They came, they cooked and they continue to conquer Jamshedpur. The story of the Steel City’s zany food and folk, as told by local boy ANURAG MALLICK and PRIYA GANAPATHY
Fakira ka Chanachur, Hari ka golgappa, Swamy ka dosa, Bauwwa ji ka Chai, Lakhi Rolls, Bhatia’s Shake, Ramesh Kulfi, Kevat ka litti… Jamshedpur’s mouth-watering delights can give any Indian city a run for its money. These institutions have served entire generations, with culinary secrets passed on from father to son, recounting stories of struggle and success. Signature dishes bear their names in proud proclamation of their craft. Anyone returning to ‘Jampot’ undertakes a culinary pilgrimage of its old haunts. Such multi-cultural fare can be traced to the very foundations of the Steel City…
It all began in 1900. Visionary industrialist Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata went to Pittsburgh and asked geologist Charles Perin to help build India’s first steel plant. After scouring the harsh terrain of Chhotanagpur for 3 years, surveyors stumbled upon Sakuchi village near the confluence of the Subarnarekha and Kharkai rivers. Close to water sources and abundant in minerals the ‘black soil’ country of Kalimati was perfect. In 1907, TISCO (Tata Iron and Steel Company, today Tata Steel) was floated and construction of a township started a year later.
But to build this city, one needed more than rock and roll; one needed people. All were welcomed with open arms as they poured in from every corner of India to gain employment. Marwaris, Marathis, Madrasis, Adivasis, Punjabis, Parsis, Gujaratis, people from the eastern states and distant Burma and China, all came together in the cultural cauldron of Jamshedpur; each imbuing the city with distinct flavours from their native lands. Forged into a common identity, the city developed its own unique palate and quirky lingo!
The Early Birds
Among the early visitors was Bhola Ram Gautam who came from Vrindavan in 1909. Bhola Maharaj started a ‘shuddh desi ghee’ sweet shop in a humble jhopdi (hut). Over a century later, his time-tested sweets like Balushahi, Gujiya and Chandrakala still sell like hot cakes. His son, septuagenarian Jagdish Gautam took over after Bhola Maharaj’s death in 1936. Renovated 20 years ago, the shop bears sepia images of Bhola Maharaj, keeping watch as faithful customers return for motichur laddus and sweets. Jagdishji said, “We never compromise on quality. The key to our success is trust.”
The city’s initial development also drew in many foreigners. From English and German engineers to American pastors, the city saw several influential personalities shaping its landscape. In 1922 Abdul Subhan Midda opened Calcutta Bakery in Dhatkidih to cater to the western palate. It supplied rich plum cake and German bread to the gora sahibs in Kaiser Bungalows. Abdul Hamid Midda opened Howrah Bakery in the 1930s. His son Alam stroked his white flowing beard and lamented about the disappearance of old sweets like ‘Papa ladua’. “The people who made them are either dead or gone.”
Old-timer Ramchandar Shrivastava recounted how it was literally a jungle those days. Directors of Tata Steel visited the steel plant atop horses and elephants! Before the swanky Bistupur, the city’s oldest markets were Burma Mines, Jugsalai and Sakchi. People took bullock carts to Sakchi’s rice, palang (bed) and loha (iron) markets. Below anda (egg) line, local hooch like mahua, gudki and saunfi was sold, made from mahua flowers, jaggery and fennel. There was even a “Ganja Hotel” because bhang was sold nearby! Gaslights lit up the streets as shops opened before dawn. The old well has long been covered while the Sabji mandi opposite Sitla Mandir sits on an erstwhile lake.
Sarkar Building and Lal Building were among the earliest structures in Sakchi. The latter, built in 1927, houses Gupta ki Mithaiyan, a crumbling cubbyhole serving delicious milk sweets. Before opening this shop, founder Jagannath Gupta sold rabri and malai kalakand to workers from a khatiya (cot) outside the Tata gate. Oblivious of the red building’s heritage value, his grandson Ganesh Gupta plans to raze it and erect a tall building for himself and his brothers.
Angry Young Men
Not all came with a plan. Some came in a huff, a surprisingly recurrent motif in the city’s timeline. LN Krishna Iyer from Lakshmi Narayanapuram near Palakkad ran away from home after his mother hit him with a broom! The angry teen took a train to Tatanagar in the early ‘30s and after odd jobs and cooking at a mess, saved enough to launch The Madrasi Hotel in 1935. Till date, it is the only place in Jamshedpur serving a full South Indian meal and excellent filter coffee.
