Varanasi food is the food prepared by the people living in Varanasi city in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Located in the banks of River Ganges, this city is also known as Banaras or Kashi and is considered a holy city by the Hindus. Due to its religious orientation, Varanasi food is entirely vegetarian with importance given to flavor, although the food is not spicy.
Rice, wheat, lentils, pulses, millets, peas, vegetables, yellow chillies, and yoghurt are some of the common ingredients used in the Varanasi cuisine. Ghee is widely used to prepare most of the dishes. Turmeric, asafoetida, and chilli powder are used for flavoring.
Rice, roti, and puri are everyday Varanasi foods. Kachori with a sabzi is a usual breakfast had here. Choorha mattar is another breakfast dish made with flattened rice and green peas. A typical Banarasi thali or meal consists of rice, vegetable curries, dal, and sabji.
Snacks are an integral part of the Varanasi cuisine. Kachori, samosa, and pakora are some snacks that are popular here. Pakoras are made by dipping a vegetable into flour batter and deep frying it. Samosa is a fried snack with stuffed peas and potato. Other than these, chaat dishes are common here. A chaat is made by mixing various snacks together to create a unique dish. Aloo chat and pani puri are some famous chaat dishes.
Panna and lassi are the usual drinks of this region. The panna is made with raw mangoes, while lassi is made with yoghurt.
Traditional Varanasi Food
Kachori jalebi is a traditional breakfast of Varanasi. It consists of the sweet jalebi and spicy kachori. Banarasi dum aloo is a famous potato curry made here. Banarasi bharwan aloo is a dish where potatoes are stuffed with paneer, cashewnuts chillies, and cooked in thick gravy. Choka bati is another traditional dish where the flour-made bati has a stuffing. Mallaiyo is a milk-based traditional drink prepared in winter. An evening snack called Lavang lata is made with maida flour, sugar, ghee, and nuts.
Sweets such as barfi, laddoo, and peda are made during festivals. Apart from these, the Varanasi cuisine makes several milk-based dishes such as kheer, rabri, thandai, chamcham, and sandesh. Rabri and thandai are sweetened milk-based drinks, while cham cham is made of cheese.
Traditionally, food is served in a brass plate called thali, and the side dishes are served in small bowls called katori. Paan, rolled betel leaf, is eaten at the end of every meal.
The Varanasi food is satvik – pure vegetarian. Thus, ingredients such as onion and garlic are not used in cooking.
The Varanasi cuisine believes in fresh and simple food. The food is not very spicy and not heavy. Therefore, it is healthy and easily digestible. The asafoetida used in foods aids with digestion. Paan eaten at the end of the meal also supposedly helps with digestion. The milk and ghee based dishes in this cuisine, however, may not be heart healthy if consumed on a regular basis.