Bhandardara is ever growing in popularity as a quick getaway from Mumbai. The very first time me and my friends landed up here in 2010, almost by accident and after having lost ourselves while driving in the dark highways in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. It was perfect though, idyllic, long winding roads, green, great weather and one of those unexplored getaways. Today more than a few I know has been there and you can see a lot more talk about it.
There are a few food options around the main street in Bhandardara, but none a good as eating in food cooked and served in a local villager’s house.
Driving about 20 kms from Shendi, is an 8th century temple. A temple dedicated to Amriteshwar, in 2010 it was near undiscovered and used to host a crowd only once a year for the annual festival or jatra. It gave a feeling of barely having changed from when it was built, school children swimming in the temple pond in the afternoon after school, we too spent the afternoon just lazying.
Today, sadly, the temple has caught the attention of capitalists who have sensed the profitability options and now the ancient architecture is hidden behind asbestos sheets, a new gateway facade, cemented pathways and a concrete parking lot. This too will soon be about the money and the many stalls that will be selling cheap plastic goods is not very far away.
This post is still about food and eating though. Wait around the temple long enough and you will be approached by a small boy or his brother asking whether you want lunch. It would be foolish to refuse this opportunity. If no one does approach you, walk from the main street to what appears to be behind the temple and the first house in the next stretch of houses is the door to knock. You should be welcomed.
I noticed that prosperity has come to the house that hosted us last time, that was 2010 and this 2014. We sat on the cow dung matted floor then, now in plastic chairs. The experience of the food was about the smells that accompanied it and any one who has memories of village life in India would probably agree. While some of the experience was no longer available, the food had not changed much in taste. This time though we paid twice for one dish of what we paid for everything we ate then.
Home cooked Bhakris on a wooden chulla, with a potato bhaji, fresh dal, aachar and a spicy chilly techa; extremely tasty, delicious and satisfying to the core. A group of doctors partying on their day off ordered special cooked chicken which they were raving of, and their appreciation I accepted at face value even if the amount of liquor within their stomachs would probably have killed all their taste buds. One thing you can be sure of, the chicken would have been hot, as hell, and more. I know more than a few English friends who love their hot curries after a night of binge drinking, they would have enjoyed it. To my now milder and vegetarian palate, I made do with the simpler fare. To explain how much we enjoyed the food, you will notice that I forgot to take a photograph before we started eating and only remembered when we were half way through.
Visit, eat and relish before this experience is lost.