His daughter-in-law Sushila and grand daughter Gayatri shared classic anecdotes of how partygoers nursing a post-Saturday night hangover, landed up on Sunday morning to line their stomachs with greasy Ghee Fried Idlis sharing elbow space with devout Christians coming straight from mass; both united in their love for good sambar! Today, the hotel serves over 65 varieties of dosas. Just across, Anand is also a local favourite.
Another breakaway, Bartholomew D’Costa came from Goa to Mumbai via Igatpuri before finally anchoring here in 1919. It was a historic year. Lauding the city’s contribution of steel rails in the WWI, Lord Chelmsford visited the plant and christened the city as Jamshedpur in honour of its founder. During WWII, much of Tata Steel’s output was diverted to make armaments, shells and an armored vehicle called Tatanagar. Being a high value target, the city echoed with regular sirens and air raid drills. When ‘Yellow signals’ were sent from Calcutta warning of impending Japanese air raids, Bartholomew held the contract of creating smoke screens above the city by setting fire to huge tar pits.
An enterprising contractor, he set up a hotel in 1940 to lodge Allied troops. The Boulevard Hotel, quirkily located on ‘Plot No. Nil’, was built hastily and its restaurant-cum-bar often witnessed drunken brawls between American GIs and British troops. “Many of the surviving chairs have found a place in the hotel including bricks from my grandfather’s kiln marked DC”, chuckled his grandson Ronald D’Costa, who now runs the place. The old bakery, now revamped into a cool café with brick interiors, is called Brubeck Bakery, though locals mispronounce it as burbak (fool). Dave Brubeck might be turning in his grave but Ronald loves the local Jamshedpur touch. The restaurant, Chopsticks, remains the city’s rare dining space serving Goan, Parsi and Anglo Indian cuisine with classics like Roast Pork. Frank’s, the only other joint in town to serve pork, is run by the Liao family. They introduced real Chinese cuisine to Jamshedpur, long before the world discovered Maggi!
Jamshedpur was a magnet for dreamers, entrepreneurs and runaways. Smarting after a quarrel at home, Ramesh Prasad took the first train out of Jasidih and came to Jamshedpur in 1966. He knew nothing except how to make kulfi. From humble beginnings in Jugsalai, he pushed his cart to Bistupur and gained popularity outside Natraj Cinema. Heckled by goons and guards, he soon became a crusader for workers’ rights. When he got wind of a possible opening for a canteen near the Court, he floored the District Judge with just 12 singadas and 12 kulfis, earning a space to open Ramesh Kulfi in 1972.
Defying the Emergency, he sold his singadas for 30 paise instead of 15 paise, the fixed price. In a public taste challenge, his singadas proved tastier with a single piece outweighing two from the market, thus silencing his detractors. His meat-chawal shack nearby retraces his roots to Devghar, legendary for its ‘mutton, chawal, dahi and meetha’. ‘Atthe’, a thick mutton gravy cooked in ghee, onion and hand-ground masalas is divine. Since no water is added, it withstands long train journeys. Ramesh claims that people headed for Vaishno Devi eat his mutton all the way from Jamshedpur to Katra!
Sourcing country goat from weekly haats at Chandil, Balrampur or Haldipukur, they use each part judiciously – gurda (kidney), kaleji (liver), fefda (lungs), godi (trotters), mundi (head), chusta (nalli), magaj (brain). “Baal chhod ke sab use hota hai” (Everything except the hair is used), he joked. The meat is served with choice of rice – usna or boiled rice, finer arva or long-grained Dehradun. Hyderabadi Mutton (Palak Sag) is a special Sunday delicacy, besides khichdi served with aloo chokha, fries, pickle and ghee.
Mahesh Pradhan came to Jamshedpur as a boy from Delang, a small village near Puri, after a bitter spat at home. Remorseful, he decided to spread sweetness in people’s lives through his magical mocktail. Maa Tarini Cold Drink, popular as Regal Masala Cold Drink opened in 1979. The glass of fizz blended Gold Spot, Citra and Thums Up with a secret spice mix of elaichi, laung, mulethi, jeera, ajwain, kala namak and salt. When Regal Cinema was at its peak, they sold 100 crates a day (each with 24 bottles). After Mahesh passed away last year, his younger brother Raghu continues his legacy.
