Varanasi /Benaras or Kashi is the oldest city that is rich in culture, high on spirituality, and unparalleled for taste buds. Varanasi is not just a spiritual city, it’s a heavenly place and a foodies paradise. Varanasi is very well known for its scrumptious and appetizing food. The food in Varanasi talks a lot about its flavor and taste. You just cannot miss gorging on those eatables while you are in Varanasi.
This pious city “Varanasi” was on my list for a long time. This January my husband and I visited this divine place when the weather was supposed to be cold and just perfect to explore and indulge in food. Before traveling to any place I do all my research, read blogs, and watch vlogs about the city. So before going to Varanasi, I had a list of places to visit to eat. So this post is about the top 10 places that we had visited and found the best food in the claustrophobic lanes of Varanasi.
List of places to eat in Varanasi
1) Breakfast at Budhiya ki kachori, Lanka, Opposite Ravidas Gate, Varanasi
The inviting sight and saporous aroma of Kachori, sabzi, and jalebis fill every ghat and streets of the city each morning. This place starts at 7 am and you can see it throngs with people from all over the city to eat here. So for morning breakfast, we headed to the most famous Budhiya ki kachori stall. We had heard a lot about this place for its famous Kachori and pumpkin/aloo rasa subzi and hot and crispy jalebis. The crispy puri stuffed with urad dal (that is what they call kachori in North India) dipped in pumpkin curry simply tantalized our taste buds. The curry was just perfect, not too spicy so we enjoyed relishing it with hot kachoris.
Puri Subzi (Curry) is the authentic, rather staple breakfast of Benarasi. So while in Rome live like Romans, and while in Benaras eat like a Benarasi. Puris are fried right in front of your eyes and served hot and crisp. This breakfast was absolutely lip-smacking and satisfying.
The breakfast in Varanasi is said to be incomplete without indulging in hot, sweet, and crispy jalebis. It tastes good and you can relish the whole thing in one bite. We had our share of jalebis and to be honest the jalebis here tasted very different from what we are used to having it here in Mumbai. But nevertheless, it tasted yummy and sweet, and relishing it piping hot from the Kadai tasted heavenly. The whole process of watching jalebis being fried in front of our eyes was interesting.
Do visit this place in the early morning for a hot and delicious breakfast, as later you will see people flocking for taking away parcels at home. It gets crowded too much later. The surrounding of the place is not so hygienic, so take away is a great option as well. The heavenly taste of these sweet, fried rings soaked in sugar syrup can cure your sweet-tooth cravings in just one bite. But honestly, you’ll never get enough of them!
2) Pahalwan Lassiwala – Lanka, Opposite Ravidas Gate, Varanasi
After our breakfast of kachori-subzi and jalebis, we headed to Pahalwan Lassiwala that is right next to Budhiya ki Kachori. This Lassiwala is close to the Benaras Hindu University (BHU) and if you are coming from the university side you can easily spot this place on the right side of the crossing and it is always crowded. This lassiswala is very well known for its authentic lassi served every day. The lassis served here in Varanasi are very thick, sweet served with a dollop of fresh cream and dry fruits with a few drops of rose water that makes it more aromatic. It is like a meal in itself and really sinful. After having a heavy and tummy filled breakfast we opted out to try lassi.
However, we preferred to have Malaiyo instead as this is one of the delicacies here prepared only in winter.
What is Malaiyo
Malaiyo is a winter, foaming, frothy saffron flavored milk that is made from raw milk and dew drops. Well, this is a very well secret recipe in the entire Uttar Pradesh that is available only during winters. It is one of the specialties of Varanasi and especially while you are visiting this place in winter you cannot miss it.
An authentic way to have Malaiyo
Malaiyo is served in earthen kulhad (small glass made of clay) and it is filled to the top. You will initially feel that it may get too heavy on your stomach, but when you dig in the first spoon of that froth you will finish it in one go. It is so airy, light, and delicious. Once you finish having the foamy saffron milk, they will serve you hot saffron milk in the same kulhad so that whatever remains in the kulhad mixes with the warm milk and finally you drink it.
