Monday, October 18, 2010

Midnight Madness- Manek Chowk!

The best Pav Bhaji I have ever eaten. And what an adventure getting to it. I took the heritage walk in the city with my friend Jiten. He had some guests from Denmark and wanted them to see the Old City of Ahmedabad at night. I had heard of these lovely Heritage walks conducted by the Mangaldas family and decided to attend. The walk starts at the Patel ni Pol at the Mangaldas Pol. Wooh! What a house! Completely blew my mind- the gorgeous wood work and the spaces. Oh what would I give to live in that house in the old city of Ahmedabad. We walked through the narrow lanes of the old City looking at some gorgeous old Pol houses that belonged to the likes of Hatheesingh and such. Into the little squares where people were starting to prep for Garba, on the mainroads back into the narrow lanes,  past the red haired old lady with two parrots, through the city gates, near the king's tomb, past the sleeping people, near the cattle shed, under the Fernandes bridge where second hand books are sold and suddenly a couple more turns in the narrow lanes and we arrive in the middle of Manek Chowk.
The gorgeous veranda of the Mangaldas Pol house
Julia, Jiten, Johannes, and Trina
Strange red haired old woman with 2 parrots
The narrow streets at night
The opening onto Manek Chowk
Foodies Rejoice!

Manek Chowk!
This square in the busy heart of Ahmedabad is full of jewelery shops on the second floor. Once the jewelery shops close by 8pm, the food shops on the ground level open up. They set up their chairs and tables in the main square. Soon by 9:30- 10 pm the whole space is bustling with folks with their families enjoying some of the best street food ever. The variety ranges from Ragda Patties, Pani Puri, Pav Bahji, Pulao, Pizza, Dosa, Chinese. A food court of sorts but one that has existed for several decades. The space is alive till the wee hours of the morning especially during the Navratri (Nine Nights) catering to the crowd that comes hungry and tired after dancing.
There are also some fun stall such as a Soda Pop where they sell Whisky flavoured soda and a cold Cocoa stand at the New Janta that Jiten reminded me was institutional to Ahmedabad. But my heart was with the Pav Bhaji- my favourite snack ever. The Bhaji was spicy, tangy with potatoes and peas and loaded with butter. The Pav were not as fresh but the butter compensated for it all.  It was amazing to watch the bhajji wala pound away at huge amounts of potatoes on the tawa. He was fast - I tried capturing his movements on my camera. But what Pav- Bhaji- My mouth is still watering. Too much- too much!

The Food Court
Utterly Butterly dosas
Trying out the Cold Cocoa at New Janta
The reason its so thick is because of custard powder
Soda Shop
Pineapple, mausambi, lychee, lemon, strawberry, mint, mocktail, kala-khatta, fruitbeer, kachi kairi, masala, orange and whiskey flavor.
You bet we tried the whiskey flavor. It was strange.
More Navratri Belles
The making of the pav bhaji-
Butter Pav
Lucky Jiten with two lovely ladies on either side
Lucky me with two handsome men on either side!

On the walk, the most stunning thing that I discovered about the old city was the drummers who played their drums every night informing/ warning its citizens that the city gates are closing and those who need to leave must leave and those who need to enter must enter.The drums were played between 11pm and 11:35pm every night. 600 years ago the drummers were stationed at all 14 gates. Today there is one family that still carries on the tradition of playing these drums though the gates do not close. Part of the tour brought us to this lovely room where the drummer and his son played the drums. Here is a 30 second recording of the drums. (Sorry for the sound quality- the space echoed a lot)


  1. love, love, love the made me relive ahmedabad times, after all these years!

  2. oh how beautiful! love this post! and all the pictures have so much personality! love the navratri belles! so cute!

  3. And the Danish family! What troopers! especially the kids! awesome!

  4. You're killing me with the pav bhaji pictures!
    I've never been to Gujarat and didn't know it was so vibrant and gorgeous.

  5. Hey, you look awesome in that one pic. Those junta cold cocoa drinks are nostalgic. They were 10 bucks without icecream and 13 bucks with icecream. Felt so expensive in first year. I remember we used to share them because of that. Will wabi sabi soon.

  6. Simply love the idea of heritage walks ... a fabulous pol house and the pav bhaji looks too have captured the moments perfectly and shown us a glimpse of allahabad beautifull night life ... there is so much in peoples faces ... love the three girls with their ghagra smiling right from their heart .... if i visit allahabad i am surely going to take this heritage walk...


  7. what an awesome tour! gorgeous photographs. wish i was there to share these foods with you!

  8. Quaint - bordering on nostalgia ... love it !!

  9. Love the heritage walk. lovely pictures to remember the walk and Ahmedabad.

  10. the pictures certainly come alive...! total nostalgia happening at this end ! ....

  11. Nice pics. But I must say you captured Manekchowk differently from what I have in my memories. I've seen it much busier and much brighter :). Nostalgic none-the-less!!!

  12. Hey all: It was certainly magical and nostalgic to walk down those narrow lanes of the Old city and enjoy the hustle and bustle of manek chowk.
    @Kaushal- u know part of it is how i work with the lighting and maybe it was not peak time yet because i was there at midnight on a navratri night. When i was leaving more and more people were coming. But it was still a very vibrant experience.

  13. I want to visit this place! Seems to be nice, colourful and bustling with activity!

  14. I saw pictures of Ahmadabad for the first time its nice to see Navratri night and people enjoying the street food!

  15. These are great picks and I visite this place twice in a week. Thats really a heven for food junkies. What u had in manikchok ul never get enywhere in the whole world.

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