Unity in Diversity
Bang opposite the Regal Ground or Gopal Maidan is Bharucha Mansion, built by Khursheed Bharucha, the first Indian chief cashier of Tata Steel. Buying surplus steel girders meant for Howrah Bridge, Bharucha built the colonial mansion in pre-fabricated style in 1935. It briefly served as a Parsi lodge, eventually becoming a cinema hall and office space. We bumped into his great grandson Varun Gazder who recently renovated the common dining room on the second floor into the old world Café Regal; with lights, fans and seats salvaged from Regal Cinema! On Sundays, it serves authentic Parsi cuisine gleaned from the recipes of his great grandmother Gulbai Khursheed Bharucha.
For a true taste of Bengali fare nothing beats Jamshedpur Boarding, established in 1942, by Puleen Chakravarty. In its grimy interiors with rickety tables, patrons feast on kosha mangsho (mutton in thick potato gravy), chara pona (baby rohu) and various fish curries – rohu, hilsa, tengra, pabda, katla. A helpful Indian Railways Time Table graces one wall and the ambience instantly transports you to a Kolkata backlane.
No trip to Jamshedpur is complete without a ritual visit to the banyan tree sit-out for a glass of Bauwa ji’s Chai, infused with fresh-pounded cardamom and strained with a deft twist of a red gamchha (towel)! Shri Ram Vilas Gupta from Chhapra set up a tea and snack stall in 1942, naming it after his youngest son Laxmi Narayan Gupta, endearingly called ‘Bauwwa ji’. In those days, alu chop sold for an anna.
Proximity to institutions like XLRI and Loyola School ensured a steady footfall of students. Regulars, XLRI alumni and senior Tata executives drop by for a Sunday morning tea and smoke. Bauwwaji proudly displayed a photo with local celebrity Imtiaz Ali, who penned Jab We Met’s dialogues at this adda (hangout) over endless cups of tea and helped Vikramaditya Motwane shoot his coming-of-age movie Udaan in the city.
RS Trivedi came from Gopalpur near Kanpur and opened Nabjiban Kulfi in 1948; drawing inspiration from a nationalist newspaper. Remarkably, the 93-year-old man still sits at his shop. His time-tested recipe of reducing buffalo milk, adding crushed cashew, almonds and pista, filling it in plastic cups to be frozen in a handi with salt and ice, is unchanged. Temperature is maintained at almost -35 degrees with regular swirling. “It won’t freeze even in 5 days unless you keep swirling it. Do it for 45 mins, and the kulfi is ready” revealed his son Bharat Bhushan Trivedi. Narayan next door makes great kulfi as well.
Flavours of Punjab
For Jamshedpur, it was a case of Furious Forties. Barely recovering from wartime frenzy, the city had to brace another cataclysmic event – the Partition. Forced to leave Pakistan, many Punjabis migrated to Jamshedpur, adding to the significant Sikh populace employed in thekedari (contractors) and transportation. The city’s Refugee Market stands testimony to this event.
Located between the Macchi (fish) and Murga (chicken) Line, is a warren of roadside shops selling jalebis, laddus, sakarpara and snacks. Bhatia ke Jalebi, a 65-year-old fourth generation shop churns out hallmark glossy jalebis that remain fresh for 3-4 days. Current owner Satbir Singh’s grandfather Dayal Singh, arrived from Sheikhpura in present-day Pakistan and began selling jalebis on a thela (cart). His small hut soon became a landmark. “If you got off at Tatanagar railway station and asked somebody to take you to the jalebiwala, he’d bring you here,” Satbir Singh smiled.
This was the only jalebi shop in the area until a decade ago. Now it had became Jalebi Line! Satbir Singh, who has seen forty summers at the store, is an inventor of sorts. Crazy about watches and cars, he designed a unique clock in 2007, which runs anticlockwise but gives the right time! Press clips and quirky signs embellish his walls. “Udhar denge par 80-90 umar se upar, aur unke ma-baap se pooch kar” meaning ‘Credit will be given to those above 80-90 years, but only after seeking their parent’s permission’.