If you are visiting Varanasi in winter I recommend you try Malaiyo here.
3) Chai in Kulhad at any tea stalls, Varanasi
Tea served in kulhad or earthen pots is one the most satisfying experience in Varanasi. For a tea-holic like me who needs tea at least thrice a day to kick off the laziness in me, this was like an energy booster. The tea tastes delicious with cardamom and freshly ground spices.
You will find these tea stalls in every nook and corner of the city and ghats of Varanasi It tasted good and the earthy aroma emanating from the kulhad is divine. Do experience this.
4) The Blue Lassi shop at Kachori Gulli Near Burning Ghat, Varanasi
This popular tiniest Blue Lassi shop that is painted BLUE is very well known for its different flavors of lassis. It serves the best, creamiest, and yummiest lassi for the past 80 years. The quality, flavor, and taste is simply class apart. This Blue Lassi shop spoils you with at least 70-80 different and fresh flavors of lassi. You name it, think of it and it is there on the menu card. Be it chocolate, blueberry, coconut, grapes, orange, or mango, the flavors are as fresh as the lassi. Blue Lassi is a prominent entry in Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor\’s favorite so there’s a constant flow of tourists here coming from all parts of the world. There are also messages and good quotes and photos that are placed by travelers from all over.
The shop is situated near the burning Ghat that is very close to the river so the dead bodies will pass by very often while you are relishing on lassis and listening to trance music. Well, that’s the irony of life-right ??
For three generations grandfather, father and now the son sits here in the same position and prepares lassi. It is a legacy that is passed on here. You can spot the pictures of the grandfather in the shop. I had ordered coconut lassi and my hubby went for pomegranate lassi.
It took a while for our order to reach us, and meanwhile, I saw the entire process of making lassi. This man was churning the yogurt in a broad vessel called Handi with a wooden churner and crushing the fruits to get the maximum flavors from them. Lassis are served in earthen pots or kulhad and it’s a concoction of thick and sweetened yogurt with infused fruits and a dollop of fresh cream and finally topped with fresh fruits.
Once they served the lassi we were merrily savoring it and enjoying the vibe of this place. After you are done drinking your Lassi, you have to throw away the kulhad in the trash can. They are very eco-friendly and decompose in no time.
They also provide a free wi-fi service in case you want to go live on Instagram from here-wink!! The experience at Blue Lassi shop in totality was very ambiguous, something I can\’t really express but just relax and enjoy your lassi here.
Try the seasonal fruits here, coconut flavor, and BhaangThandai (at your own risk).To reach this place simply follow the signs of Blue Lassi once you enter Kachori Gully. If it gets confusing while you are in the narrow lanes keep asking people for it and they will guide you towards it or also ask someone directing you to the road of burning ghat.
5)Kashi Chaat Bhandaar near Dashashwamedh Ghat, Varanasi
If you are in Varanasi, you can not miss the most delicious, mouth-watering, tangy, and spicy Chaats. Kashi chaat Bhandar is one of the most famous places to relish some yummy and authentic chaat dishes which are available only in Uttar Pradesh state. Our experience: Kashi Chat Bhandar is a small place, hustling-bustling and always overcrowded with people and foreigners alike. They will usually ask you to share the table with other people if there is no space. We ended up sharing our table with a couple and found it very uncomfortable to fit in a small place. Luckily after placing our order, we saw a table right next to us that was getting empty. So we immediately shifted there. The waiter showed a big frown on our face and was arguing with us that we should not shift here as they had promised that table to some foreigners. We were equally adamant and insisted not to get up from that table. After all this crap and shit, our orders finally arrived and that seemed to bring a huge smile to our face.
What we ate at Kashi Chat Bhandar
Tamatar chat: This is one of the unique chaat items in Varanasi. I had heard a lot about the “Tamatar (Tomato) Chat” of Banaras and had also read about it in many food blogs. So I had big expectations about it and. Tamatar (Tomato) chat is a chaat made up with tomatoes, mashed potatoes served with assortments of chutneys, and garnished with a crunch of onions and salty savories. It was a little spicy, tangy, and oily. But overall it tasted good and the whole idea of serving it in an Earthen bowl won my heart.
