For the love of food
The harmonious amalgamation of the past and present, the forts, the hiking hills, the history, the University, and the culture – there are many things about Pune that make her locals very proud. But what tops the list is the delectable food that the city offers? Did you know that Pune is known much beyond its boundaries for some very specific dishes? If you’re a foodie, then Pune’s famous delicacies will surely set your taste buds racing. Here’s a list of 16 Puneri dishes that you won’t get elsewhere, and that you just can’t miss.
1. Strawberry milkshake at Fantasy
Although it goes by the common term ‘milkshake’, the strawberry milkshake at Fantasy is so much more! A thick drink with a heavy dose of fresh strawberry chunks, every Punekar can swear by the uniqueness and deliciousness of this speciality. A shop that started out as a road stall, Fantasy became extremely popular because of its special strawberry milkshake that could be savoured even in the really late hours of the night. While you may have to visit the juice bar a little earlier nowadays, since it’s part of a mall, you can still be assured of getting the taste you’ve always loved. And if you’ve never had the strawberry milkshake before, then you’re clearly missing out on a taste of heaven in a glass!
Location: Connaught Place, Bund Garden Road
2. Garden vada pav at J.J. Garden Vada Pav Centre
Perfectly flavoured, soft potato with the perfect amount of spiciness is ensconced in a crispy coating to make the Garden vada. This patty is then placed inside a fresh pav that has a touch of the chutney that is unique to the Garden Vada Pav Centre, and then served with salted chillies. You may get the Indian burger in many places, but the long line of people and vehicles (ranging from mopeds to the city’s most expensive sedans) will tell you that you can’t get a vada pav better than the one at the small handcart that is called the Garden Vada Pav Centre.
Location: Behind Dorabjee’s, Camp
3. Chicken biryani at Blue Nile
An Irani owned joint that was, once upon a time, little more than one room, Blue Nile has grown into a full-fledged restaurant, mainly thanks to the one dish that attracts people from all over the city – its Chicken Biryani. Sure, you can get Biryani at every restaurant that serves Indian food, but not like the one at Blue Nile. That is why, so many years later, the chicken biryani at Blue Nile continues to be a hot city favourite – and it’s never been better!
Location, Opposite Poona Club, Bund Garden Road
4. Chicken kathi kebab at Kapila
The star of another ‘rags to riches’ story, the Chicken kathi kebab at Kapila has wonderfully satisfied foodies for decades. Succulent chicken that is cooked to perfection in mildly spicy, thick gravy combined with pudina chutney that effortlessly enhances the filling, and rolled into a crispy yet soft roti wrap – each bite of this savoury treat is absolutely delicious. The fact that you can buy this delicacy at really late hours of the night ensures that the foodies of Pune always have something to which they look forward.
Location: Near Ruby Hall Clinic, Dhole Patil Road
5. Mango Mastani at Sujata Mastani
This Pune speciality will have you asking, “Is it a milkshake or is it an ice-cream?” The answer to that is, “It’s a combination of the two that is also the most delicious rendering imaginable of your favourite flavour.” The Mango Mastani at Pune-born Sujata Mastani can evoke quite a few heavenly emotions in the foodie. The outlet has many branches, but the oldest remains the best if you want to try this delicacy. However, this Pune original has one drawback – it’s seasonal to the summer months!
Location: Nimbalkar Talim Chowk, Sadashiv Peth
6. Shrewsbury biscuits at Kayani Bakery
It isn’t uncommon to find visitors to the city crowding around Kayani Bakery before they depart so that they can buy the incredibly famous Shrewsbury biscuits by the kilo to take back home. The Kayani Bakery, that has been around for decades, is the pioneer of the Shrewsbury biscuit; no matter where else you find biscuits bearing the same name, there is only one, unbeatable original. Buttery, crumbly, crispy yet soft, with a taste that you just can’t get from any other cookie, the Shrewsbury biscuit at Kayani is definitely worth fighting off the crowd that it attracts. Just remember to get to the bakery as early as possible, because they frequently run out of this delicacy by mid-day.
Location: East Street, Camp
7. Chicken mayo sandwich at Marz-o-rin
There are many reasons why the Chicken mayo sandwich at Marz-o-rin has made a special spot for itself in the hearts of foodies all across Pune. It is a quick snack, comes with a healthy whole-wheat option, is perfect for those odd timed hunger pangs, is quite inexpensive, and is also really delicious. Pair it with a juice or cold coffee, and you have the perfect meal, one that has been popular with everyone in Pune at some point in their lives!
Location: Next to Wonderland, M.G. Road, Camp
8. Chicken Burger at Burger (formerly Burger King)
In this world of fast food fanatics, the chicken burger at Burger is one-of-a-kind. Maybe that’s why it’s been popular since before the onset of the burger revolution. You can get the small size if you just want a light snack, but the large chicken burger is where the real fun is. This is a burger so large that you have to hold it in both hands to be able to pick it up, and that has a taste so unique and delicious that you’ll wish you had more room in your stomach for seconds! What really adds to the taste is that it isn’t one of those burgers where mayonnaise equates condiments; the special sauces and condiments are designed to go perfectly with the patty. The people up at Burger know what real burger lovers want, and they damned well know how to make sure that that’s exactly what they get!
