Bikaner is a city in the northwest of the state of Rajasthan, India. It is located 330 kilometres (205 mi) northwest of the state capital, Jaipur. Bikaner city is the administrative headquarters of Bikaner District and Bikaner division. This city celebrates its foundation day on Akshaya Tritiya by flying kites and eating special Rajasthani food that includes Bajre Ka Khichda and Imli ka Paani(Tamarind Water) among other snacks. The celebration lasts for two days, known as Chhoti Akha Teej and Badi Akha Teej. People can be seen flying kites during these two days right from the early morning at 5-6am till late sunset. Given the extreme desert weather, standing for long hours under the bright Sun is a torture in itself. Hence, a quick home-made drink like Tamarind Water really helps in controlling body temperature and prevents from heat stroke.
Rao Bika established the city of Bikaner in 1488. He was the first son of Maharaja Rao Jodha of the Rathore clan, the founder of Jodhpur and conquered the largely arid country in the north of Rajasthan. As the first son of Jodha he wanted to have his own kingdom, not inheriting Jodhpur from his father or the title of Maharaja. He therefore decided to build his own kingdom in what is now the state of Bikaner in the area of Jangladesh. Though it was in the Thar Desert, Bikaner was considered an oasis on the trade route between Central Asia and the Gujarat coast as it had adequate spring water. Bika’s name was attached to the city he built and to the state of Bikaner (“the settlement of Bika”) that he established. Bika built a fort in 1478, which is now in ruins, and a hundred years later a new fort was built about 1.5 km from the city centre, known as the Junagarh Fort. Bikaner is situated in the middle of the Thar Desert and has a hot semi-arid climate with very little rainfall and extreme temperatures. In summer temperatures can exceed 45 °C, and during the winter they may dip below freezing.
Famous foods of Bikaner
I’ve been meaning to write about the food that Bikaner has to offer but never got to it. And after my three visits to Bikaner I can say one thing there is no love sincerer than the love of food.’ For, it is food that can keep itself alive in memory with the taste and flavour and makes you visit those memories again and again. As per my observation and the food I tasted so I want you to visit Bikaner’s most loved street eateries and its unique authentic cuisine and once you have indulged in the richness of spices, ghee and sweets in Bikaner, you would keep going back to those moments and places and the cuisine of Bikaner is famous for wholesome dishes like Khasta, Gatte Ki Sabji, Mangodi and others.
Since Bikaner is a dry place, you can find many dry foods here. Butter milk is the common beverage of the locals. Butter is used generously in almost all dishes here. Dried lentils and corn are the common ingredients. Rajasthani spices are used lot in the dishes. Since spices are grown in Bikaner, you can always expect a rich spicy food. If you do not want your food to be too spicy, mention during ordering. Bikaner cuisine is mildly hot when compared to many other cuisines of India. Due to dryness, vegetables are not common here. Thus, most of the Bikaner dishes use dried versions of vegetables or meat. Bikaner is also known as “Chhoti Kashi”, so we have plenty of temples where apart from prashad vendors, all mouth watering snacks are also sold. Bikaneri devotees are fond of chapatte snacks but they would not eat anything unless they offer prayer first. So vendors come out for their rescue and provide chatpatte snacks right at the door step of God.
Roadside food of Bikaner
Bikaner, the city obsessed with food! Where half of the population is busy in making food and other half is in eating. Where food is like religious ritual. In Bikaner the roadside food has made its presence overriding the Bhujia cyclone. From Masala Chai to Panipuri, from Samosa to Chow Mein, the street food of Bikaner has a wide variety, which has its own flavour. In Bikaner people love eating! Such is the love for roadside food that you will not be able to find a single street in Bikaner without a dynamic roadside seller or hawker, where all the dishes are served with love and affection. Kachauri-Samosa is the most popular street food of Bikaner. The Bikaneri kachauri-samosa served with chutney is famous worldwide, which is available in almost every street in the morning hours. The morning of Bikaneri people starts with tea and namkins and Chai Patti is famous place for morning eating ventures.
Cruising through labyrinth streets of old city, people flock the area early morning and Chai Patti shopkeepers are all ready to tingle their sensory taste buds. The hot steaming tea is sipped with various namkin snacks by the people sitting in yogic posture and the intense discussions go on all the social and political issues.
Matka Kulfi, Faluda and Gola are popular desserts, no matter what is the season and Daulat Chhatte wala, near Fort School, is famous for Faluda and Gola. Shikanji (Neembu Pani) and Thandai is used by the citizens to keep them cool in the sizzling summer of Bikaner. Vendors offering chilled soft drinks through nondescript kiosks can be seen in Public Park area near Toy Train and just inside Public Park Gate. Many vendors also offer chilled fruit juices, both canned and freshly prepared ones, found mainly on KEM Road.