Palak Chaat: Another famous chat of Banaras is Palak Chaat that is not available in Mumbai or other parts of the city. It is crispy batter fried spinach leaves served with tamarind and spicy coriander chutney and sweetened with yogurt. The whole thing blended very well and the chaat tasted sweet, tangy, and delicious. Perhaps I will try this a home.
Aloo Tikki: This is the most staple chatpaata chaat and is made with mashed potatoes along with spices and later deep or shallow fried in oil. It is served with cold and sweet yogurt along with tamarind and coriander chutney and garnished with some fine coriander leaves.
Chuda Matar (Peas): The name sounded a bit fancy so we ordered Chuda Matar hoping something different. But when it arrived it was basically Poha served with green peas, dry fruits, and topped with mini savories. It tasted good, but you can avoid ordering it if you don’t have an appetite.
Gulab Jamuns: After polishing all the spicy, mouth-watering, and tangy-sweet chaats it was time for some sweet dish to balance all our taste buds. There were options of kulfi faloodas, gajar (carrot) halwa, and a few more, but we diced to order our favorite Gulab Jamuns. Trust me they were absolutely delicious and sinful. Wished we had more appetite to try other sweets. But we ended our fare with this sweet note.
Go there when it is less crowded. Ask for a decent table where you can eat peacefully. I will highly recommend trying tamatar chaat, palak chaat, aloo Tikki, and gulab jamuns. Also, it’s worth the price you pay.
6) Lemon tea near Assi Ghat, Varanasi
You cannot miss Lemon tea at Assi Ghat. There are tea stalls that prepare the tea concoction and later a man roams around near the ghats with a kettle, disposable glasses, lemon, lemon squeezer, and the most addictive masala that goes in the lemon tea. Sip on this lemon tea while strolling at Assi Ghat.
7) Breakfast at Banaras Haveli at Assi Ghat, Varanasi
If you are looking for a relaxed and breakfast with a beautiful view then go to the rooftop at Banaras Haveli. The place is beautiful with small pots of flowers and colorful chairs. The place has an entire view of the Assi Ghats and you can see the action happenings on every terrace of the households. We had ordered for Tea, Toast sandwich, and Stuffed Parathas. The sandwiches were fairly OK, but the stuffed parathas were uber delicious. My tip: Enjoy the view here and indulge in some hot and yummy staple breakfast here.
8) Pizzeria Vaatika Cafe at Assi ghat, Varanasi
This Pizzeria Vaatika Cafe in Varanasi is very well known for its delicious pizza and apple pie. We did go to this place but it was crowded so we had to give this a miss. But do visit this place if you are at Assi Ghat.
9) Most famous Benaras Paan at any nook and corner of Varanasi
The most famous thing to eat in Banaras is Paan. You cannot leave this place without having paan here. There are a variety of paans available here and you can go with your choice of paan. Ask for a little tobacco in case you want to get the kick of it. I spotted this paanwala in the narrow lanes of Vishwanath Gali.
10) Gajak near Thateri Bazaar in Varanasi
Gajak is a dry sweet made up of sesame seeds, jaggery, and sugar. They are very popular sweets in Varanasi available mainly during winters. Sesame seeds are meant to be eaten during winters as they give warmth to your body. So ideally you will spot many such thelas or stalls selling yummy varieties of Gajaks. I spotted this stall at the corner of Thatheri Bazaar. He had tons of varieties of Gajak made from sugar and jaggery. You can try the sample before indulging, so you can select your choice. We tasted and picked up some delicious Gajaks from here. Also, they are great for taking away back home for your family and friends.
These are the compilations of the places about where and what to eat in Varanasi. There are many more places that have been left out and a few places that I might not be aware of. If you have places that you may feel worth visiting it then do drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will include that place in my post with due credit given to you.
Also, check my detailed blog on Bithoor, my first tryst with Ganges if you have plans to visit Kanpur.