Location: Next to ABC Farms, Koregaon Park; East Street, Camp
9. Chocolate toast at Flavours
The chocolate toast is another dish that became popular in a handcart on the streets of Koregaon Park. ‘Flavours’ has come a long way since then, but the authenticity and delectable taste of its chocolate toast has not changed with fame. The chocolate toast at Flavours was almost one of a kind when it first caught the people’s imagination, and has inspired many others to recreate the dish. But as many Pune locals will tell you, there is no other chocolate toast such as the one at Flavours, which is tasty enough to convert chocolate haters into chocolate addicts!
Location: Wanowrie; Fergusson College Road; Bibvewadi; Pimple Saudagar
10. Chicken Shawarma at Hite Bar
Juicy chicken cooked in Lebanese style and garnished with a house salad and a bunch of unique sauces is wrapped in a roll made from pita bread – the shawarma at Hite Bar is Lebanese in tradition and delicious in taste. The dish is known to be the best of its kind in the city, and attracts long queues of crowds without pause to every branch of the restaurant, right until closing hour. Quite filling, and not too expensive, it works as a great evening snack or even as a part of dinner. With its not-scanty-at-all filling, the shawarma at Hite Bar can be a bit messy to eat if it’s your first time, but that’s actually a good thing, since you get to lick the deliciousness off your fingers too!
Location: Convent Street, Camp; Ashwini Palace, Wanowrie; Shop 7, Royal Hindustan, Kondhwa
11. Red Velvet cake at Fat Cat’s Café
The best part about the Red Velvet cake at Fat Cat’s Café is its unique, homemade flavour. The cake is made by owner and chef Melanie, and you can taste the passion and love with which this delicacy is made. It isn’t really any wonder, then, that this particular Red Velvet cake has grown to be the most loved one in the city in little over a year since the café came up. If you’re a cake lover, then you should definitely try out the Red Velvet that has become the base for comparison for its competitors in Pune city.
Location: Clover Heights, Wanowrie
12. Pani puri at Om Jai Shankar Pani Puriwala
The pani puri at Om Jai Shankar Pani Puriwala can easily take your mind away from the fact that you’re in one of the most crowded, noisy, and bustling localities of Pune city. Available with the traditional potato filling or a ragda one, Jaishankar’s pani puri will have you coming back for seconds and thirds. Its mouth-watering taste attracts people from all over town and has now forced the establishment to open another outlet. And they are both equally good!
Location: Babajaan Chowk, Camp; Wanowrie
13. Mysore Cheese Masala Dosa at Vaishali
The Mysore cheese masala dosa is probably the highest selling item on the menu of the extremely popular food joint, Vaishali. There are numerous Udipi restaurants around Pune, many of which are quite popular. But nothing comes close to the monopoly that is Vaishali’s when it concerns the Mysore cheese masala dosa. Perfectly cooked, deliciously spiced, and quickly served, this is a must try for anyone who lives in or visits Pune.
Location: Ferguson College Road
14. Aloo paratha at Chaitanya
One of the earliest parathas to make a name for itself, the aloo paratha at Chaitanya continues to remain a favourite in spite of growing competition. From college-goers to working professionals and from couples to families, the aloo paratha is a classic that caters to everyone. Just make sure to get there before you get ravenous – you will probably have to wait a while to get a table, and the aromas won’t help your wait any!
Location: Ferguson College Road
15. Double egg cheese omelette and Bun Maska at Vohuman Café
There is just something about the double egg cheese omelette and bun maska combination at Vohuman Café that has people finding their way to a table even at six in the morning. Perfect after an all-night get together or before a long day of work or travel, the combination at Vohuman Café is one that is in high demand at all times. So best get there as early as you can, because reaching at a little past nine in the morning might be too late for you to get the combo that sells like hot cakes!
Location: Near Jehangir Hospital, Sassoon Road
16. Kheema at Café Goodluck
There are several reasons why you have to wait a while for a seat at Café Goodluck, regardless of the time, but their Kheema is probably the biggest of those reasons. Café Goodluck is a local favourite with almost every non-vegetarian in the Pune city – after all, you don’t get Kheema like the one they serve here anywhere else. The recipe has been keeping people happy for decades, and that doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon. If you’re visiting the city, then a visit to Café Goodluck is an absolute must-do. You can’t leave Pune without getting a taste of the Café and its delicious Kheema, which are both part of the city’s heritage!
Location: Goodluck Chowk, Deccan
Did this list make you hungry or nostalgic, or both? Which of these dishes are you craving right now? Share your foodie dreams in the comments section.