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This post is part of a series called Rajasthan - Kutch Nov 2018
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We spent the next few days in Bhuj checking out the few sites they have, shopping (Dilshad), and experiencing the great street food, enjoying the people interactions and language. So while we were at the Hill View Resort hotel, we took the auto-rickshaws everywhere, as they were readily available and cheap. The rickshaws stopped at a street corner about a quarter mile from our hotel, so we always walked there and back. The images below are of the street foods and the people going about their daily work. Kutch is famous for street foods, but one always has to be careful not to get the Delhi-belly; so we only ate where Dilshad approved; which meant the place was reasonably clean, staff appeared clean/hygienic, and the place had a decent amount of traffic, so food was not stale. In general, we found that most street food places practiced good hygiene, and there were surprisingly few flies. And best part was that we did not get sick 🙂

One street food that was everywhere was the Da Be Li; which was a white bread bun, sliced in half, and fired lightly in butter. Then, spicy stuffing was added to one bun slice, together with garnishes like onions, chutney, tomato’s, sev etc (different people had different recipes). Then the whole thing was squished lightly and warmed on the pan; see below. The squishing process gave it the name it has. And this meal was delicious; and it only cost 20 cents or so; and 2-3 of these would fill us up nicely. We only had 1 at a time so we could check out the other street food carts. We went to the recommended street carts. Everything was vegetarian which suited us just fine.

More Bhuj Da Be Li food stand
Dabeli food stand

Another street cart we went for was for bateta-vada or deep fried potato stuffing balls.

More Bhuj Bateta-vada stall; the bull strolled by and helped himself to food they leave out for the cows.
Bateta-vada stall; the bull strolled by and helped himself to food they leave out for the cows.

We asked for fresh ones to be made for us, and the young owners happily obliged.

More Bhuj Fresh Bateta-vada
Fresh Bateta-vada

The bateta-vada’s were delicious, and after having a few with the chutney, the owner refused to take any money from us; saying that he was just satisfied that we had come specially to eat at his stall, and that was reward enough for him. What amazing hospitality; especially as this cart was his only income and I am sure he did not make a ton of money daily. Such nice gestures renews one’s faith in humanity and goodness of life.

This family below had a stall near our hotel, and made empanada-type stuffed, deep fried pies; see below. All fresh and delicious. And cheap. The whole family gathered there in the evenings and helped out.

More Bhuj Family stall
Family stall

We chatted with these ladies below who were having an evening snack at a street cart. The snack was a cone (as in ice cream cone) stuffed with a savory filling, and choice of topping (cilantro, onions, tomatoes, sev, green chili, etc). We found this snack strange, and they found it strange that we found the snack to be strange 🙂 .

More Bhuj Good
Yummy snacks

We had breakfast (included) at the Hillview hotel once; but realized that there was better choices at the rickshaw stand near the hotel’ so, we had breakfast at the carts by the rickshaw stand; this guy used to bring fresh home-made jalebi’s early in the morning, and they were still warm when we got there at about 9AM.

More Bhuj Jalebi’s, samosa’s etc for breakfast. And no flies.
Jalebi’s, samosa’s etc for breakfast. And no flies.

Joshi (below left) was famous for his dahi-wada, a snack made with yogurt. And it was definitely delicious

More Bhuj Dahi-wada snack
Dahi-wada snack

This street below was full with street stalls and small eateries, and was filled with locals stopping by to eat and socialize here in the evenings. And no, this was not a weekend day.

More Bhuj Street Food street :)
Street Food street 🙂

On this street, there was one particular shop that was bombarded with people waiting to pick up murcha-vada, which is basically a small (medium spicy) pepper, stuffed with a savory filling, then doused in a flour paste and deep fired. Again, this was very tasty 🙂 ; and very cheap 🙂 🙂 .

We asked a young couple for direction to the lake area, and they not only gave us directions, but took us into their wholesale shop where we were standing; and gave us mawa (dried evaporated milk solids) to try out; their business was making all different kind of milk products like mawa (also known as khoya), barfi, paneer etc, from fresh milk. Another totally unexpected nice gesture from total strangers.

