Shabby chic eats

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

  • After a grueling six-hour motorbike trek from Delhi, I’ve arrived in Jaipur. It’s pretty late when Nitin and I arrive in the city and find a hotel (after visiting a few). The pair of us are hungry so after freshening up Nitin and I head out looking for somewhere to eat.

    There are no shortages of little roadside eateries and we’re not feeling fussy so we stop at the first one. It’s located at an enormous and noisy road junction under the highway bridge. Across the road, ladies are sitting threading flower garlands under lanterns. The air is full of fumes, the endless chorus of horns from speeding vehicles, and the aromas wafting from the kitchen of the place we’ve chosen to eat.

    Behind the roadside kitchen, the dining room is basic, typical of this kind of eatery. We wash our hands under a tap attached to a wobbly pipe above a large plastic drum that fills with water as the tap runs. Then we sit down on metal benches beside a wall that reminds me of those carefully ‘distressed’ wall finishes in trendy ‘shabby chic’ cafes.

    A man takes our order; two servings of spicy vegetable curry with japatis and yogurt. It arrives quickly on metal trays, steaming hot and served with water (though I’ve purchased bottled mineral water from a little shop nearby). No cutlery, of course, but we waste no time using our hands and scooping up the delicious curry with the japatis.

    There’s a TV perched on a dangerously shakey shelf with wires trailing across the ceiling to an over-loaded multi-socket which itself hangs from another socket on the wall. A Bollywood movie is coming and going through a static fog on the screen like some distant SOS signal, but nobody is watching.

    For me, these kinds of places are part of the fun of travel. Local food by local people with local people. So while I doubt that Michelin are about to give this place a single star anytime soon, the curry is actually very good and without a doubt certainly great value at less than a dollar each!