Varanasi is a perfect destination where one can experience spirituality at its best. With more than 88 ghats & uncountable temples, the holiest river Ganga and old-world architecture, Varanasi is a place that will fill you with awe and wonder. But Varanasi offers much more to travelers. Just as Madurai is famous for the ever-refreshing Jigar-thanda, Varanasi is best known for Thandai and Lassi. With summers at their peak in Northern India, it's time you tried the Lassi shops in Benaras.
Lassi is an Indian yogurt–based beverage with a consistency like that of a smoothie. Lassi originated in the Punjab. But it traveled to all parts of India. The Lassi shops in Benaras have a unique inimitable style that draws foodies from far and wide.
There are many popular lassi shops across the holy town of Varanasi. But Pahalwan Lassi serves the most popular kinds of Lassi that attract tourists and locals alike. Pahalwan Lassi is known for its rich recipe made with Malai, Rabdi, and almonds. This shop serves lip-smacking hand-whipped lassi in Kulhads (earthen pots) and has been upholding its traditional style of making the beverage since 1950. But why such a strange name?
Apparently, Panna Sardar, the original shop owner was a small-time wrestler (Pahelwan in Hindi)) during the pre-Independence time. He had a few local fans who started calling the shop ‘Pahelwan Lassi'. That is how it got its name and gained immense popularity.
The most unique aspect about this lassi shop is that they don't use any machines. The curd is hand whipped with a wooden spindle roller. Also, their milk is boiled with sugar to give the lassi a thicker texture and no extra sweeteners are added to the drink. The lassi is served fresh, with toppings of choice.
Several other lassi shops in Benaras gave their shops the same name and gained some footfall at the expense of the original. But, you know where to go get your glass from when in Varanasi. Shri Guru Ravidass Gate, built in memory of Guru Ravidass Ji, is a prominent landmark in Lanka, Varanasi. The authentic outlet of Pahalwan Lassi is located right opposite this beautiful structure.
There are three lassi shops with the same name, adjacent to each other. The leftmost shop is the original Pahalwan Lassi outlet. The owner Majoj Yadav Ji is a jolly person who welcomes tourists like his own guests. “Pahalwan Lassi, Variety of Assi (eighty)” the board reads. The short rhyme literally means that this shop serves several varieties of lassi – eighty as per the rhyme! The kinds of lassi include chocolate, salted, sugar-free, fruit, Rabdi, honey, and Gur (Jaggery). Each of these lassis has its own prominent flavor and unique taste, that the taste buds would relish. Pahalwan Lassi is a must-visit place within the itinerary of the Varanasi tour, for the unmissable experience it provides to food enthusiasts.
Blue Lassi Shop
The Blue Lassi shop is a small shop with a big menu and a bigger reputation. The blue walls of this Lassi shop in Benaras are filled with thousands of small stamp-sized photos and small paper chits with messages from past visitors. They have a custom of collecting photos from patrons. If you like their lassi you might also share your photo which will be put up on the wall. You can also leave a small note of appreciation that would be stuck on the wall. Tucked away in the winding alleys, branching out from the famous Kachori Gali and leading towards Manikarnika Ghat, this unassuming outlet has been serving lassi for over seventy years now. It's a rather small place, with an open front where the ubiquitous steel jug and wooden stirrers are kept along with the large earthen pots containing the curd. Just beside the open space, there is a low doorway to enter the shop. Interestingly, the Blue Lassi shop wasn't ‘Blue' even a couple of decades back. It was just a humble lassi shop perhaps known by the name of its owner. Varanasi, being the holy city for Hindus and also a center for Buddhism because of its proximity to Sarnath, is frequented by foreign tourists around the year. Unlike other roadside shops in Varanasi, this shop offered a small seating space. This found favour with the tourists and the business flourished.
The shop is also associated with the Bengali cinema legend Satyajit Ray. The original owner, Pannalal Yadav, had acted as a henchman in the gang of notorious crimelord ‘Maganlal Meghraj'. The character was made immortal by actor Utpal Dutt in Ray's film “Joy Baba Felunath” based on his own detective story.
The joint is particularly famous for its widely versatile menu. Its current owner Vijay Yadav has mastered the technique of creating distinctively flavorful lassis. The innovation is the fruit infusion to the common refresher which is widely available in various parts of the city. Lassi is available in the Blue Lassi shop in flavors of mango, coconut, strawberry, blueberry, pomegranate, and many more. The frothy drink is topped with such fruits aesthetically garnished and served in earthen pots. All the flavors, punched with fresh fruits, cocoa powders, and strawberry flavors taste awesome.
Beat the Heat
The narrow lanes, jostling crowd, interlaced with cycles, motorcycles, blaring horns, cacophony, and traffic-stalling bulls & cows, all will overwhelm your senses while in Varanasi. With the soaring summer temperature adding to the discomfort, it is time you ventured to these places. Explore these Lassi Shops in Benaras and experience a blissful drink that refreshes the heart and soothes the soul.
An honest SCORPIO who is crazy about movies, and overly passionate about travel.
Believes in immortalizing the moment, either by way of the photograph or literal documentation of the journey.