The curious case of Hazratganj's famous Sardarji Ke Mashhoor Chole Bhature
If you've spent some time in Lucknow's Hazratganj, chances are you've come across a set of three shops, named exactly the same- 'Sardarji Ke Mashhoor Chhole Bhature' shop, right opposite Sharma Ji Ki Chai. And just like us, if you too have been wondering which one out of the three is the real deal, this piece of info if just for you!
To save you from the big 'where to eat, when here' question, we decided to go on a food-tasting session of the signature dish- Chole Bhature, at all 3 of these food joints. And here's our in-depth review:
As we strolled down the street where all 3 of these shops are lined up one after the other, we couldn't help but notice that each shop had multiple signs and slogans outside, all vying to persuade customers of their genuine authenticity.
Adding to the scene, the shop staff were actively stationed outside, beckoning and inviting potential customers to step in and savour their offerings.
#1. "Sardar Ji Ke Mashhoor Chhole Bhature, Punjabi Jaika"
The first shop in the row, when you stand facing all three of them, this shop can be distinguished from its additional name, 'Punjabi Jaika'.
In the context of their Chole Bhature, a regular full plate, which includes 2 bhaturas and chole with onion, is priced at ₹45. The bhatura bread was generously sized. However, the oil they use didn't quite meet expectations in terms of quality. On the bright side, the chole had a pleasing consistency( not very watery, not too dry), was well-seasoned, and not overly spicy. However, there was a noticeable taste of the same cooking oil in the chole.
Ajay Chaudhary, the shop's manager, claims that this is the original and oldest shop in the area. According to him, the shop's founder, Paramjit Singh, began selling Chole Bhature nearly 30 years ago. Initially, he operated a street-side stall, and after achieving success, he set up this shop at the same location.
#2. "Sardar Ji Ke Mashhoor Chole Bhature, Ambika Restaurant"
Next, we headed to the second shop in the row. This outlet shares a similar tag, while the real name stated on the signboard is 'Ambika Restaurant'.
Similar to the previous shop, here too, a plate of Chole Bhature comes at a reasonable price of ₹45, offering portions and sides that are virtually identical. The bhatura bread served at this spot is of medium size, perfectly cooked and pleasantly devoid of any excess grease. Notably, the cooking oil used for frying did not carry any unwanted odors, suggesting high-quality standards.
When we tasted the chole, the gravy stood out for its superior taste, and the well-balanced infusion of garam masala added an extra layer of aroma and a subtle kick that pleasantly lingered on the palate. All in all, the food here felt genuinely impeccable in terms of quality.
The store's owner, Karanjit Singh, who personally oversees its operations, proudly claims that his establishment holds the distinction of being the original one in this row. It was originally launched by his grandfather back in 1964. He goes on to emphasize that all the spices used in the store's recipes are crafted in-house.
#3. "Sardar Ji Baramde Wale"
The 3rd shop in the row is titled 'Sardar Ji Baramde Wale', although a red signboard with an identical name like the other two can be seen above the shop's entrance.
Talking about their Chole Bhature, a plate with similar contents is priced here at ₹50.
Their bhatura, which arrived golden and puffed up, appeared appealing but was a tad too greasy for our liking. The chola had a tinge of green and a consistency that seemed extra thick. Along with this, their chola had a somewhat sour and cabbagey taste.
The person in charge over here also claimed that his shop is the real deal and was established back in 1976.
Now, to address the question – Which shop out of all three is the original one? Frankly, there is no concrete means to verify the authenticity of any of these establishments. However, as the saying goes, "Taste is king," and in our culinary journey, it was store #2, Ambika Restaurant, that truly stood out in terms of quality and flavour, aligning with our personal preferences.
So, when you find yourself in Ganj, be sure to pay a visit to any of these eateries for a satisfying North Indian meal or maybe all, to find out your favourite one!