The Coffee Shop at The Gateway Hotel
Fatehbad Road, Agra
Tel: 562 660 2000
Meal for two:?Rs 2,000
Getting a glimpse of the Taj Mahal wreathed in the early morning mist at Agra is intoxicating. As the poets sings: “When your heart’s on fire/You must realise/ Smoke gets in your eyes!”
That is to say, it gets the juices flowing and you do get hungry. Luckily, the chefs at the Taj Gateway hotel recognise it. The coffee shop is filled with monument-fired hungry customers who line up for their breakfast. Of course, all the fresh juices, cereals and beverages are there for the international traveller, but we zero upon the local breakfast foods.
The smoke from the coal-fired chulhas that go into making the pale gelatinous green or yellow pumpkin-based sweetmeat ‘petha’ is alleged to be ruining the patina of the marble on the Taj. Yet it is a sweet inspired by Shah Jahan’s concern for the 21,000 workmen who were tired of their dal-roti that he found something that would enhance their diet.
We also tried Agra’s other favourite—the fried puffed wheat bread or bedai—that is served with a spicy potato curry and a heap of golden jalebis. The dough for the bedai has been enhanced with sprouted grains and spices, so it is a meal in itself. One can also opt for a rough oven-baked roti, with fresh dollops of white butter.
At the Gateway there’s everything from the lowly samosas to chaats, and heavily spiced kachoris, the confetti-like Dalmoth, made from chickpea flour and the delights of a kathi roll.
Evenings are equally entrancing. For you can sip pink pomegranate juice flavoured with rock salt while gazing at the Taj from the terrace. Enjoy. Let the smoke get in your eyes!