Armed with a 1st division in Urdu and Farsi from Lahore University in 1945, Surjit Singh Bhatia came to Jamshedpur from Pakistan after Partition. He tried his hand at odd jobs, selling lottery tickets, wholesale clothes to biscuits. Being a teetotaller, he decided to focus on healthy food and started Bhatia Milk Shake 45 years ago. His only pursuit was quality, not money. His son Rajinder Singh Bhatia, helping out since class 5, recalled how his brothers “groaned the day they had to grind badaam (almonds) for the shake.” His hefty frame seemed an outcome of all the exercise.
When a friend invited his father to England, he declined saying ‘Yahi hamara England hai’ (This is my England). Sadly, Surjit Singh passed away last year. Rajinder rued “Hindustan mein daaru ki kadar hai, doodh ki nahi. Jis din doodh ki kadar badh jayegi, koi daru ko nahi poochhega.” (India has respect for alcohol, not milk. The day they respect milk, people will shun alcohol!). The Bhatias source local buffalo milk, langda mangoes from Bihar, juicy pineapples from Siliguri, litchis from Muzaffarpur and rose petals from Howrah flower market to make natural juices and flavourful shakes sans essence. As people gulped the frothy shakes, it was evident they came purely for the taste.
Singara Singh came from Amritsar and worked in TISCO, while his son Karnail Singh entered the food business in the 60s. He started Karnail’s from a small hut in Sakchi where country chicken, mutton and liquor were sold, but switched to veg fare in 1985 after taking guru deeksha. Karnail Singh’s son Inderjit Singh, locally known as Bhola Babu, proudly displayed the old slate where customer’s tabs were chalked with table numbers and short codes – SD (Sada Dosa), RT (Roti), CD (Cold Drink). The building flaunted a cement flower-shaped crest with ‘1969’, its year of construction inlaid with glass marbles by Singara Singh.
Manohar Singh came from Punjab and vended Amritsari style chhole and Punjabi kulcha for 2 or 3 annas on his pushcart, way before his son Pappu Sardar was born. As a youngster Pappu ran away from home for 4 months and sold milk on the platform of Mughalsarai station. Maverick Pappu took over Manohar Chat in 1996. Part Bollywood fan, part restaurateur, part social activist, Pappu has adopted kids at a Cheshire Home, gets destitute girls married and during Ramzan, opens the restaurant only after feeding the devout. His quirky invention ‘Mixed Chat’, a tangy, sour, sweet and salty dish was an evolutionary step between a fruit salad and chat comprising samosa, chana, chips, grapes, banana, topped with mixture. One plate could easily serve 3 people!
His philosophy is simple. “It’s all teamwork. When a guy strolls in and says ‘Ek singada dena’ he doesn’t realize how many people and processes came together to make it. The farmer, potato seller, chili ginger guy, oil vendor, utensil seller, gas guy and us, so many homes benefit from one singada.” Much has been written about Pappu’s Madhuri Dixit obsession, his restaurant’s poster girl. He has been celebrating her birthday since 1996, besides launching a calendar beginning on 15 May. He secretly hopes the Government announces a holiday on her birthday and a day to honour Bollywood. He makes donations on Madhuri’s behalf for calamity relief and built a room for pilgrims in Ajmer. His deification is mentioned in the book Public Hinduism. Invited to Mumbai to meet Madhuri, Pappu turned down offers to join films. “Fans have a duty towards their favourite artist. She has tied rakhi and regards me as her brother. No brother should use his sister as a rung to progress in life. I don’t need to be in Mumbai; I can do something for Bollywood selling chat in Jamshedpur.”
Softy Corner, an ice-cream parlour by a petrol bunk, is another iconic joint. Ved Prakash Soni of Rawalpindi concocted his own recipe for the softy. His son Surender Soni recently converted the drive-in to a parlour with seating at a gas station on the opposite side. For decades, this was Jamshedpur’s favorite fix after a night drive.
Novelty Restaurant, run by Rajinder Kumar Soni for over 42 years has braved many challenges – from selling chicken curry for 50 paise to handling unruly customers at its old bar. Some would jam a knife on the bill and refuse to pay! Back then Jamshedpur was lawless, like a frontier boomtown. Today, the multi-cuisine restaurant has a South Indian counter, an ice-cream parlour and a bakery, added by his son Dheeraj. Being a price sensitive city, rates are competitive. NRIs from Jamshedpur who return for the Original Butter Chicken compliment how its taste has remained unchanged.
