The Pandit Mystery

In order to know me and my love for food a little better you must know one very important detail about me. There are two dishes that cannot be bad for me, I will love them both from any place and in any form, namely chowmein and pav bhaji. And well it was my recent trip to Jaipur that took this love for pav bhaji to a whole new level.

We were driving back from a long and tiring day of shopping when we crossed the very beautiful and famous Birla Mandir, and as astonishing as it may sound, it wasn’t Birla Mandir that caught my eye but the sight across the road that did. In a single file stood numerous pav bhaji stalls all with the same name – “Padit Pav Bhaji”. But before I could make sense of any of this we drove right across.


As soon as we reached home I raided my local relatives with questions about the stalls. Why they were there? Why so many? Is the food any good? And so on. They told me that many years ago there was a single pav bhaji stall standing across the street from Birla Mandir that did really well, as time passed other hawkers saw good business prospects and started their own stalls with the same name but different prefixes like, “Original”- pandit , “Purana”- pandit, etc.

The best part is that in the crowd of all these Pandits none but a few know who the original one actually is. This intrigued me even further. I decided I had to go and see for myself.


The next day when I got to the stalls the first thing I noticed was that all the signs were in Hindi, I felt amazed as Jaipur attracts numerous foreign tourists the year round, why would the hawkers not want them to come there?

After that I walked up to each stall and asked all of them whether they were the original sellers of pav bhaji at the spot, and trust me each and every one of them claimed that they were. I even asked customers standing in front of the various stalls and each thought of a different one as the original one. By now I knew there was no point searching, there was no way to find out. So I just picked a random stall and went for it, and believe me when I say, it was the world’s best pav bhaji.


From that moment I made a pact, every trip to Jaipur I will try a different Pandit, hopefully someday I shall find the best of the lot.


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