It never comes as a surprise when you get to a highway eatery and find that the menu features “Chinese” food. This usually means curry with noodles. At this eatery near Golaghat in Assam, somehow chole bhature was included under Chinese. In the true spirit of Punjabi practicality, I did not worry about the classification, but was satisfied by what was served up. More than satisfied, in fact. The chhola was the local ghugni. The batura were luchi writ large. This thriving eatery has discovered marketing: the local luchi-ghugni could be passed off as the more well-known chole bhature without offending anyone.
Never one to pass up familiar food, The Family ordered an onion utthapam, and pronounced it completely edible. In the last sixty years, dosas and utthapam have unmoored themselves from the south of India, and set sail on the sea of pan-Indian food. We love to churn this sea whenever we travel, because it throws up gems more often than poison.
The piece de resistance was the unremarkable looking thing in the photo above. These cubes of chhana mildly sweetened in syrup were the perfect ending to the meal. As I travel in Assam, Bengal and Odisha, I come across more and more varieties of this kind of sweet. This was special, possibly a local invention, since it seemed to be just called chhana. We called for a chai, and a second helping of the chhana.