Some shops are so famous they don’t need a nameplate, like the chaanp stall opposite Basant Talkies. Arriving from Amritsar in the 1960s, Balbir Singh ran his roadside charcoal grill for half a century without a name. After his demise in November last year, his son Harjinder Singh named it Balbir Fried Chicken as tribute. Here, a quintal of chicken is consumed everyday. The recipe is vintage Amritsari with chicken marinated in curd for 12 hours with green chili, ginger and garlic, grilled on a wire frame and served with a generous squeeze of lime and hari (green) chutney. For chicken pakodas, he first fries the chicken chunks, chops it and fries it again to save cooking time. “Punjabi technology”, he laughs.
Bhujwalis and Chanachur walas
Tucked in the bylanes of Bistupur is Mewa Lal Bhuja Bhandar in Bhuja Line. Hailing from Machhlishahar near Jaunpur, Mewa Lal belongs to a hereditary line of ‘bhujwalis’ who have been roasting bhuja (chana, peanuts, chuda, rice) for over a century. Against the clink of groundnuts being roasted in a cast iron dish with river sand, Mewa Lal explained “Bhuja khane se pet ekdum clear aur chabane se munh, kaan, naak sab tight ho jayega” meaning ‘Eating roasted fare clears the stomach and the chewing facial exercise tones the skin!’ The store was stacked with traditional items like sattu, gajak and chikkis with sesame and jaggery besides til patti, badam patti, ramdana laddu and the intriguing gud cigarette, a crunchy jaggery stick. We discovered how jaggery and sesame (til) were hand-pounded (kut) using an iron pestle and shaped into disks called tilkut.
Fakir Chand Gupta travelled from Ghazipur, UP to work at Tata Steel. Bored with his job, he began a mixture business 60 years ago from a simple khumcha (mobile stand) near Regal Maidan. His offering of 5 items – sada chanachur, jhaal chanachur, meetha, sonpapdi and sev, sold for an anna or two. The plethora of educational institutes was a godsend for hawkers. Since each school had different timings, Fakira created a circuit from DM Madan, KMPM to Women’s College.
Following his death, sons Raj Kumar Gupta and Ashok Kumar Gupta expanded Fakira Chanachur’s repertoire of snacks. As old and new customers line up to buy packets in bulk, an instant mix of chanachur with onion, ginger, chili and lime is tossed and served in a thonga (paper pack) as a free munch! “Earlier onions cost Rs.2 a kilo. Even when it shot up to Rs.80 we didn’t stop adding onion,” Rajiv said, as he fed pigeons from his hand. Their popularity prompted them to start couriering their packets! With grandsons Rajiv, Ramesh, Anup and Anil handling multiple branches, Fakira’s legend lives on…
Girish Chanachur, started 50 years ago by Girishbhai Nanubhai Patel from Devrajia village in Gujarat, is another local favourite. Beginning his chanachur sales on a thela, he opened a shop in Machhi Market and made sweets during festivals. Marketed as ‘Sreshth’, they have 9 kinds of sonpapdi and 35 assorted mixtures. Path-breaking sweets like Kaju sanpapdi, Gulabpak and Mango (amavat) Chocolate have created a sweet storm. When Gulabpak debuted, one customer bought the whole stock before it could be displayed!
Few people in Jamshedpur don’t know Swamy ka Dosa. M Masalamani (aka Swamy), originally from Vellore, worked in TISCO’s Town Office canteen in the 1960s. After 8 years, he opened a stall outside KMPM College, selling dosas for Rs.1.50 and 2 idlis for 25 paise. He moved to Beldih Club near Loyola School and brisk business ensued. When years of standing took its toll on portly Swamy, his sons Ganesh or Tambi (younger brother) and Murthy took charge in 1994. Tambi introduced innovations like onions, butter and cheese. Shunted from Beldih School and Kalibari, he’s now near Northern Town T.O.P. behind a souped up thela with a triple burner… though the taste remains the same.
Jamshedpur’s phuchkas are a class apart and none can compete with the wizardry of Hari ka Golgappa. Forty years ago, when there were barely three golgappa walas in Telco, Hari Rajak arrived from Simultala near Jamui to sell 20 golgappas or 24 papadis for a rupee. On a good day he made 10 to 20 bucks. His work starts at 7 am – kneading dough, making puris, boiling gugni and potatoes, besides hand pounding masalas. Dunking puris in spicy tamarind water and placing it in our sal leaf cups, he humbly attributed his popularity to technique. “It’s all in the hand. Some work hard on the masala, some don’t.” His gentle demeanor is a bonus. “People who came here as kids have grown up and, return with their children. I’m either Baba, Chacha, Uncle, Bhaiyya… I can’t place everyone, but they recognize me. It feels good”.
