Kartiki Nitin Lawate joins Jayesh Paranjape and five others to take a stroll along the bylanes of Old Pune, known for its delicious breakfast options
Taking an early morning walk around Old Pune lanes was never a sought-after weekend plan for us.
Jayesh Paranjape with participants at one of the food stops. Pics/ Mohan Patil
But when Jayesh Paranjape of Western Routes invited us to taste the local food, as served in some of the oldest restaurants, and suggested an early morning stroll around the markets of Old Pune, we couldn’t resist it.
Jayesh Paranjape (left) with participants of the Breakfast and Heritage Walk
The beginning and the Mandai
Our journey begun at around 8.50 am from Mahatma Phule Mandai, one of the oldest traditional marketplaces in Pune. Paranjape explains that people have been selling vegetables and fruits at wholesale rate, at this Mandai, after it moved from Shaniwarwada to its current location in the 1880s. The structure has eight pillars with no walls so that the smell does not stay inside; every pillar selling different items. Now, that’s some ingenious approach to attract buyers, isn’t it?
Food served at New Sweet Home
After some strolling around the market, Paranjape led our troupe — Krishna Kumar from Chennai; Shraddha Deshmukh from Hyderabad; a German expat named Helmut Scholz; Shruti Karkhedkar from Madhya Pradesh, Preeti Loni from Solapur and this reporter, a Pune resident — to Anil Snacks Centre for our first experience with the area’s food. We called for Sabudana Wada with Coconut Chatni. The eatery is one of the oldest food stores inside the Mandai.
Participants enjoying the misal at Shree Krishna Misal
Misal and other spicy tales
Satiated with our treat, we began walking towards Shree Krishna Misal located in the midst of the busy Tulsi Baug. Paranjape informs that Shree Krishna Misal serves a little less spicy misal in the area and is one of the oldest misal outlets in the city. It’s open all days in the week except on Monday, and till 2.30 pm on Sundays. Here we ordered misal, Sheera and Bhaji. Paranjape informs us that traditionally, there is no specific recipe for it. “Misal means a mixture; so a mixture of any two-three items can be called as misal,” he said. Though the misal was a bit watery for Kumar, the Sheera was very yummy. Some of us ordered buttermilk as well.
Puran Poli at Pune Guest House
After a fiery misal treat, our troupe headed towards New Sweet Home. Just a few blocks down Shree Krishna Misal, at Bajirao Road, was Murlidhar Sugarcane Juice, one of the oldest sugarcane juice centres in the city. Right opposite it is Chitale Bandhu Sweet Shop, again one of the oldest sweet shops known for its Bhakarwadi.
Mahatma Phule Mandai
Munching on Bhakarwadi, the troupe marched further down, stopping by at Vishrambaag Wada. Paranjape showed the structure from inside. Though partially burnt, the monument, built around around 1802-04 was the residence of Peshwa Baji Rao II for some time. Right next to the Wada are Navratna Bhel and Pushkarni Bhel, two very old and famous bhel outlets in the middle of the city.
It’s all about information
Meanwhile, Paranjape explains that the Breakfast and Heritage Walk offers an authentic taste of Pune from restaurants who have been serving breakfast for more than 60 years. The founder of Western Routes says that he initially started with just a heritage walk, and that the food walks were added just a year ago. “People would often stop by to eat, but at the same time they also wanted to know more of the history of the food outlet as well as dishes that they were eating. So, I decided with the food trails around a year back and so far it has been very successful,” he adds.
As traditional as it can get By this time we had arrived at New Sweet Home. Here, we treated ourselves to Kachori, Matar Karanjee, Sabudana Khichadi, Khajur Ladoo and Gulkanda Ladoo. Our next stop was Pune Guest House on Laxmi Road. One of the oldest lodging and boarding places in Pune, it was started by the Sarpodhar family. The place was a popular among film crews coming to Pune to shoot Marathi movies. The rates in this guest house are reasonable even now. Here we tried Puran Poli, Dadpe Pohe with Mirgunda (Poha Papad) and Thalipeet. The Puran Poli was thicker than we get at most places and was served with ghee on top of it. The Dadpe Pohe was cooked in a very traditional way as found in most Maharashtrian houses.
Our next stop was the Vishnu temple at Bel Bhaug Chowk. It is one of the oldest Vishnu temples in the city and is known for a beautiful rooftop, and carvings on its wooden walls and the roof.
Love trails in a cold drink shop
Our final stop was the Cold Drink House, which is one of the oldest cold drink and ice cream outlets in the city and known to serve the best Mango Mastani, a cold mango milk shake with ice cream. The cold drink house has beautiful paintings of Bajirao-Mastani, a famous couple in history. Paranjape informed that the wooden benches with their marble surface have been around for ages as well as the mirror on the walls. There are lot of old paintings in this store. Paranjape also informed that this eatery was one of the first places to have Dahi ice-cream, what we know call yogurt. Our walk finally ended around 12 pm, and by then we had walked around two kilometres and visited 12 eateries. Now, that’s a great number to end a food trail, isn’t it?
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