Dhabaas and nostalgia on Udaipur to Jodhpur route
Did you guess this?? Did you? Yes, I am talking about the dhabaas. Dhabaas are the small roadside restaurants which provide fresh, smoky, hot food to be eaten while sitting on the chaarpai or a wooden bench. The taste is far better than any other food I have had in a high class restaurant. My point of mentioning this is not any kind of criticism, it’s just that the dhabaa is more like my own kitchen away from home, even better
Travelling long distances by road has always interested me. Not just for the obvious reasons of looking out of the window and suddenly asking the person driving to stop or to have tea at free will or for an emergency nature call, but for something else, too.
Did you guess this?? Did you? Yes, I am talking about the dhabaas. Dhabaas are the small roadside restaurants which provide fresh, smoky, hot food to be eaten while sitting on the chaarpai or a wooden bench. The taste is far better than any other food I have had in a high class restaurant. My point of mentioning this is not any kind of criticism, it’s just that the dhabaa is more like my own kitchen away from home, even better.
Earlier while travelling from Udaipur to Jodhpur by road, we used to come across a number of dhabaas. Even now as I am writing this, the thought of stopping the car at a dhaaba is like nostalgia. Those days hygiene mattered but not the way it is now. Basically we have all been brought up in such a tough way that drinking water from just anywhere didn’t trouble us at all(touchwood). Stopping at a dhabaa and drinking water from the local pot or the ‘matka’ was always very satisfying. The aroma coming from the big ‘bhagonas’ of daal, sabji (mostly aloo and bhindi) still reminds me of the hunger pangs hitting my ‘breakfast-full’ stomach. Need I mention that breakfast used to be that of stuffed parathas and curd on a dhabaa? This was the fun of leaving home early morning and grabbing a khaat in a dhabaa by breakfast time.
On the road from Udaipur to Jodhpur, you could spot dhabaas after every kilometre. Now you cannot see one real dhabaa anymore. What you get now is a small hotel with surname(as I call it) dhabaa but no traditional dhabaas at all. I miss that traditional look with the local beds or khaats with a wooden plank in the centre. All you needed to do was fold your legs like in an asan and sit on the khaat, when a ‘Ramu’, ‘Bhilu’, ‘Keshu’ would serve you a ‘lota’ full of water and tell you the menu without asking. The menu used to be simple roti and he would only ask if you wanted ghee on it or not. Then he would tell you about the daal and sabji asking about the need of red chillie tadka. And seriously, you had the tadka as per your wish. Then would come the turn of onions where a peeled of or an unpeeled onion would be kept on the plank. You were asked whether you wanted it cut or just like that and when you mentioned ‘just like that’, he would break it open with his fist just like the one you see in Punjabi movies, the “mukki pyaaz” is what it is still called. Then the grand finale used to be that of lassi or chaach or buttermilk.
Even after a good lunch, you always had space for pakodas(water used to be so different in those days,you never felt too heavy or too full at all). By tea time another dhaaba would be there to welcome your senses and that craving for bhajiyas with tea was never thought of twice. “Eat what you want” used to be the slogan.
All gone missing, the traditional look, the touch and the taste. Modernisation has taken its toll on the local dhabaas, the only relief is that chai thadis are still available. But for people like me, the fun of travel is gone as I don’t enjoy eating Chinese food or local pizzas either while on a long drive. I can make these at home but my craving for a dhabaa food will never die.