After trying out various jobs without much luck, Lakhi Kant Mahapatro started Lakhi Egg Rolls on 15 August, 1982. Being Sunday, it seemed a good day for a new beginning. Lakhi’s has been on a roll ever since! From selling rolls for Rs.2 in a tin shed, it now has a 30-seater restaurant on the first floor. His wall-size menu includes different variations and Chinese items. People return for old times’ sake as it literally popularized the culture of rolls in the city.
Surendar Kewat opened his litti stall in 2004, but has become a household name within a decade. Mentored by his wife’s uncle Bhola Kewat, who ran his father’s 50-year-old stall near Ranchi Court, Kewat’s modest litti grew from Rs.2 to Rs.20 apiece. Made with wheat flour and a filling of sattu (toasted red gram flour), littis are roasted on an iron griddle, dunked in desi ghee sourced from Patna and served with tangy tomato chutney and aloo chokha (potato mash), perfect for wintry evenings. Thanks to Surender’s enterprising spirit, his protégés from the Kewat clan have struck out independently.
Late Ramchandra Gupta introduced Goli Soda over 60 years ago and his son Rajendra Gupta has been running the stall for three decades. “Nobody knows my name; they only know my face and my Goli Soda!” A cola or orange drink, a little lime, salt and carbon dioxide does the trick. The old soda machine is functional but the glass bottle is a relic on display. When gas was filled the goli (marble) would rise until the bottle was popped with characteristic whistle. Rajendra has switched to a plastic bottle, which lets him serve 6 soda glasses instead of two. In a hot place like Jamshedpur, the math made sense.
Inspired by the royal lifestyle of Lucknowi nawabs, Arvind Singh of Pratapgarh opened Lucknow Pan Bhandar in Sakchi 50 years ago. Gleaming brass utensils with an assortment of ingredients and fresh Kalkatta, Banarsi and Maghi betel leaves in platters, dominate the tiny shop front. Seated behind the counter is his son Pankaj Singh. “No cigarette, gutkha or pan parag is sold here; only pan. So lots of families drop by,” he says. “We make our own cherry and gulkand and sit here 18 hours a day. Our kids can’t sit for even an hour! But we won’t abandon our father’s legacy. We’ll sell pan till we are alive…”
Further up, the landmark Tinkonia Hotel started by Rajendra Prasad Shukla 48 years ago stands at the apex of a triangular plot. With counters on both sides, locals congregate for affordable short eats and sweets. Jamshedpur has a sweet tooth; a fact confirmed by the glut of mithai shops – from Gangour, Chhappan Bhog, Sakchi Misthan Bhandar to Shukla Sweets in Telco’s Azad Market. Ledikeni, a sweet tribute to Lady Canning, is locally called pantua. But the highlight is gud ka rasgulla, made from khajur gud (palm jaggery), available only during winter between November-February.
For a tiny place like Jamshedpur, its culinary diversity was mind-boggling. From Marwari basa in Jugsalai to Murga anchar (Chicken Pickle) at Howrah Bridge and bhancha-ghar (curry house) style ‘Nepali ka Chicken’ behind Voltas House to food stalls near Muslim Library and Jubilee Park churning out evening snacks at a frenetic pace, there was much to devour…
Somewhere in the streets, a dosa guy clattered his iron tava in his trademark thak-thak-thak. Inside food trucks, Nepali boys furiously tossed noodles in seasoned woks. The smell of food mingled with the slag and fumes of the steel furnace, creating orange skies. Bursting at our seams with a belly full of stories and savouries, we realized that to withstand Jamshedpur’s mammoth assault of flavours, we needed stomachs of steel…
Getting There: Jamshedpur is 140 km from Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi, the nearest airport (3 hrs by NH-33). Tatanagar Railway station is well connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata (290km, 4 hrs by Steel/Ispat Express).
Where to Stay: Most of the decent business hotels are located in and around Bistupur like Sonnet, Centre Point, Ginger Hotel, Ramada, The Alcor and the old-world Boulevard Hotel.
