Amdavad aka Ahmedabad, the Manchester of India, was my first stop on the way to Diu. We already know that Gujarath is a heaven for vegetarians. Owing to the time constraints, we could not explore much but we decided to visit the Manek Chowk, a hotspot for the night street food in Ahmedabad. The atmosphere here is so adaptable that it is a vegetable market early in the morning and a Jewellery market as the Sun goes above the head and is an unremitting ‘Khau Gali’ when the sky turns dark. There was a video by #JollyFoodFellow doing rounds in the food groups here. But before stepping foot into Manek Chowk, my friend wanted to check the Bhatiyar gali as he was in mood for some non-vegetarian food because we heard that the Bhatiyar gali offers some very good meaty delights.
As my friend was freely venturing into the narrow lanes looking for his love in the grilled form, I spotted this place called ‘Gandhi Cold drinks house’. We went to check it out and the menu looked interesting. Upon enquiring, we found that this is a very old place. We ordered Chocolate Anjeer Ice cream and Mawa Malai ice cream. The Chocolate Anjeer was a combination I never tried before and I loved it from the first spoon itself. Mawa Malai was very creamy and the flavours were subtle. We asked for recommendations from the owner and he suggested us to try their Royal Faluda and Rose milk cold drink. I loved both. Although I had better faludas back in Hyderabad, I loved the rose milk more.
As we came out of there, I spotted a small cart with lots of egg trays stacked up and it gave me a hint that it might be an exclusively eggs serving place. Curious me, went to check out the menu and was totally dumbfounded for those choices that could spoil anyone. I ordered an egg bullet fry, where the boiled egg was cut into 2 pieces and was deep fried. It was good with the masala and onions. I asked the guy to suggest and he made his ‘Lucky Special’ for me. It was the best egg dish I ever tasted. It was a spicy bhaji with boiled egg pieces and the yolk made the gravy a bit thick and there were gratings of egg white which looked like cheese. I thought this Pav and egg bhaji (Royal Special) would be the best thing of that night but I was unaware how much the Manek Chowk can astound me.
We ran to Manek Chowk from here to make the most of our times and oh dear lord! It was a thursday night and the crowd there looked like it was thronged by a legion. My journey there started with the Butter Pav Bhaji from Mahalaxmi Pav Bhaji, where the butter was floating on the bhaji. The Bhaji was so flavourful and there was no artificial colouring added to it. One of the best Pav Bhajis I had. The Dosa from Balan Dosa was good but having access to Karnataka Benne Dosas in my life, I didn’t find this anything more than average. But the Sambhar was thick and the flavours were on spot tasting a little tangy and spicy with the hing giving it’s aroma. The PineApple Cheese Sandwich from the Manek Sandwich center took my experience here to a whole new level. The cheese gratings were overloaded with a slice of canned pineapple which was very juicy. Although it had extra artificial pineapple syrup, which gave extra sweetness to it, the cheese played a pivotal role in balancing the flavours. It was one hell of a juicy tasty sandwich I had.
Just when we thought of leaving as we were in a hurry, I spotted Asharfi kulfi and I couldn’t help but got a Rose coconut Kulfi and a RajBhog. The rose coconut combination was so soothing. Both flavours were complementing each other as the rose takes it role first and the coconut leaves as an after taste. The Rajbhog tasted more of like a kesar flavoured kulfi with dry fruits on it. The Kesar flavour was a bit strong but honestly I liked it that way.
Although we didn’t try everything that was there, whatever I had made me understand why Amdavadis love Manek Chowk and fondly say ‘Aapnu Amdavad, aapnu Manek Chowk’.