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Discovering Sarafa Bazaar: A Gastronomic affair with Indore’s Magical Night Eat Streets!Rawish Khan

Image credit : Better India

About Indore: Located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India; Indore is the most populous and important city of the state both in the terms of Demography and Economics. Listed in the “100 smart cities” of India, Indore is developing at a rapid pace and is considered an important city of the entire zone. It is a happy and a lively city with Indorians proud of their food and a few “must visits” of the city.

Distance from major metro cities: Indore to Mumbai Distance: 580 Kms by road (10 hours approximately) Indore to New Delhi distance: 890 Kms by road (14.5 hours approximately) Indore to Chennai Distance: 1490 Kms by road (26 hours approximately) Indore to Kolkata Distance: 1570 Kms by road (29 hours approximately) Places to Stay at Indore:

Luxury Hotels- 1. Radisson Blu Hotel Indore
2. Sayaji Indore
3. Effotel Hotel
4. Fortune Landmark Indore
5. Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Indore
Budget Hotels-

1. Treebo daksh residency
2. Ginger Indore
3. Lemon Tree Hotel
4. Golden Gate Hotel
5. Hotel Winway
Best time to visit Indore-

• Winters- October to March are pleasant months to visit Indore
Sarafa Bazaar – An introduction:

As the name suggests, Sarafa Bazaar is a famous Bazaar or Market in Indore. It is a jewelry market traditionally famous for real Gold and diamond jewelry. So what’s special about this place? Well, It’s only when the market closes down that the real and irresistible celebration begins. It’s like the Sun sets and the Eat Street rises. The look of the entire market changes and becomes a “khau gali”. It begins an amazing food market at night and is very famous not only in among the Indorians, but holds a special place for the foodies across the globe.


1. Sarafa Bazaar Location and Access?


- Sarafa Bazaar is located in the Central part of Indore city. It’s a long stretch like any market which basically starts from “Rajwada”, at Maharaja Tukoji Rao cloth market, a famous landmark in the city.

- Since it is in the centre of the city, reaching here isn’t a problem. Indore is a well connected city with means like Busses, Mini Vans, Tempos, Cabs, Auto Rikshaw etc which will easily drop one to Sarafa Bazar.

- Only two wheelers are allowed inside the bazaar lanes but it is feasible and better to explore the area on foot.

Nearest Airport

- Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Airport (Gwalior Airport)- 5 KM

Nearest Railway Station

- Gwalior Railway Station- 4 KM

Nearest Bus Stand

- Gwalior Bus stand- 4 KM

Entry Charges

: Free

2. When is it Suitable to visit?

- 8 PM -1 AM (For the real night food market)

- 11 AM- 8 PM (For jewelry market)

3. Why to Visit?

- To kindle and satisfy all the gastronomic buds.. This is one of the most well known and celebrated “khau gali” not only in Indore but in the entire country! It is a foodie’s paradise and even a great place for food and street photographers. The ambiance and cheerful festive like environment of the night market is so electrifying that it is worth the visit even if you aren’t much of a foodie.

4. History and Background:

- The Sarafa bazaar originated as the main jewelry market in Indore city. Located close to Rajwada, it was the main market area for trading jewelry, artifacts and ornaments. Due to its location and the hustle bustle, a few street food vendors started putting up stalls at night and their success brought in more players thus giving birth t the night food street. Some people also say that it started around 100 years ago and was encouraged by jewelry shop owners so that the noise and crowd at night would keep their shops safe at night. With this motive, they started giving out space to these vendors which is now one of the most happening places of Indore.

5. What is it famous for?

By now it’s obvious that Sarafa Bazaar, despite of being a jewelry market basically, is more famous for the sumptuous food market it becomes at night. Here’s a list of a few “must haves” when at Sarafa Bazar:
- Bhutte Ki Kees- One of the specialties of this region, Bhutte ki Kees is basically made out of boiled corn shredded and cooked with coconut, milk and a few mild spices. Served with grated coconut and coriander. It’s melt-in-mouth endeavor is a must experience!
- Poha Jalebi- This is the favorite breakfast combo of the city. Enjoy the spice and savory Poha with sweetness of a Jalebi.
- Sabudaana Khichdi- Amazing and Yummy Sabudaana Khichdi which is more of a “fasting” food has been made into a delicious street food by the vendors here. There’s a total twist of taste in this one. - Malpua- Leave your calorie meter at home when you visit here. Amazing pancakes fried in Ghee and then dunked in sugar syrup are served hot with Rabdi. Pure Foodgasm! It’s a heavenly treat for a person with sweet tooth.
- Khopra Patties: Hot from the Kadhai, try these potato balls stuffed with coconut fried right in front of the customer and served hot with tamarind Chutney.
- Jaleba: The elder brother of Jalebis, this is sweet and larger in size. Tastes delicious when served hot.
- Ratalu: It’s a really spicy snack and can heat the eater up in a single bite. Made with Purple Yam cut into small cubes and deep fried, this is smothered with red chili powder and other spices and is a winter specialty.
- Paani Poori- It has a number of names but loved throughout the country. Call it Puchka, Gupchup, Gol gappe or paani poori, Sarafa Bazaar brings you over 10 flavors of these to fulfill all your chaat cravings.
- Kanji Vada: Made of fermented mustard and spices, Kanji is a digestive cousin of dahi Vada. Sumptuous Vadas are soaked in Kanji and are a delight to have.
- Shikanji- For an accompaniment with all the delicious food, one should ditch the conventional cold drink and go for a refreshing Indori Shikanji.
6. Places Near Sarafa Bazaar: When you come to visit Sarafa Bazaar, you can also visit a few other places around. Since the food street opens mainly around 8 PM, here’s a list of nearby places you can check in or visit during the day or in the evening-

- Rajwada- 0.3 km from Sarafa Bazaar- A beautiful old palace showing the history of Indore. They have book and cloth stores where one can shop for at very cheap prices.

