Secret Local Lunch Spots #1
Meet Sita Ram.
Owner and chef extraordinaire at my favourite lunch spot in the Old City of Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Exploring the food in India is one of my favourite things about being here, and I’m not one to shy away from food trucks, street snacks and local restaurants. You have to use your discernment, as always, but generally some of the best and unexpected flavours come from these hidden little gems, and not the standard rooftop tourist restaurant with a sunset view.
“Sita Ram’s Restaurant” -named specifically for this blog post as he’d never needed a name for it before, is situated just outside of the Udai Pol palace gate (near Jaleb Chowk) within the parking area and among some other chai and snack stands. There’s only one thing on the menu at this simple pop up food stop: palek paratha and curry, served with red and green chilli chutneys and curd.
The thing with places that only serve one thing, is that they tend to do it really well. They nail it.
Paratha is a common type of flat bread that is served in India, especially in the North, and is different to roti or chapathi in that it contains a little oil in the dough -this gives it a different consistency and especially tasty flavour. Sita Ram also adds spinach (palek, or sag) to his wholemeal flour, as well as some herbs, and he makes a huge, fresh ball of dough at 8am every morning. At the same time, he’ll tend to his curry of the day, always made with local curd and spinach, and then tempered with his personal combination of spices.
When you come for food, be that breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack, all you need is 10 rupees and a minute to wait for your paratha to be cooked up and served hot. You can choose from the red and green chilli chutneys to accompany your dish… note, the green chillies are mild but the red chutney paste is a hot and spicy combination of red chilli, ginger and white pepper. If it gets too much for you, there’s also complimentary curd on hand, to add to your meal and cool the heat down.
You’ll be asked how many paratha you’d like, and it’s just 10Rs for each serving -that's 20 cents Canadian, or about 12 pence British. I love coming here because the guys that run it are so friendly, the food is fresh but ready in an instant, and there’s always some fun conversation among the taxi and tour bus drivers that mostly come to eat here.
Sita Ram asked me to add his restaurant into a guide book so that he can expand beyond his Indian friends -I think he’s enjoying sharing his food with a wider audience. I don't have a guide book but I do have this blog, and I like to help people where I can. So, if you ever find yourself in the old city and being overwhelmed by food options, unsure of what’s good, unsure of how much to pay, or interested in trying something local but ‘safe’… then make this guys day and drop by to say hi.
Open 8am-5pm every day, 10Rs a piece. Look for the blue tarp and a couple of steel benches, a little to the left of the entrance gate if you have your back to Jaleb Chowk. Oh, and if you’re going early, have a little patience while he gets the curry going according to Indian timing (you know what I mean) -enjoy a chai while you wait and observe the care that is put into the food.