People of all ages can be seen thronging Halwai shops mouthing delicious Jalebies with hot steaming milk on Dau Ji Road. Craving for smoke flavoured Rabdi is very strong in Bikaneries and Mohta Chowk is a right place for Rabdi hunting. You can never miss the hustle bustle of the city at this corner while your Rabdi is being prepared with dollops of cream and dry fruits.
Paan, is eaten, as a mouth freshener, post meals in India is also sold at Bikaner’s roadside stalls. Bikaneri people are fond of eating Paan, evidences of which is presented on every wall & corners in offices of the city. Leader is the famous Moolsa-Phoolsa Paanwal’s paan which melt in your mouth. So finally, I’ve come up with a concise list of ‘must eat’ in Bikaner and the street food is as exotic as the city itself and the eateries that give away the underlying culture of the city in each bite. One of the things that make Bikaner’s street food unique is the way it is influenced by subtle cultural nuances, shaping it, over years to take the form we see. Every item, sometimes every eatery, has its own story of origin and influences. All of these cultural sub-currents come together to enhance the dish and often, its maker. So, here’s a list of must-visit food suggestions:
Chhotu motu joshi
A must visit place if you are fond of sweets. This place serves fresh and high quality delicious desserts. This place is mostly found crowded (and why not) but it has a good ambiance. It serves some of the very famous dishes like the traditional hot dal kachori, puri bhaji with curd, Namkeens, Rasmalai, Bhujia and other milk based sweets. Lassi (sweetened curd drink) is very famous here. The place is just amazing and worthy paying a visit and this shop has been recognized by several TV channels and magazines as one of the good spot to enjoy the cuisine of the state and If you are planning to pack some as souvenirs for your family, ask the server about their shelf life. Milk sweets have very low shelf life if not stored in refrigerator
Address: Station Rd, Kote Gate, Bikaner, Rajasthan 334001 | Phone: 0151 222 3827
The name ”Chhappan Bhog” is an old mythological Hindu name. It is derived from age old ”Mahabharat times, .One of the oldest places to have chaats and snacks,Chappan Bhog has still maintained its fine quality and taste If you thought that the fight over rasgulla was between Bengal and Orissa, it is time to make it three-pronged one. Enter the lesser-known counterpart – Bikaneri rasgulla. The soft and spongy melt-in-your-mouth delicacy here is so flavoursome and fresh that for a moment you might forget all about your diets and waistline. One of the oldest places in Rani Bazaar area of old Bikaner, Chappan Bhog is your go-to place for all things sweet and savoury. Be it chaats, Bikaneri sweets or snacks, this place spoils you for choice. Do not miss their special raaj kachori and get the rasgullas packed to take back for opinions; if you could stand the temptation of travelling without popping a couple or more into your own mouth.
Address: Station Rd, Bikaner, Rajasthan 334001 | Phone: 0151 220 2717
This restaurant is famous for authentic Bikaner dishes and traditional Bikaner thali. Thali is a specialty Indian style of serving in which a large plate containing small amount of numerous side dishes and main dishes are served in unlimited quantity. If you want to enjoy all dishes of the traditional cuisine, thali is the best one to choose.
Address: Near Railway Station, Rani Bazar, Station Road, Bikaner, Rajasthan 334001 | Phone: 098286 55576
Situated right in front of the Junagarh fort, Gallops is your typical Rajasthani-styled place with a relaxed ambience and luxurious old-world seating, with the view of the fort as bonus. This place is famous for its espresso, chicken tikka and outdoor seating where you can enjoy the weather, view and chat about everything important or otherwise. In case you want to give your taste buds a break from the spicy local cuisine, Gallops’ pizzas, wraps, sandwiches and Chinese preparations would come in quite handy with a pint of chilled lager.
Address: Opposite Junagarh Fort, Bikaner, Rajasthan 334001 | Phone: 087692 45945
“B.K. School Ki Kachori”
The B.K. School Kachauri-Samosa is treated like an international brand in the city, which are sold in front of the school. Even people travels 4-5kms to taste its authentic flavour. I wonder how many times the students get distracted from the smell of it, while sitting in the class.
Sankhla’s Kesar Kulfi has numerous outlets around Bikaner and serves up an array of refreshingly cool kulfis along with other treats. They have been in the business since 1970 and their kesar kulfi is absolutely delicious. It is creamy and soft and is loaded with fruits and nuts.This Kesar Kulfi of Sankhla prepared using condensed sweeten milk added with banana pulp and garnished with saffron, pistachio and cashew is an indigenous dense ice cream and tastes pleasantly sweet.
Address: Station Rd, Kote Gate, Bikaner | Phone: 082792 10642
People of Bikaner who have skilled the big appetite, contentment is the key for them; they can compromise in anything but never in taste. It is not possible to sell food in Bikaner unless it is very-very tasty. The addiction in the taste buds of bikaneries for namkins and other delicacies is so strong that it is a very strong motivating factor for the visits of those settled outside of Bikaner.