- Gopal Mandir- 0.2 km from Sarafa Bazaar- Beautiful temple of Lord Krishna located near Rajwada is a must visit when in this area.

- Bada Ganpati- 2 Kms from Sarafa Bazaar- A temple with around 30 feet large ganpati Idol tucked in the busy streets.

- Kaanch Mandir- 2.5 kms from Sarafa Bazaar- A Jain temple made with beautiful glass pieces and work in the floor, ceiling and walls.

- Gomatgiri- 10 Kms from Sarafa Bazaar- A cluster of beautiful Jain temples located on a hill top is a beautiful and must visit place in Indore.

My Trip to Indore and Sarafa Bazaar-

I had recently visited Indore for some work and I managed to get myself half a day off. Had heard and read a lot of good reviews on the Sarafa Bazaar which left me keen on visiting it. After spending my evening checking out nearby landmarks, I reached Sarafa Bazaar around 8:30 in the evening and to my delight it was a treat to the eye to see so many food stalls and happy people together.

As I walked more from the Rajwada area into the market, the food vendors kept on increasing and so did the smile on my face. As you cross a number of stalls, the seductive smell of yummy food preparations invite you to just grab them and end your hunger. I somehow wanted to explore the entire area and check out everything they had to offer before I would make my decision of what to eat. I came to know that Sarafa Bazaar is further divided into two parts, Chhota Sarafa and Bada Sarafa (meaning small and big).

My gastronomic journey started from “joshi ke Dahi vade” where Mr. Joshi was showing his balancing and juggling skills with the Dahi Vada. He called for the attention of all eaters and threw the vada in the air which landed safe in the bowl of yummy curd. Sprinkled some masala over it and served. I clapped for him on his show and congratulated for the brilliant work. It has been one of the yummiest and softest Vadas I have ever had and I would recommend everyone to visit this stall at least for the sake of liveliness of Mr. Joshi. In my stay of a few days at Indore, I had understood that Indore belongs to the “happy go lucky” people and is a super lively city which loves its food. And Sarafa Bazar is the hub of this food loving city.

Myself being a foodie was on my toes and super excited to try almost everything available. I was glad I did not get a vehicle as these streets are too narrow and best explored on foot. On both the sides of these narrow lanes are numerous well lit stalls and joints serving all varieties of local as well as international food.

Image credit : Shefali Pandey

My next stop was a Paani Puri guy who is pretty famous for he keeps 10 flavors of Paani puri. Amazing crispy paani puris with a hint of tanginess and different flavors aced as awakening my taste buds which left me asking for more. The man who served Paani puris suggested me to try Ratalu which is a local specialty available only in winters. It is fried yam smothered in red chilly powder. I ate a bite and oh boy! I almost burnt my tongue because of the spice which led me to the amazing Jalebas. I called it a Jalebi and the little chef who was dumping them in sugar syrup laughed at me, corrected me and explained why it’s a jaleba. A very unique and different thing I noticed was that a common food which is consumed in India while fasting, Sabudana khichdi was being served here. On asking the owner Om Praskash about the recipe he revealed that it’s the same which his father used since the year 1983. They also have a special “no salt” khichdi for someone who is actually fasting! I was amazed to find this.

Another specialty of this place is Dal Bafla, which is like Dal baati of Rajasthan. Served with Dal and chutney, this is a must have at Rajhans. Apart from the signature stores, stalls and dishes, there’s almost everything a street food can offer you available here. Starting from basics like sandwiches to Paav bhaji and Samosas to Kulfi. You get all of it within these narrow lanes of Indore.

Shrikhand and Alphonso mango ice cream served together as a sumptuous delight at Agarwal’s ice cream shop is a perfect way to wind up the crazy eating spree at Sarafa Bazaar. But ending on a dessert that’s it? Well you can’t miss out the Peetha paan when you are at Sarafa. You can have a delicious one at Anna ki Paan dukaan and have a filmy conversation with the “oh so sweet” paan store owner.

Sarafa Bazaar is more than just a food street. It’s a celebration of life. You will come across so many happy faces sharing small conversations over a dahi vada at Joshi’s stall or share food love while in the queue for Paani puris. The beautiful well lit streets madly packed with food lovers are also brilliant for human and lifestyle photo enthusiasts.

So, If you are a foodie: Visit Sarafa Bazaar for the joy of eating and if you aren’t, still visit Sarafa Bazaar to discover this love of food and how good food brings humans closer and makes world a happy celebration!