and you will be able to spot a popular street vendor serving authentic sweet and spicy aaloo chat—a combination of spicy potatoes and tangy fruit and vegetables. The locals of Agra will guarantee that it is impossible to stop at just one serving! Walk down the street just opposite the famous bakery ‘My Kind Of Place’ and you will spot a team of three men, chopping away, deep-frying and casually serving everyone on the roadside.
Another popular spot found at Sanjay Place is ‘Sai Juice Point’ , a five minute walk from the aloo chaat stall and the best remedy to cool down after such a spicy treat. The punch is a colorful mix of fruits and is worth a try in the sweltering heat of Agra.
Some like it crisp while others like it soft—paratha is a pan-fried flat bread made from wheat-flour. Usually filled with various ingredients such as potatoes or cottage cheese, it was a very common staple food among the Mughals and still is. Parathas are often served in a circular silver or metal plate called a thaali and are accompanied with a chutney and a dollop of curd. The crispiest, freshest parathas can be found at Ram Babu Paratha Bhandar which has two main stores—you can spot one in the narrow, congested streets of Belanganj (see the entry below) and one just off the Agra-Delhi highway. The one on the highway is usually a popular spot for tourists and locals travelling to and from Agra, especially during lunch hours.
This famous oldie is the second of the two Ram Babu Parathe branches and can be spotted in the narrow, congested streets of Belanganj serving one of the most authentic aloo parathas in town. It is the perfect experience for a tourist—you will be able to watch the crowd, dodge the bustling cars and devour one of Agra’s finest specialities.
Think peppery, crispy and tangy and Agra’s popular road-side chaat instantly comes to mind! All kinds of savory snacks including fried wheat puffs, potatoes and chickpeas are usually garnished with coriander leaves, onions, hot spices and served with yogurt and tamarind sauce. Agra is famous for its aaloo tikki (potato chickpea cutlet) which is known as bhalla in the city. Sadar Bazar is the go-to place to try out this speciality, where it is served in small clay bowls.
Creamy, smoked curries cooked with dried fruit, nuts and an abundance of whole and ground spices perfectly describes authentic Mughlai food, which originated from Agra and then expanded to other cities of India. To try this cuisine like a true king, head over to a fine-dining restaurant like Peshawri at ITC Mughal. As soon as you enter, they walk you to your table and hand you their signature aprons to wear to protect your clothes, which makes the experience different and all the more enjoyable.
The Mughal Room at Hotel Clarks Shiraz is also another great option to experience authentic Mughal food in Agra. It serves one of the best mango chutneys; pair it with their melt-in-your-mouth kebabs and crispy parathas.
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