What to Eat:
Tambi ka Dosa
Near Petrol Pump, CH Area Ph 9031321485
Must try: Plain Dosa (Rs.30), Masala Dosa (Rs.40), Butter (Rs.50), Cheese (Rs.70), Idli (Rs.15 for 2)
Timings: 7 am-11am
Hari ka Golgappa
Owner: Hari Rajak
Road No.26, Durga Puja Maidan, Telco Colony Ph 8521631635
Must try: Golgappa/Papdi chat (Rs.10 for 5)
Bauwwa ji ka Chai
Owner: Shri & Laxmi Narayan Gupta (Bauwwa ji)
Behind Petrol Pump, Northern Town T.O.P., CH Area
Must try: Ilaichi wali chai, singada
Timings: 7 am-3:30 pm
Owner: Jagdish Gautam
111, Bhola Maharaj Lane, Sakchi Ph 0657-2230011
Must try: Motichoor Laddu, Balushahi, Gujiya, Chandrakala, Kaju barfi, Santra Kadam, Motipak
Timings: 8 am -10 pm
Gupta ki Mithaiyan
Owner: Ganesh Gupta
143, Lal Building, Sakchi Bazaar Ph 0657-2430400
Must try: Rabri 100 g (Rs.30), Rasmalai 100 g (Rs.25), Gud rasgulla (Rs.10), Lassi (Rs.25)
Lakhi Egg Roll
Owner: Lakhi Kant Mahapatro
H.No.38, Sakchi Market, Near Basant Talkies, Sakchi
Ph 0657-2439168, 2421302, 9431113568
Must try: Rolls (Rs.25-60), ½ Plate Chowmein – Chicken (Rs.70), Veg (Rs.40), Chili Chicken (Rs.100)
Timings: 11:30am-3pm, 5:30-10pm
Owner: Pappu Sardar
Near Basant Talkies, Sakchi Ph 9006769797
Must try: Mix Chat (Rs.40), Chana Chilli (Rs.50), Sambar Vada (Rs.30)
Bhatia Ji ki Jalebiyan
Owner: Satbir Singh Bhatia
Purani Jalebi Dukan No.11, Refugee Market, Sakchi Ph 9204793324
Must try: Jalebi (Rs.100/kg)
Timings: 8 am – 9:30 pm
Owner: Rajendra Gupta
Next to Lakhi Rolls, Opp Basant Talkies, Sakchi
Must try: Cola, orange, nimbu soda (Rs.20)
Timings: 10:30 am – 10 pm
Owner: Inderjit Singh
Jalebi Line, Sakchi Ph 8083875594
Must try: Butter Tadka, Mah ki Dal, Paneer Butter Masala, Paneer Kurma, Mixed Veg, Aloo Paratha
Timings: 7-11 am (breakfast), 11am-3pm (lunch), 4pm-8pm (snacks), 7pm-10:30 pm (dinner)
Lucknow Pan Bhandar
Owners: Madan & Pankaj Singh
Dhurandhar Singh Market, Sakchi Godown Mill Area, Opp Shiv Mandir, Sakchi Ph 9308082813
Must try: Chilled Meetha Pan (Rs.15)
Timings: 8 am – 1 am
Owner: Mahendra Pratap Shukla
Behind Basant Cinema, Sakchi Ph 9430721596
Must try: Singada, aloo chop, kachori, pyaji, pakodi, chai
Timings: 6 am – 10 pm
Owner: Ramesh Prasad
Court Canteen Ph 8541977545
Must try: Mutton Atthe (Rs.220), Hyderabadi Mutton (Palak Sag) on Sunday (Rs.220), Kaleji (Rs.180), Dehradun Rice (Rs.80), Prawn meal (Rs.200), Fish meal (Rs.100), Khichdi, Kulfi (Rs.50)
Timings: 11 am – 11 pm
Near Masala Patti, Churi Line Ph 0657-2428447
Shreeleather Lane, Next to Bhola Maharaj, Sakchi Bazar Ph 0657-2230256, 9334757888
Must try: Kaju ki sanpapdi, Gulabpak, Mango chocolate
Timings: Namkeen 8:30 am – 9:30 pm (sweets after 10 am)
Anand Veg Restaurant
Owner: Jayesh Ameen
No.7, J Road, Bistupur Ph 0657-2249058, 2909530
Must try: Thali (Rs.160), Khichdi Thali
Timings: 8 am-10pm
The Madrasi Hotel
Owner: Mrs. Sushila Iyer
10, J road, Bistupur Ph 0657-2249964 http://www.themadrasihotel.com
