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You’ve Not Eaten at India’s Highway Dhabas Until You’ve Eaten at These!

What’s the best part of a road trip? Besides the excitement, the whole vibe of thrill and adventure, and the camaraderie of your travel mates, we mean.

It’s the pit-stops, where you halt to assuage those hunger pangs that seem to be your constant companions, when you are on a holiday. Eating is a crucial part of a holiday and just like all other elements, you need to plan this one too. Perhaps plan it even better than the rest of the stuff, we think.

As you get ready to make your next road trip, spare a moment to check out some of the most mind-blowing dhabas of India. We wouldn’t blame you if you decide your trip around these cheap and popular food joints. Without further ado, 13 of India’s best dhabas, presented in no specific order.

Bon appétit!

1. Bhajan Tadka Dhaba, Gajraula, NH-24

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On your way to Uttaranchal is a place called Bhajan Tadka Dhaba. Why this place made it to our list of dhabas to try is not just because of its rustic ambience, but because all the vegetables used here are organic. They are all grown in a greenhouse owned by the dhaba owners themselves. Clean, green and quaint, with friendly service and happy faces all around, this place makes for a pleasant stop. Oh, do have the garlic lachcha paranthas before you leave.

2. Adyar Ananda Bhavan, Krishnagiri, NH-4

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If you happen to be on the Bangalore-Chennai highway, get Siri to take you to this hotel. It’s an extremely popular chain in Chennai, but it’s found across all highways of southern India. You can get a multitude of foods here, not just South Indian. But we recommend you call for their dosas (Indian pancakes) – crisp, soft, hot and dripping with butter. Also have the pongal (made from rice and yellow moong lentils). Have the filter coffee and it’s a wrap!

3. Chilika Dhaba, Barkul, NH-5

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Let’s head east now, towards Odisha. This dhaba is a seafood lovers’ delight. Just a splash away from the Chilika lake, you can be sure your food is fresh and delicious – fish, prawns and crabs are all specialties of this dhaba. Don’t be sad if you’re a vegetarian; they have several lip-smacking dishes for you too, especially their paneer (cottage cheese) dishes – always fresh and so well-prepared!

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4. Pahalwan Dhaba, Murthal, NH-1, Must Visit Highway Dhaba in India

On your way to Chandigarh, take a break at Murthal. There are a few popular eateries there, but head straight to Pahalwan Dhaba. It is the oldest authentic eatery in this area but what we love about it is the laidback environment. Call for paranthas (pan-fried Indian bread) here. Stuffed with a variety of ingredients, these are as big as your thali and arrive with dollops of homemade butter with a side of delicious pickle.

5. No. 1 Ahuja, Murthal, NH-1

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If you are a vegetarian, then we recommend No. 1 Ahuja. This is a typical truck stop, so don’t expect anything fancy. What you will get is quick service and food that is worth every finger-licking moment. Hit them up for an aalu pyaaz ka parantha (pan-fried bread stuffed with potatoes and onions) with dahi (curd).

6. Samaroh En Dees Dhaba, Bhomoraguri to Sonitpur, NH-37(A)

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Ever been to the north eastern frontier of India? You must; it’s a beautiful land. When you are traveling towards Tezpur in Assam, do not miss a meal of authentic Assamese cuisine at this dhaba. If you are feeling up to it, definitely have their pigeon curry. For those who prefer vegetarian, the aalu pitika is sure to be a hit. There is much that the place offers other than an extensive menu. You can spend several hours just taking in the ambiance.

7. Haveli, Karnal, NH-1

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We were sold on the name itself. If you imagine a retro place with lots of rustic décor and palatial doorways, then you’ve imagined it just right. When you’re driving past Karnal, you cannot not stop at Haveli. Everything about the dhaba is an experience in itself – from the decoration, to the seating (plush cushions on the floor) and the brass utensils. While you take in all this visual deliciousness, be prepared to be blown away by the food. Each dish has been carefully curated and is presented to you to give you the complete rural experience.

8. Azad Hind Dhaba, Kolkata, NH-1

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So what if you’re on the eastern coast of India and feel the craving for some authentic Punjabi food? Get on to NH-1 and head straight to Azad Hind Dhaba. Your craving could hit you any day of the week, any time of the day or night; it doesn’t matter. You will always get served a hot meal here. This place is quite popular with travellers on this route who make a beeline for its chicken tikka masala and dal makhani.

9. Grand Lassi Shop, Zirakpur-Patiala Road, NH-21

The name says it all. Trust us, you haven’t had lassi (Indian milk drink) until you’ve had it at this lassi shop on your way to Patiala. Thick, delicious, perfectly-sweetened, and served with a smile. You can even try the mouth-watering aaloo parantha with fresh butter, chana and homemade dahi if you’re still hungry after that glass.

10. Sunny Da Dhaba, Near Karla, Lonavala, NH-4, Amongst Best Highway Dhabas in India

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Lonavla is a popular hill station between Pune and Mumbai. If you are heading in either direction or simply making a trip to Lonavala, make sure lunch time brings you straight to Sunny Da Dhaba. This popular tourist place has been serving delicious food for decades now. It specializes in Punjabi, but you will get other cuisines too. What we love about the dhaba is that it is pet-friendly, so your furry companion need not feel left out.

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11. Mr. Sanjay Dhaba, Leh, NH-1

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We’ve all dreamed of a road trip to Leh, and some of us have even made it. If you still haven’t, and are planning a trip soon, add this solitary dhaba on the Srinagar-Leh highway to your list of pit-stops. Don’t let the exterior deceive you; it has proven to be heaven for many a tired traveller. Whether you’re hungry or not, do stop here for a cup of tea and take in the stark beauty of your surroundings. Goosebumps! Of course, if you’re hungry we recommend the fresh paranthas with the delicious gobhi ki sabzi.

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12. Ummiya Annapurna, Anand District, NH-8

Vegetarians will have a field day at this dhaba in the Anand district. The food is undoubtedly delicious, but it gets a rich wood-smoked aroma from the wood fire that it is all cooked on. Enjoy authentic rustic besan gatta, lassan aaloo and sev tamatar with rotla.

13. Satara Highway Dhaba, Satara, NH-4

We’ve kept the best as the last. Possibly the only dhaba in India to be run by individuals from the transgender community, this place offers unlimited hospitality backed by a kadak chai (strong tea) that has to be sampled. For food, we suggest capsicum masala which seems to be everyone’s favourite.

There you go – just a few of the food joints that connect travellers on the highways of the country. Which one are you planning on visiting then?

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