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Monday, March 24, 2008

Pyaarelal Kachoriwala, Vadodara

I'm not a kachori fan. Yes, once in a while I do become partial to the tiny khaasta kachoris from Camy Wafers at Grant Road but unlike any self-respecting Bengali, I don't fancy having kachori and alu dum for a Sunday breakfast.
So when I stumbled upon Pyaarelal Kachoriwala near the Sur Sagar Lake in the old city area of Vadodara (Baroda, if you please), I didn't think much of it. But my sister-in-law did. "It's one of the best kachori joints in India. And it's over 50 years old," she remarked. And since I like all things that are old, I didn't have much occasion to say, "No."
As the man behind the counter of this decripit shack of a shop dressed up the giant kachori balls with murmura (puffed rice), sev and onions, his accomplice caught my attention.
He stood next to a wooden stool on which was placed a giant cane basket aka tokri of half-chopped onions. He held two large iron knives in his hands. In alternating sweeps he would bring them down on the onions in the tokri (much like a drummer brings the sticks down on a nagara)...left, right, left.... Voila! The onions were finely chopped. I had never seen anything like that before.
I realised this was the Pyaarelal 'performance' for all those who had to wait in the queue for their giant bhel-kachoris.
As for the kachoris, they were huge, crunchy with murmura and sev and sickeningly sweet from jaggery and tamarind chutney. There were some varieties too - alu-kachori, pyaaz-kachori and Jain kachori, all reasonably priced between Rs 8 to Rs 12.

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