Below was an area near the reservoir/lake in the old city, where families and people came out to enjoy the evening and socialize. Unfortunately, since it has not rained in Bhuj for several years now, the reservoir was almost completely dry 🙁

More Bhuj Chilling area in front of the reservoir
Chilling area in front of the reservoir

This man below had a street cart in the gully across from the ghee-wala’s shop (directions given to us). He was quite friendly and got talking to us. Told us that this same cart had been in his family for several generations; always in the same spot. They had become famous for making dar-ja-bhajia and other snacks. We came here just before 5PM, when he opened shop, as we were told there would be a lot of waiting time, as he always had lineup of customers. Sure enough, soon after we arrive and placed our order, he had a big line up and people had to take numbers 🙂

The dar-ja-bhajia’s were indeed delicious and worth waiting for.

One evening, we went to an restaurant that had a large open-air garden where tables were placed for eating, and after a short while, we got seated. We ordered their specialty, which turned out to be Kutchi Pizza; check out the picture below

More Bhuj Kutchi pizza, made with all these garnishes on papad’s; served with limes and other condiments. So no bread
Kutchi pizza, made with all these garnishes on papad’s; served with limes and other condiments. So no bread
More Bhuj Snack shops were quite popular also
Snack shops were quite popular also

Now that my mouth is watering again; I have to say that street food we found and ate in Bhuj was of high quality, tasty, and did not make us sick. The street vendors were quite innovative in differentiating themselves; we did try everything. And it was very cheap; we could both eat a snack lunch or snack dinner for about $1. Amazing. Most of the snacks were fried.

Some street scenes below in the old city; where shopping was concentrated. We did notice a lot of tribal people intermixed with city locals, all shopping away.

More Bhuj Covered to prevent tanning
Covered to prevent tanning
More Bhuj Ahir tribal women
Ahir tribal women
More Bhuj Small stand
Small stand
More Bhuj Rabari tribal couple
Rabari tribal couple
More Bhuj Lots of shopping
Lots of shopping, bandhni clothing was everywhere
More Bhuj Spices anyone?
Spices anyone?
More Bhuj Typical street scene in the old city
Typical street scene in the old city
More Bhuj Baby and mother; note the henna on the mothers hand
Baby and mother; note the henna on the mothers hand
More Bhuj Colorful clothing all around
Colorful clothing all around
More Bhuj More Colors
More Colors
More Bhuj Everything for sale, including the sticks (foreground) that are used as toothbrushes
Everything for sale, including the sticks (foreground) that are used as toothbrushes
More Bhuj Happy vegetable seller outside the vegetable market in the heart of the old city
Happy vegetable seller outside the vegetable market in the heart of the old city
More Bhuj More tribal women
More tribal women
More Bhuj People were happy to engage with us in kutchi everywhere we went
People were happy to engage with us in kutchi everywhere we went
More Bhuj Another typical street scene
Another typical street scene

Some thoughts about Bhuj and Kutch; we felt like we had arrive “home”; because of the same language and culture. As Zahir Dharsee commented in the previous blog; it is thanks to our forefathers for preserving our language and culture and instilling this in us over 2 generations in Africa; that made us feel at home in Kutch, inspite of the 100+ yrs gap. Our forefathers had migrated from this area over 130-150 yrs ago to Africa, and the language in Kutch district had multiple influences added to it since, from Sindhi, Urdu, Gujarati, Hindi, English etc; while in Africa, it had African Swahili/Bantu, Arabic and English influences added to it. But we could still understand 70% of what the local spoke. It felt good.

And the locals thought our kutchi language was “sweet”; because they thought it was the “frozen” kutchi that was spoken over 130 yrs ago; we did not tell them that our kutchi was not “pure”, and had also been influenced by Swahili/arabic/english ; why burst their bubble 🙂 .

The food was another very enjoyable experience for us.

There were a few sites to visit, like the Aina Mahal complex, but only the Pragmahal Palace was open to visit, and was decent; all other buildings were mostly damaged during the earthquake in 2001, and were closed. Same with the Bhujia fort complex, which was closed after sustaining damage during the earthquake, and renovations were not yet completed, 18 years on…

Best part was that Bhuj is off the tourist map; only the Raan of Kutch was attractive and visited by mostly local Indian tourists only. That meant that it was relatively un-touristy; and so prices were reasonable everywhere, and people were genuine; and very few tourist trinkets being pushed/sold. We had a great time; definitely worth visiting; especially if you have a similar background.