Must try: Dosas (Rs.45-100), Ghee Fried Idli (Rs.45), Filter Coffee (Rs.23), South Indian meal (Rs.100)
Timing: 8am-3pm, 5:30-8pm
Bhatia Milk Shake
Owner: Rajinder Singh Bhatia
Shop No.8&9, C-1, Fruit Market, Bistupur Ph 0657-2423173, 2320173, 9334838192
Must try: Cold Coffee, Chocolate, Mango, Mixed Fruit, Pineapple, Khus, Jamun, Orange (Rs.50)
Timing: 9am-10:30 pm
Mewa Lal Bhuja Bhandar
Owner: Mewa Lal Gupta
Bhuja Line, Bistupur Ph 9709111930
Must try: Bhuja, Layi, Sattu, Til patti, Badam patti, Til laddu, Ramdana laddu, Gud cigarette (jaggery sticks)
Owner: Surender Soni
Tiwary Bechar BP Petrol Pump, Main Road, Bistupur Ph 0657-2249495
Must try: Softy Rs.30
Owner: Rajinder Kumar Soni
Regal Mansion, Near Gopal Maidan, Kharkai Link Road, Bistupur Ph 0657-2249827 http://www.noveltyrestaurant.in
Must try: Chicken Tikka Tawa Masala, Original Butter Chicken, Crispy Chicken
Timings: 10 am-10:30 pm
The Boulevard Hotel
Owner: Ronald D’Costa
Tata Hata Main Road, Bistupur Ph 0657-2425321/22, 8501100788 http://www.theboulevardhotel.net
Must try: Roast Pork (Rs.190), Roast Chicken (Rs.165), Pork Vindaloo (Rs.150), Gravy chowmein (Rs.165), Mutton Cutlet (Rs.160), Baked Yoghurt (Brubeck café)
Owner: Raj Kumar Gupta
Main Road, Traffic Signal Light, Kamani Centre, Bistupur Ph 0657-2320542, 9334351075
Must try: ½ kg Chanchur (Rs.80), Soya sticks, Banana/potato chips, chatpati, moong dal, badam pakoda, badam patti, petha, gathiya
Maa Tarini/Regal Cold Drink
Owner: Raghu Pradhan
Next to Petrol Pump, Regal Maidan, Bistupur Ph 9431522959
Must try: Masala Cold Drink – Fanta-Thums Up, Sprite-Thums Up, Mazaa-Sprite, Mazaa-Fanta (Rs.20)
Owner: Midda brothers
Dhatkidih Market Area Ph 0657-2228990
Must try: Cake, pastries, Veg Patty, Chicken Patty, Plum Cake, Jam Biscuit, Tiranga, Nankhatai, Besan Biscuit, Khara Biscuit, Coconut Biscuit, Walnut biscuit, Methi Biscuit, Shahjeera
Timings: 8 am-1pm, 3pm-9pm
Surender Kewat ka Litti
Owner: Surendar Kewat
9 No. Bus Stand, Kalimati Road, Sakchi Golchakkar (Near Gurudwara) Ph 9931114842
Must try: Litti chokha chutney (Plain Rs.15/plate, Ghee Rs.20/plate)
Timings: 5pm – 10 pm
Owner: Bharat Bhushan Trivedi
106, Sakchi Bazar Ph 0657-2424793
Must try: Kulfi falooda (Rs.40)
Balbir Fried Chicken (BFC)
Owner: Harjinder Singh
Opp Basant Talkies, Sakchi Ph 9955352461
Must try: Chicken chaanp (Rs.200), 250 gm Chicken Pakoda (Rs.80)
Owner: Sanjay Chakravarty
N Road, Bistupur Ph 0657-2321484
Must try: Bengali meals – Chicken (Rs.190), Mutton (Rs.200), Fish (Rs.150), Veg (Rs.80)
Timings: 12:30-3pm, 8-9:30 pm
Owner: Varun Gazder
2nd Floor, 35 Bharucha Mansion, Bistupur Ph 8102514777
Must try: Cold Coffee (Rs.130), Chicken pasta in white sauce (Rs.240), Sunday Parsee Special (Rs.370)
Timings: 3pm-10pm (Mon-Sat), 1pm-10pm (Sun)
Authors: Anurag Mallick & Priya Ganapathy. This is the unedited version of the article that appeared in the March 2015 issue of Outlook Traveller magazine.