Varanasi or Banaras, as it was earlier known, is a renowned tourist destination which draws people from all over the world. The pulsating culture, the overwhelming ghats of Ganga, the eccentric way of life, the chaotic gullies, the historic temples, the yogi babas and the monuments of Banaras are sure to guarantee its visitors an uplifting spiritual experience. Varanasi is like a canvas on which different vivid colors are fading into each other and creating this beautiful complex painting. The city sees thousands from around the world enter its winding lanes and tiny alleyways every day, looking for something and being completely surprised or intrigued by what this town has to offer.
Everyone is familiar with the classical music scene, the monuments, the beautiful sarees, and the Naga sadhus of Varanasi. But the narrow streets of this temple town have much more to offer and explore. While you’re taking in the sights and smells of Varanasi, you can also enjoy the delectable street food available here. Start your day with the creamy butter toast served with chai and Kachori for breakfast, and end it with tasty the Banarasi chaats and jalebis. It would be criminal to miss the street food here.
Best Street Food In Varanasi
1. Kachori Sabzi
kachori Sabzi is a popular breakfast option here in Varanasi. The kachori is either stuffed with dal ki pithi i.e. masala made of lentils or with a spicy potato masala. These Kachoris are served with a spicy aloo ki sabzi. This drool-worthy combination is definitely a must try.
Where to eat: Chachi ki Dukaan in Lanka
2. Channa Dahi Bada
Deep fried bada made from channa is soaked in thick beaten sweet yogurt. This is then garnished with masala, crushed black pepper, cumin and coriander among other things. This perfect mix of sweet and sour is very light
Where to eat: Deena Chat Bhandar, Dashashwamedha ghat
3. Safed Makhan Toast
An early morning breakfast of Safed Makhan Toast with chai is a great way to start your day. Locally sourced bread is toasted over a coal oven and freshly made yellow or white butter is spread generously over it. The toast is either served with a pinch of chaat masala or sugar depending on your preference.
Where to eat: Laxmi Chai Waley Restaurant near Maldahiya
Thandai is milk flavored with a variety of spices. You can find different variants of the Thandai on the streets of Varanasi depending on the seasonal fruit. The most popular version is the Kesaria Thandai of Banaras, which is known for its unique taste. It is usually served without bhang unless you ask for it to be added.
Where to go: Baba Thandai, Godowlia
5. Laaiya Channa
Laiya Channa is a snack made from soaked boiled Channa. It is similar to bhel puri; except the puffed rice is substituted with channa. Boiled channa is mixed with masalas, peanuts, chopped tomato, and onion. This snack is usually served with chai.
Where to go: Deena Chat Bhandar
6. Chooda Matar
Chooda Matar is just a Benarasi version of Poha. Flattened rice is soaked in ghee and stir-fried with fresh green peas and a variety of spices. Cream, milk, coriander, saffron, and raisins are added to improve the flavor. It is a light evening snack and you can enjoy it with a cup of hot masala chai.
Where to go: Deena Chaat Bhandar, near Dashashwamedh Ghat
This regional delicacy is usually prepared during the festival of Holi, but you can find it on the streets of Varanasi all throughout the year. The crispy covering made of pastry dough is filled with milk solids(mawa), nuts and sugar. This fried delight is then soaked in flavored sugar syrup and served. One or two pieces of these are enough to satiate your sweet tooth.
Where to go: Rajbandhu, Kachauri Gali Chowk
8. Baati Chokha
Baati chokha is one of the popular foods found on the streets of Varanasi. Baati is a type of Indian Bread with a filling of chatpate sattu and is served with Chokna which is a mixture of mashed potatoes, tomatoes, baked brinjal, and spices. You can find Baati Chokha almost everywhere on the streets of Varanasi as well as plush restaurants.
Where to go: Baati Chokha
This delicious street food of Varanasi is prepared from milk and served in small earthen cups called Kulhad. This dish has Persian origins and is flavored with cardamom and saffron. It is garnished with almonds and pistachios and sometimes served with flavored. It is so light and frothy in texture that it melts in your mouth.
Where to go: Godowlia Chowk
10. Dahi Chutney wale Gol gappe
This is the sweet version of the traditional Gol gaapa and is also called meethe golgappa. It is very similar to the to the papdi chaat, except the paapdi is replaced with crispy wafer-thin pooris. This popular Banarasi chaat is sold in almost all the chaat bhandars in Varanasi.
Where to go: Deena Chat Bhandar
11. Rabri Malai Lassi
The Banarasi Lassi is different from the Punjabi lassi. The local Banarasi Lassi is a complete meal in itself. Hand-churned lassi is topped with a generous amount of Rabri and Malai. This thick concoction is served in earthen pots with a generous sprinkling of crushed pistachios.
Where to go: Blue lassi, Kachuri Gali Chowk, Varanasi
12. Tamatar Chaat
Banaras has its own version of the Aloo Tikki which is made using tomatoes. Hing, ground ginger, green chilies, tomatoes are added to mashed potatoes. Chaat masala is sprinkled on this preparation and it is served in Dona, which is a bowl made of Palash leaves. You should absolutely try this Banarasi specialty while you are here
Where to go: Deena Chat Bhandar near Dashashwamedha ghat
13. Banarasi Paan
Banarasi paan is popular all over the world for its rich taste. Bollywood songs are have been written about this famous paan. The Banarasi paan is made by stuffing paan leaves with betel nut, chuna, kiwam, snuff, rose chutney, baba chutney, coconut, catechu among other ingredients. Paan has a symbolic value here and is served in a special nawabi style. Enjoy the exotic flavors of Banarasi paan during your stay here.
Where to go: Deepak Tambul Bhandar, Dashashwamedh Ghat
14. Kulhad Chai
Tea or chai is as ubiquitous in Varanasi as its spiritual establishments. The refreshing chai is served in earthen pots. The chai here is thicker than the normal tea and the kulhad gives it a unique flavor. Enjoy a cup hot chai at the ghats of Varanasi while you’re here.
Where to go: Lakshmi Chaiwallah
Buniya is made during special occasions pujas or festivals and is served as prasad in most temples in Varanasi. Tiny balls of gram flour are fried and soaked in sugar syrup, making it extremely sweet and juicy. This delicious sweet should be a part of your food journey in Varanasi.
Where to go: Chir Sagar at Sonarpura Crossing
The food in Varanasi blends easily with its diverse culture and traditions. The ceaseless zigzagging lanes of this city are filled with curious tourists, lazing cows, and food stalls. The tiniest of eateries here have the tastiest food. Every tiny bit of Varanasi reflects the unique character of the city, and you can’t help being surprised every minute you’re here. You should visit this city at least once and experience the complexities of this city.
If you have a favorite Varanasi street food which we might have missed, please let us know in the comments section.