Plan was to go visit Ahmedabad next, but that meant a whole days’s drive or a whole day flying/waiting, as there were no direct flights from Bhuj to Ahmedabad. Having been 3 weeks now traveling  in Rajasthan and Gujarat, we were reluctant to spend 1 more day traveling, so we we decide to skip Ahmedabad, and instead, we flew to Mumbai to visit my college buddy, Anil, and more shopping, before flying back to Dallas. All in all, a wonderful trip, a little off the beaten path.

This entry was posted in Asia, India, Rajasthan - Kutch Nov 2018

21 thoughts on “More Bhuj

  • Pingback: Bhuj, Kutch, Gujarat - Ali Karim Travelog Asia

  • Abdulmajid Morani Morani May 14, 2019 at 11:08 pm Reply

    I read ur travel account, I was imagining ” I am travelling as well ” Lucky U

    • Ali Karim May 15, 2019 at 8:12 am Reply

      HI Abdul; we enjoyed having you travel with us :).
      Yes, we are indeed blessed to be able to travel like this.

  • Ashraf Daredia May 15, 2019 at 7:56 am Reply

    Nice blog

    • Ali Karim May 15, 2019 at 8:00 am Reply

      Thanks Ashraf; glad you enjoyed this post

    • Phil May 17, 2019 at 7:45 am Reply

      👍

  • Mahamud Jinnah May 15, 2019 at 7:57 am Reply

    Hi Ali
    the food stalls made me hungry. When i read about the 2 people who just treated you to food, it was heart warming. It is great to see such kindness. They may be poor but, in reality, they are rich. People here may be rich, but are really “poor”.

    • Ali Karim May 15, 2019 at 8:01 am Reply

      How true; goodness and wealth can be very simple. Thanks for your feedback.

  • Muslim Harji May 15, 2019 at 7:57 am Reply

    Lovely blog & great Photography…Enjoyed it thoroughly…Now I am hungry….
    Love to Dilshad.

    Love, Light & Cheers

    • Ali Karim May 15, 2019 at 8:06 am Reply

      Thanks Muslim for the feedback

  • NoorJehan Tejani May 15, 2019 at 7:57 am Reply

    very colorful with excellent snacks !

  • Laila May 15, 2019 at 7:58 am Reply

    Thank you again Ali

    Fascinating read about Kutch especially and all other related blogs of areas you both visited. I enjoyed it !

    Keep well and happy
    Kind regards
    Laila

    • Ali Karim May 15, 2019 at 8:09 am Reply

      Hi Laila, thanks so much for the feedback; so glad you enjoyed the blog.

  • Nick paroo May 17, 2019 at 7:25 am Reply

    So well done👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

    • Ali Karim May 17, 2019 at 8:30 pm Reply

      Thanks Mr. Nick 🙂

  • Nellie Ahmed May 17, 2019 at 2:35 pm Reply

    I enjoyed your blog,I imagine my fore fathers walking the same street,
    Thanks so much,food stalls are mouth watering

    • Ali Karim May 17, 2019 at 8:31 pm Reply

      Nellie, thanks so much for the feedback; so happy you enjoyed them.

  • Mubina Esmail May 17, 2019 at 5:58 pm Reply

    Wow!!! Beautiful photos, and nice to see you mingling with the locals. I really enjoy going though your blogs. Please keep them coming.

    • Ali Karim May 17, 2019 at 8:33 pm Reply

      Hi Mubina, we love mingling with the locals ;). So glad you are enjoying the blogs. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • Zahir Dharsee May 19, 2019 at 2:14 pm Reply

    Hi Ali -for the benefit of your readers a little East African Kuchi/Swahili mixture
    – Kin ai Bana, mare saro ai – Hujambo – Hello Mister and I hope all is well with you.
    – Hi tho boaj saro likhelo chopri ai – unandika barua mzuri sana – this is a well written article.
    – Thojo sandesho vanchi ne panke maan thie ke pa Kuchi firan le vinje. – Sisi nataka kwenda Kuch!!. – After reading your article, we feel like going to visit Kutch.
    So much so for my written and translated Kutchi and Swahili.
    Again a very good article.
    Thanks
    Zahir

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